Weird History

The Stanford Prison Experiment Might Be The Most Disturbing Study Ever Conducted

In August 1971, psychology professor Philip Zimbardo led an experiment in the basement of Stanford University's Jordan Hall. The Stanford Prison Experiment, as it is now known, was supposed to investigate power dynamics and relationships in a prison setting. Using mock prisoners and mock guards all played by college-aged men, Zimbardo sought to find out if power makes people brutal and sadistic or if those qualities are intrinsic to human nature. 

Explaining human behavior isn't easy and the results of the experiment revealed much more than Zimbardo or any of the 24 participants could have imagined. Over the course of six days, the experiment spiraled out of control, resulting in psychological and ethical findings that remain controversial among psychologists today.