Threat as a Motivator of Political activism: A field experiment

The Political Psychology of Electoral Campaigns: Introduction to the Symposium
James N. Druckman and Joanne M. Miller Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota
Threat as a Motivator of Political activism: A field experiment

Joanne M. Miller Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota

Jon A. Krosnick Department of Psychology and Political Science, Ohio State University

The research reported here examined the effects of two potential motivators of political activism-policy change threat and policy change opportunity- in a field experiment. Different versions of a letter were sent by a political lobbying organization to potential contributors. One version highlighted threats of undesirable policy changes, another version highlighted opportunities for desirable policy changes, and a third version did neither. Policy change threat increased the number of financial contributors made to the interest group, but policy change opportunity did not. Policy change opportunity increased the number of signed postcards returned to be sent to President Clinton, but policy change threat did not. These findings highlight the impact of interest group recruitment strategies on citizen responsiveness and demonstrate the need to account for sources of motivation in order to more fully understand when, why, and how citizens choose to become politically active.

Keywords: threat, political participation, motivation

Threat as a Motivator of Political activism: A field experiment

Political Polling

It is hard to imagine elections without systematic polling of various segments of the electorate using sampling tech- niques as predictors of election outcomes. Polling for many other purposes by Gallup, Roper, and other opinion polling agencies has become big business. Readers might be sur- prised to learn that psychologist Hadley Cantril (1991) pioneered in conducting research into the methodology of polling in the 1940s. Throughout World War II, Cantril provided President Roosevelt with valuable information on American public opinion. He also established the Office of Public Opinion Research, which became a central archive for polling data.

Criminal Justice

Cognitive and social psychologists have shown that eye- witness testimony is surprisingly unreliable. Their research reveals the ease with which recall of criminal events is biased by external influences in interrogations and police line-ups. The seminal work of Beth Loftus (1975, 1979, 1992) and Gary Wells (Wells & Olson, 2003), among others, has been recognized by the U.S. Attorney General’s office in drawing up national guidelines for the collection of accurate and unbiased eyewitness identification (see Malpass & Devine, 1981; Stebley, 1997).

The Stanford Prison Experiment has become a classic demonstration of the power of social situational forces to negatively impact the behavior of normal, healthy partici- pants who began to act in pathological or evil ways in a matter of a few days (Zimbardo, Haney, Banks, & Jaffe, 1973). It added a new awareness of institutional power to the authority power of Stanley Milgram’s (1974) blind obedience studies (see Blass, 1999; Zimbardo, Maslach, & Haney, 1999). The lessons of this research have gone well beyond the classroom. In part as a consequence of my testimony before a Senate judiciary committee on crime and prisons (Zimbardo, 1974), its committee chair, Senator Birch Bayh, prepared a new law for federal prisons requir- ing juveniles in pretrial detention to be housed separately from adult inmates (to prevent their being abused). Our participants were juveniles in the pretrial detention facility of the Stanford jail. A video documentary of the study, “Quiet Rage: The Stanford Prison Experiment,” has been used extensively by many agencies within the civilian and military criminal justice system as well as in shelters for abused women. I recently discovered that it is even used to educate role-playing military interrogators in the Navy SEAR (survival, evasion, and resistance) program about the dangers of abusing their power against others role- playing pretend spies and terrorists (Annapolis Naval Col- lege psychology staff, personal communication, September 18, 2003). TheWeb site for the Stanford Prison Experiment gets more than 500 visitors daily and has had more than 13 million unique page views in the past four years (www Those surprising figures should be telling us that we must focus more effort on utilizing the power of the Web as a major new medium for disseminating psy- chology’s messages directly to a worldwide audience.


