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PSY 2012 The Stanford Prison Experiment Film Analysis

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Last Name 1
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Prof. Jessica Aubuchon
PSY 2012
10 June 2021
The Stanford Prison Experiment
The movie, The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015), directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez,
takes place in 1971 at Stanford University's psychology wing. The film showcase an actual
sociopsychology examination orchestrated by Dr. Zimbardo, a professor from Stanford
University. The film examines the psychological impacts of perceived power and servitude by
focusing on the interaction between corrections officers and prisoners. Some scenes in the film
elicit discussion on the principles and experimental rigor of the experiment. Still, all scenes
outstandingly confirm that people will readily conform to social roles assigned to them,
especially if the roles are highly associated with power, for example, correctional officers or
strongly stereotyped, for example, prisoners.
The first interesting feature of the film is how readily the guards adapt and settle in their
position. Immediately after the wardens strip searches the first inmate, their sense of superiority
and authority quickly intensifies. Notably, the guards' social conformity into their role is easily
noticeable during the demoralizing admission process. Additionally, just a few minutes after the
experiment began; some officers were already harassing the inmates. At minutes 13:00 of the
film, the guards awake the prisoners at 0230 hours by booming whistles for the first of the
numerous naming sessions (Supernova T: 13 min. 0 sec). The purpose of the wake-up call is for
prisoners to exercise and master one's prison number that they will be using to identify

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themselves. In addition, as the film progresses, the guards wake up prisoners at night every four
hours for night routine. Moreover, the correctional officers mistreat the convicts, evident when
they place the defiant inmate in a cell and lock him up. During an attempted revolt, the guards
shackle the plan's mastermind and haul him through the hallway (Supernova T: 47 min). Society
perceives men in uniform as dominant, assertive, and controlling. Given this knowledge, the
corrections officers speedily assert themselves to meet their social role of control and power. The
quick personification of the guards' social roles supports my proposition that people will readily
adapt to social roles assigned to them and perform to fulfill the societal expectations of the roles.
Another aspect in the film that I found striking is how effortlessly the prisoners matched
their anticipated social roles in the experiment. After the demoralizing admission process, the
prisoners immediately adapt to their expected social role of being submissive and complaint.
Notably, the convicts get comfortable to identifying with the custodial number instead of their
names. Initially, at the onset of the film, the inmates challenge the guards. However, when the
wardens exhibit more force and show brutality, the prisoners speedily weaken and yield to the
guards’ mockery, and provoke. I was astonished when at some point in the experiment, the
prisoners started acting as if the experiment was a real-life situation and they were real inmates,
swiftly overlooking that they were ordinary college students. Notably, participants playing
convicts, initially proud and honorable college students, lose their dignity and self-worth to
become what society expects of them as inmates. Instead of defending their rights in the event of
guards’ ruthlessness and cruel behavior, they conform to the yielding nature of prisoners and
persevere the correctional officers’ contempt. The embodiment of the inmates’ roles reinforces
my premise that people will easily conform to match stereotyped social roles.

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Last Name 1 Name Prof. Jessica Aubuchon PSY 2012 10 June 2021 The Stanford Prison Experiment The movie, The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015), directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, takes place in 1971 at Stanford University's psychology wing. The film showcase an actual sociopsychology examination orchestrated by Dr. Zimbardo, a professor from Stanford University. The film examines the psychological impacts of perceived power and servitude by focusing on the interaction between corrections officers and prisoners. Some scenes in the film elicit discussion on the principles and experimental rigor of the experiment. Still, all scenes outstandingly confirm that people will readily conform to social roles assigned to them, especially if the roles are highly associated with power, for example, correctional officers or strongly stereotyped, for example, prisoners. The first interesting feature of the film is how readily the guards adapt and settle in their position. Immediately after the wardens strip searches the first inmate, their sense of superiority and authority quickly intensifies. Notably, the guards' social conformity into their role is easily noticeable during the demoralizing admi ...
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