Among the many examples of psychology at work in the field of education, two of my favorites naturally have a social psychological twist. Elliot Aronson and his research team in Austin, Texas, dealt with the negative conse- quences of desegregated schools by creating “jigsaw class- rooms.” Prejudice against minority children was rampant, those children were not performing well, and elementary school classes were marked by high degrees of tension. But when all students were taught to share a set of materials in small learning teams where each child has one set of information indispensable to the rest of the team, and on which tests and grades depend, remarkable things hap- pened. All kids started to listen to the other kids, especially minority kids who they used to ignore or disparage, because such attention and cooperation is essential to getting a good grade. Not only did the self-esteem of the minority children escalate, but so did their academic performance, as prejudice and discrimination went down. The techniques of the jigsaw classroom are inexpensive for teachers to learn and to operationalize, so it is no wonder that Aronson’s simple concept is now being incorporated into the curricula of hundreds of schools in many states, with similarly impressive results (Aronson, 1990; Aronson, Blaney, Stephan, Sikes, & Snapp, 1978; Aronson & Gonzalez, 1988; Aronson & Patnoe, 1997). Teaching young children interpersonal cognitive problem solving skills, known as ICPS, reduces physical and verbal aggression, increases coping with frustrations, and promotes positive peer relationships. This research program developed by Myrna Shure and George Spivak (1982) over the past several decades is a major violence prevention approach being applied in schools and family agencies in programs called “Raising a Thinking Child” and by the U.S. Department of Education’s “I Can Problem Solve” program.


Environmental health is threatened by a host of toxic sub- stances, such as lead, mercury, solvents, and pesticides. Experimental psychologists, behavioral analysts, and psy- chometricians have helped create the field of behavioral toxicology that recognizes the nervous system as the target for many toxins, with defects in behavior and mental pro- cesses as the symptomatic consequences. Pioneering work by psychologist BernardWeiss (1992, 1999) and others has had a significant impact on writing behavioral tests into federal legislation, thereby better regulating the use of a wide range of neurotoxins in our environment. That re- search documents the vulnerability of children’s develop- ing brains to chemicals in the environment.

Among the many negative consequences of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War was the explosion of the phenomenon of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many veterans were experiencing this debilitating disorder that was uncovered during their psychotherapy treatments. The more we discovered about this delayed, persistent, intense stress reaction to violence and trauma, the more we realized that veterans of earlier wars had also experienced PTSD, but it was unlabeled. That was also the case with many civilian victims of trauma, among them rape victims and those who had experienced child abuse. PTSD has become a well-recognized and publicly acknowledged phe- nomenon today because it was one of the mental health consequences of the monumental trauma from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, in New York City and Washington, DC. Credit for the early recognition, identifi- cation, measurement, and treatment of PTSD goes to the programs of research funded by the Veteran’s Administra- tion, which was pioneered by the research team of clinical psychologist Terry Keane (Keane, Malloy, & Fairbank, 1984; Weathers, Keane, & Davidson, 2001).


CHAPTER FOUR Monday's Prisoner Rebellion Monday, Monday, dreary and weary for all of us after a much too long first day and a seemingly endless night. But there go the shrill whistles again, rousing the prisoners from sleep promptly at 6 A.M. They drift out of their cells bleary-eyed, adjusting their stocking caps and smocks, untangling their ankle chains. They are a sullen lot. 5704 later told us that it was depressing to face this new day knowing he would have to go through "all the same shit again, and maybe worse."1 Guard Ceros is lifting up the droopy heads—especially that of 1037, who looks as though he is sleepwalking. He pushes their shoulders back to more erect positions while physically adjusting the posture of slouching inmates. He's like a mother preparing her sleepy children for their first day at school, only a bit rougher. It is time for more rule learning and morning exercise before breakfast can be served. Vandy takes command: "Okay, we're going to teach you these rules until you have all of them memorized."2 His energy is contagious, stimulating Ceros to walk up and down the line of prisoners, brandishing his billy club. Quickly losing patience, Ceros yells, "Come on, come on!" when the prisoners do not repeat the rules fast enough. Ceros smacks his club against his open palm, making the wap, wap sound of restrained aggression. Vandy goes through toilet instructions for several minutes and repeats them many times until the prisoners meet his standards, repeating what he has told them about how they will use the facilities, for how long, and in silence. "819 thinks it's funny. Maybe we'll have something special for 819." Guard Varnish stands off to the side, not doing much at all. Ceros and Vandy switch roles. Pris oner 819 continues to smile and even laugh at the absurdity of it all. "It's not funny, 819." Throughout, Guard Markus alternates with Ceros in reading the rules. Ceros: "Louder on that one! Prisoners must report all rule violations to the guards." Prisoners are made to sing the rules, and after so many repetitions they have obviously learned all of them. Next come instructions regarding proper mili tary style upkeep of their cots. "From now on your towels will be rolled up and placed neatly at the foot of your beds. Neatly, not thrown around, got that?" says Vandy. Prisoner 819 starts acting up. He quits the exercises and refuses to continue. The others also stop until their buddy rejoins them. The guard asks him to con tinue, which he does—for the sake of his comrades. "Nice touch, 819, now take a seat in the Hole," orders Vandy. 819 goes into solitary but with a defiant swagger. As he methodically paces up and down the corridor in front of the prisoners, the tall guard Karl Vandy is beginning to like the feeling of dominance. "Okay, what kind of day is this?" Mumbled responses. "Louder. Are you all happy?" "Yes, Mr. Correctional Officer." Varnish, trying to get into the act and be cool, asks, "Are we all happy? I didn't hear the two of you." "Yes, Mr. Correctional Officer." "4325, what kind of day is this?" "It's a good day, Mr. Correctional Offic—" "No. It's awonderf ul day!" "Yes sir, Mr. Correctional Officer." They begin to chant, "It's a wonderful day, Mr. Correctional Officer." "4325, what kind of day is it?" "It's a good day." Vandy: "Wrong. It's awonderf ul day!" "Yes sir. It's a wonderful day." "And you, 1037?" 1037 gives his response a peppy, sarcastic intonation: "It's awonderful day." Vandy: "I think you'll do. Okay, return to your cells and have them neat and orderly in three minutes. Then stand by the foot of your bed." He gives instruc tions to Varnish about how to inspect the cells. Three minutes later, the guards enter the individual cells while the prisoners stand by their beds in military in spection style. REBELLION BEGINS BREWING There's no question that the prisoners are getting frustrated by having to deal with what the guards are doing to them. Moreover, they are hungry and still tired from lack of a sound night's rest. However, they are going along with the show and are doing a pretty good job of making their beds, but not good enough for Vandy. "You call that neat, 8612? It's a mess, remake it right." With that, he rips off Monday's Prisoner Rebellion 59 the blanket and sheets and throws them on the floor. 8612 reflexively lunges at him, screaming, "You can't do that, I just made it!" Caught off guard, Vandy pushes the prisoner off and hits him in the chest with his fist as he yells out for reinforcements, "Guards, emergency in Cell 2!" All the guards surround 8612 and roughly throw him into the Hole, where he joins 819, who has been sitting there quietly. Our rebels begin to plot a revolu tion in the dark, tight confines. But they miss the chance to go to the toilet, to which the others are escorted in pairs. It soon becomes painful to hold in the urge to urinate, so they decide not to make trouble just yet, but soon. Interestingly, Guard Ceros later told us that it was difficult to maintain the guard persona when he was alone with a prisoner going to, in, or from the toilet, because there were not the external physical props of the prison setting on which to rely. He and most of the other guards reported that they acted tougher and were more demanding on those prisoner toilet runs in order to counter their tendency to ease up when off site. It was just harder to act the tough-guard role when alone with a solitary prisoner one on one. There was also a sense of shame in grown-ups like them being reduced to toilet patrol.3 The rebel duo occupying the Hole also misses breakfast, which is served promptly at 8 A.M. al fresco in the open Yard. Some eat sitting on the floor, while others stand. They violate the "no talking rule," by talking and discussing a hunger strike to show prisoner solidarity. They also agree that they should start to demand a lot of things to test their power, like getting their eyeglasses, meds, and books back and not doing the exercises. Previously silent prisoners, including 3401, our only Asian-American participant, now become energized in their open support. After breakfast, 7258 and 5486 test the plan by refusing orders to return to their cells. This forces the three guards to push them into their respective cells. Or dinarily, such disobedience would have earned them Hole time, but the Hole is al ready overcrowded, two people being its physical limit. In the rising cacophony, I am amazed to hear prisoners from Cell 3 volunteer to clean the dishes. This ges ture is in line with the generally cooperative stance of cellmate Tom-2093, but is at odds with their buddies, who are in the process of planning rebellion. Maybe they were hoping to cool the mark, to ease the rising tensions. With the curious exception of those in Cell 3, the prisoners are careening out of control. The morning shift guard trio decides that the prisoners must consider the guards too lax, which is encouraging this mischief. They decide it is time to stiffen up. First, they institute a morning work period, which today means scrub bing down the walls and floors. Then, in the first stroke of their collective creative revenge, they take the blankets off the prisoners' beds in Cells 1 and 2, carry them outside the building, and drag them through the underbrush until the blankets are covered with stickers or burrs. Unless prisoners don't mind being stuck by these sharp pins, they must spend an hour or more picking out each of them if they want to use their blankets. Prisoner 5704 goes ballistic, screaming at the senseless stupidity of this chore. But that is exactly the point. Senseless, mindless arbitrary tasks are the necessary components of guard power. The guards want to punish the rebels and also to induce unquestioning conformity. After initially re fusing, 5704 reconsiders when he thinks it will get him on the good side of Guard Ceros and gain him a cigarette, so he starts picking and picking out the hundreds of stickers in his blanket. The chore was all about order, control, and power—who had it and who wanted it. Guard Ceros asks, "Nothing but the best in this prison, wouldn't you allagree?" Prisoners mutter various sounds of approval. "Really fine, Mr. Correctional Officer," replies someone in Cell 3. Nevertheless, 8612, just released from solitary back to Cell 2, has a somewhat different answer: "Oh, fuck you, Mr. Correctional Officer." 8612 is ordered toshut his filthy mouth. I realize that this is the first obscenity that has been uttered in this setting. Ihad expected the guards to curse a lot as part of establishing the macho role, butthey have not yet done so. However, Doug-8612 does not hesitate to fling obscenities around. Guard Ceros: "It was weird to be in command. I felt like shouting that everyone was the same. Instead, I made prisoners shout at each other, 'You guys are abunch of assholes!' I was in disbelief when they recited it over and over upon mycommand." 4 Vandy added, "I found myself taking on the guard role. I didn't apologize forit; in fact, I became quite a bit bossier. The prisoners were getting quite rebellious,and I wanted to punish them for breaking up our system." 5 The next sign of rebellion comes from a small group of prisoners, Stew-819and Paul-5704, and, for the first time, 7258, the previously docile Hubbie. Tearing the ID numbers from the front of their uniforms, they protest loudly against the unacceptable living conditions. The guards immediately retaliate by stripping each of them stark naked until their numbers are replaced. The guards retreat totheir quarters with an uneasy sense of superiority, but an eerie silence falls over the Yard as they eagerly await the end of their much too long first shift on this job. Welcome to the Rebellion, Day Shift When the day shift arrives and suits up before their 10 A.M. duty, they discover that all is not as under control as it was when they left yesterday. The prisoners inCell 1 have barricaded themselves in. They refuse to come out. Guard Arnett immediately takes over and requests the morning shift to stay on until this matter is resolved. His tone implies that they are somehow responsible for letting things get out of hand. The ringleader of the revolt is Paul-5704, who got his buddies in Cell 1,Hubbie-7258 and Glenn-3401, to agree that it was time to react against the violation of the original contract they made with the authorities (me). They push their beds against the cell door, cover the door opening with blankets, and shut off the lights. Unable to push the door open, the guards vent their anger on Cell 2,which is filled with the usual top-of-the-line troublemakers, Doug-8612, Stew-819,veterans of the Hole, and Rich-1037. In a surprise counterattack, the guards rush in, grab the three cots and haul them out into the yard, while 8612 struggles furiously to resist. There are pushing and shoving and shouting all around thatcell, spilling out into the Yard. "Up against the wall!" "Give me the handcuffs!" "Get everything, take everything!" 819 screams wildly, "No, no, no! This is an experiment! Leave me alone! Shit,let go of me, fucker! You're not going to take our fucking beds!"8612: "A fucking simulation. It's a fucking simulated experiment. It's no prison. And fuck Dr. Zimbargo!" Arnett, in a remarkably calm voice, intones, "When the prisoners in Cell 1start behaving properly, your beds will be returned. You can use whatever influence you can on them to make them behave properly. "A calmer-sounding prisoner's voice importunes the guards, "These are our beds. You should not take them away." In utter bewilderment, the naked prisoner 8612 says in a plaintive voice,"They took our clothes, and they took our beds! This is unbelievable! They took our clothes, and they took our beds." He adds, "They don't do that in real prisons."Curiously, another prisoner calls back, "They do." 6 The guards burst into laughter. 8612 thrusts his hands between the cell door bars, open palms facing upward, in a pleading gesture, an unbelieving expression on his face and a new, strange tone to his voice. Guard J. Landry tells him to get his hands off the door, but Ceros is more direct and smacks his club against the bars.8612 pulls his hands back just in time to avoid his fingers being smashed. The guards laugh. Now the guards move toward Cell 3 as 8612 and 1037 call out to their Cell 3 comrades to barricade themselves in. "Get your beds in front of the door!""One horizontal and one vertical! Don't let them in! They'll take your beds!""They've taken our beds! Oh shit!" 1037 goes over the top with his call to violent resistance: "Fight them! Resist violently! The time has come for violent revolution!" Guard Landry returns armed with a big fire extinguisher and shoots bursts of skin-chilling carbon dioxide into Cell 2, forcing the prisoners to flee backward."Shut up and stay away from the door!" (Ironically, this is the same extinguisher that the Human Subjects Research Committee insisted we have available in case of an emergency!) But as the beds are pulled from Cell 3 into the corridor, the rebels in Cell 2 feel betrayed. "Cell 3, what's going on? We told you to barricade the doors!" XXXXXXXXXXXX "What kind of solidarity is that? Was it the 'sergeant'? 'Sergeant' (2093), if itwas your fault, that's all right because we all understand that you're impossible.""But hey, Cell 1, keep your beds like that. Don't let them in."The guards realize that six of them can subdue a prisoner rebellion this time,but in the future they will have to get by with only three guards against the nineprisoners, and that could add up to trouble. Never mind: Arnett formulates thedivide-and-conquer psychological tactic of making Cell 3 the privileged cell andgives its members the special privileges of washing, brushing their teeth, beds andbedding returned, and water turned on in their cell.Guard Arnett loudly announces that because Cell 3 has been behaving well,"their beds are not being torn up; they will be returned when order is restored inCell 1."The guards are trying to solicit the "good prisoners" to persuade the others tobehave properly. "Well, if we knew what was wrong, we could tell them!" one of the "good prisoners" exclaims.Vandy replies, "You don't need to know what's wrong. You can just tell themto straighten up."8612 yells out, "Cell 1, we're with ya, all three of us." Then he makes a vaguethreat to the guards as they cart him off back to solitary wearing only a towel:"The unfortunate thing is, you guys think we've played all our cards."That job done, the guards take a brief time-out for a smoke and to formulatea plan of action to deal with the Cell 1 barricade.When Rich-1037 refuses to come out of Cell 2, three guards manhandlehim, throw him to the ground, handcuff his ankles, and drag him by his feet outinto the Yard. He and rebel 8612 yell back and forth from the Hole to the Yardabout their condition, pleading with the full prisoner contingent to sustain the rebellion. Some guards are trying to make space in the hall closet for another placein an expanded Hole in which to deposit 1037. While they move boxes around tofree up some more room, they drag him back into his cell along the floor with his feet still chained together.Guards Arnett and Landry confer and agree on a simple way to bring someorder to this bedlam: Start the count. The count confers order on chaos. Evenwith only four prisoners in line, all at attention, the guards begin by making theprisoners call out their numbers."My number is 4325, Mr. Correctional Officer.""My number is 2093, Mr. Correctional Officer."The count sounds out up and down the line, consisting of the three "goodies"from Cell 3 and 7258 naked with only a towel around his waist. Remarkably,8612 calls out his number from the Hole, but in mocking fashion.The guards now drag 1037 into solitary by the feet, putting him in a far corner of the hall closet that has become a makeshift second Hole. Meanwhile, 8612continues yelling for the prison superintendent: "Hey, Zimbardo, get your ass over here!" I decide not to intervene at this point but to watch the confrontation andthe attempts to restore law and order.Some interesting comments are recorded in the retrospective diaries of theprisoners (completed after the study had ended).Paul-5704 talks about the first effects of the time distortion that is beginningto alter everyone's thinking. "After we had barricaded ourselves in this morning,I fell asleep for a while, still exhausted from lack of a full sleep last night. When Iawoke I thought it was the next morning, but it wasn't even lunch today yet!" Hefell asleep again in the afternoon, thinking it was night when he awoke, but it wasonly 5 P.M. Time distortion also got to 3401, who felt starved and was angry thatdinner had not been served, thinking it was 9 or 10 P.M. when it was not yet 5 P.M.Although the guards eventually crushed the rebellion and used it as justification for escalating their dominance and control over these now potentially "dangerous prisoners," many of the prisoners felt good about having had the courageto challenge the system. 5486 remarked that his "spirits were good, guys together, ready to raise hell. We staged the 'Jock Strap Rebellion.' No more jokes, no jumping jacks, no playing with our heads." He added that he was limited by whathis cellmates in the "good cell" would agree to back him up on. Had he been inCell 1 or 2, he would have "done as they did" and rebelled more violently. Oursmallest, most physically fragile prisoner, Glenn-3401, the Asian-American student, seemed to have had an epiphany during the rebellion: "I suggested movingthe beds against the door to keep the guards out. Although I am usually quiet, Idon't like to be pushed around like this. Having helped to organize and participatein our rebellion was important for me. I built my ego from there. I felt it was thebest thing in my entire experience. Sort of asserting myself after the barricademade me more known to myself." 7 After Lunch, Maybe an Escape With Cell 1 still barricaded and some rebels in solitary, lunch is set for only a few.The guards have prepared a special lunch for "Good Cell 3," for them to eat infront of their less-well-behaved fellows. Surprising us again, they refuse the meal.The guards try to persuade them just to taste the delicious meal, but even thoughthey are hungry after their minimal oatmeal breakfast and last night's slim dinner, the Cell 3 inmates cannot agree to act as such traitors, as "rat finks." Astrange silence pervades the Yard for the next hour. However, these Cell 3 men aretotally cooperative during the work period chores, some of which include takingmore stickers out of their blankets. Prisoner Rich-1037 is offered a chance toleave solitary and join the work brigade but refuses. He is coming to prefer the relative quiet in the dark. The rules say only one hour max in the Hole, but that maxis being stretched to two hours now for 1037, and also for occupant 8612. Meanwhile in Cell 1, two prisoners are quietly executing the first stage of their new escape plan. Paul-5704 will use his long fingernails, strengthened from guitar picking, to loosen the screws in the faceplate of the power outlet. Once that is accomplished, they plan to use the edge of the plate as a screwdriver to unscrew the cell door lock. One will pretend to be sick and, when the guard is taking him to the toilet, will open the main entrance door down the hall. Signaled by a whistle,the other cellmate will burst out. They will knock the guard down and run awayto freedom! As in real prisons, prisoners can show remarkable creativity in fashioning weapons out of virtually anything and hatching ingenious escape plans.Time and oppression are the fathers of rebellious invention. But as bad luck would have it, Guard John Landry, making routine rounds,turns the door handle on Cell 1, and it falls out to the ground with a resoundingthud. Panic ensues. "Help!" Landry screams out. "Escape!" Arnett and Markusrush in, block the door, and then get handcuffs to chain the would-be escapees together on the floor of their cell. Of course, 8612 was one of the troublemakers, sohe gets his frequent-flyer trip back into the Hole. A Nice Count to Calm the Restless Masses Several anxious hours have passed since the day shift reported for work. It is timeto soothe the savage beasts before further trouble erupts. "Good behavior is rewarded, and bad behavior is not rewarded." That calm, commanding voice is nowclearly identified as Arnett's. He and Landry once again join forces to line up theircharges for another count. Arnett takes charge. He has emerged as the leader of the day shift. "Hands against the wall, on this wall here. Now let's see how welleveryone is learning his numbers. As before, sound your number, starting at this end." Sarge starts it off, setting the tone of a fast, loud response, which the otherprisoners pick up with some variations. 4325 and 7258 are fast and obedient. Wehave not heard much from Jim-4325, a big, robust six-footer who could be a lot tohandle if he decided to get physical with the guards. In contrast, Glenn-3401 andStew-819 are always slower, evidently reluctant to comply mindlessly. Not satisfied, and imposing his own brand of control, Arnett makes them count in creative ways. They do it by threes, backward, any way he can devise that will make it unnecessarily difficult. Arnett is also demonstrating his creativity to all onlookers, as does Guard Hellmann, but Arnett doesn't seem to take nearly as much personal pleasure in his performance as the other shift leader does. For him, this is more a job to be done efficiently. Landry suggests having the prisoners sing their numbers; Arnett asks, "Wasthat popular last night? Did people like singing?" Landry: "I thought they liked itlast night." But a few prisoners respond that they don't like to sing. Arnett: "Oh,well, you must learn to do things you don't like; it's part of reintegrating into regular society." 819 complains, "People out on the streets don't have numbers." Arnett responds, "People out on the street don't have to have numbers! Youhave to have numbers because of your status here!" Landry gives specific instructions about how to sing their scales: sing up ascale, like "do re mi." All of the prisoners conform and sing the ascending scale tothe best of their ability, then the descending scale, except for 819, who doesn't attempt any scales. "819 can't sing for a damn; let's hear it again." 819 starts to explain why he can't sing. Arnett, however, clarifies the purpose of this exercise. "Ididn't ask you why you couldn't sing, the object is for you to learn to sing." Arnettcriticizes the prisoners for their poor singing, but the weary prisoners just giggleand laugh when they make mistakes.In contrast to his shift mates, Guard John Markus seems listless. He rarelygets involved in the main activities in the Yard. Instead, he volunteers to do off-sitechores, like picking up food at the college cafeteria. His body posture gives the impression that he is not enacting the macho guard image; he slouches, shouldersdown, head drooping. I ask Warden Jaffe to talk to him about being more responsive to the job for which he is getting paid. The warden takes him off the Yard intohis office and chastises him."The guards have to know that every guard has to be what we call a 'toughguard.' The success of this experiment rides on the behavior of the guards tomake it seem as realistic as possible." Markus challenges him, "Real-life experience has taught me that tough, aggressive behavior is counterproductive." Jaffegets defensive. He starts saying that the purpose of the experiment is not to reformprisoners but to understand how prisons change people when they are faced withthe situation of guards being all-powerful."But we are also being affected by this situation. Just putting on this guarduniform is a pretty heavy thing for me." Jaffe becomes more reassuring; "I understand where you are coming from. We need you to act in a certain way. For thetime being, we need you to play the role of 'tough guard.' We need you to react asyou imagine the 'pigs' would. We're trying to set up the stereotype guard—yourindividual style has been a little too soft.""Okay, I will try to adjust somewhat.""Good, I knew we could count on you." Meanwhile, 8612 and 1037 remain in solitary. However, now they areyelling out complaints about violations of the rules. No one is paying attention.Each of them separately says he needs to see a doctor. 8612 says he is feeling ill,feeling strange. He mentions a weird sensation of his stocking cap still being onhis head when he knows it is not there. His demand to see the warden will begranted later in the day.At four o'clock, beds are returned to good Cell 3, as the guards' attention focuses on the prisoners in the still rebellious Cell 1. The night shift guards are askedto come in early, and together with the day shift they storm the cell, shooting thefire extinguisher at the door opening to keep the prisoners at bay. They strip thethree prisoners naked, take away their beds, and threaten to deprive them of dinner if they show any further disobedience. Already hungry from missing lunch,the prisoners melt into a sullen, quiet blob. The Stanford County Jail Prisoners' Grievance CommitteeRealizing that the situation is becoming volatile, I have the warden announceover the loudspeaker that prisoners should elect three members to the newlyformed "Stanford County Jail Prisoners' Grievance Committee," who will meetwith Superintendent Zimbardo as soon as they agree on what grievances theywant to have addressed and rectified. We later learn from a letter that Paul-5704sent to his girlfriend that he was proud to be nominated by his comrades to headthis committee. This is a remarkable statement, showing how the prisoners hadlost their broad time perspectives and were living "in the moment."The Grievance Committee, consisting of elected members, Paul-5704, Jim-4325, and Rich-1037, tell me that their contract has been violated in many ways.Their prepared list includes that: the guards are being both physically and verbally abusive; there is an unnecessary level of harassment; the food is not adequate; they want to have their books, glasses, and various pills and medsreturned; they want more than one Visiting Night; and some of them want religious services. They argue that all of these conditions justified their need to rebelopenly as they had all day long. Behind my silver reflecting sunglasses, I slip into the superintendent roleautomatically. I start out by saying I am sure we can resolve any disagreementsamicably, to our mutual satisfaction. I note that this Grievance Committee is a finefirst step in that direction. I am willing to work directly with them as long as they represent the will of all the others. "But you have to understand that a lot of theguards' hassling and physical actions have been induced by your bad behavior.You have brought it upon yourselves by disrupting our planned schedules and bycreating panic among the guards, who are new to this line of work. They took away many of your privileges rather than becoming more physically abusive tothe rebellious prisoners." The Grievance Committee members nod knowingly."I promise to take this grievance list to my staff tonight and to change as manynegative conditions as possible, and to institute some of the positive things youhave suggested. I will bring a prison chaplain down tomorrow and have a secondVisiting Night this week, for starters.""That's great, thanks," says the head prisoner, Paul-5704, and the othersnod in agreement that progress is being made toward a more civil prison.We stand and shake hands, and they leave pacified. I hope that they will telltheir buddies to cool it from now on, so we can avoid such confrontations.PRISONER 8612 BEGINS A MELTDOWNDoug-8612 is not in a cooperative mood. He is not buying the goodwill messageof the grievance guys. More insubordination earns him more Hole time, with hishands cuffed continuously. He says he is feeling sick and demands to see the warden. A while later, Warden Jaffe meets with him in his office and listens to the prisoner complain about the arbitrary and "sadistic" behavior of the guards. Jaffetells him that his behavior is triggering the guards' reactions. If he would be morecooperative, Jaffe would see to it that the guards would lighten up on him. 8612says that unless that happens soon, he wants out. Jaffe is also concerned about hismedical complaints and asks if he wants to see a doctor, to which 8612 demursfor now. The prisoner is escorted back to his cell, from which he yells back andforth to comrade Rich-1037, who is still sitting in solitary complaining about theintolerable conditions and also wanting to see a doctor. Although seemingly comforted by his exchange with the warden, Prisoner8612 goes off screaming in rage, insisting on seeing "the fucking Dr. Zimbardo,Superintendent." I agree to see him immediately.Our Prison Consultant Mocks the Mock PrisonerThat afternoon, I had arranged for the first visit to the prison of my consultantCarlo Prescott, who had helped me design many of the features in the experiment to simulate a functional equivalent of imprisonment in a real jail. Carlohad recently been paroled from San Quentin State Prison after serving seventeen years there, as well as time served at Folsom and Vacaville Prisons, mostlyfor convictions on armed robbery felonies. I had met him a few months beforeduring one of the course projects that my social psychology students organizedaround the theme of individuals in institutional settings. Carlo had been invited by one of the students to give the class an insider's view of the realities of prison life.Carlo was only four months out of prison and filled with anger at the injustice of the prison system. He railed against American capitalism, racism, black Uncle Toms who do the Man's work against Brothers, warmongers, and muchmore. But he was remarkably perceptive and insightful about social interactions,as well as exceptionally eloquent, with a resonant baritone voice and seamless,nonstop delivery. I was intrigued by this man's views, especially since we wereabout the same age—me thirty-eight, him forty—and both of us had grown up inan East or West coast ghetto. But while I was going to college, Carlo was going to jail. We became fast friends. I became his confidant, patient listener to his extended monologues, psychological counselor, and "booking agent" for jobs andlectures. His first job was to co-teach with me a new summer school course atStanford University on the psychology of imprisonment. Carlo not only told theclass intimate details of his personal prison experiences, he arranged for otherformerly incarcerated men and women to share theirs. We added prison guards,prison lawyers, and others knowledgeable about the American prison system.That experience and intense mentoring by Carlo helped to infuse our little experiment with a kind of situational savvy never before seen in any comparable socialscience research.It is about 7 P.M. when Carlo and I watch one of the counts on the TV monitor that is recording the day's special events. Then we retreat to my superintendent's office to discuss how things are going and how I should handle tomorrow'sVisiting Night. Suddenly, Warden Jaffe bursts in to report that 8612 is really distraught, wants out, and insists on seeing me. Jaffe can't tell whether 8612 is justfaking it to get released and then to make some trouble for us, or if he is genuinelyfeeling ill. He insists that it is my call and not his to make."Sure, bring him in so I can assess the problem," I say. A sullen, defiant, angry, and confused young man enters the office. "Whatseems to be the trouble, young man?""I can't take it anymore, the guards are hassling me, they are picking on me,putting me in the Hole all the time, and—""Well, from what I have seen, and I have seen it all, you have brought this allon yourself; you are the most rebellious, insubordinate prisoner in the wholeprison.""I don't care, you have all violated the contract, I didn't expect to get treatedlike this, you—" 9 "Stop right there, punk!" Carlo lashes out against 8612 with a vengeance."You can't take what? Push-ups, jumping' jacks, guards calling you names andyelling at you? Is that what you mean by 'hassling'? Don't interrupt me. Andyou're crying about being put in that closet for a few hours? Let me straighten youout, white boy. You would not last a day at San Quentin. We would all smell your fear and weakness. The guards would be banging you upside your head, and before they put you in their real solitary concrete barren pit that I endured for weeksat a time, they'd throw you to us. Snuffy, or some other bad gang boss, would'vebought you for two, maybe three packs of cigarettes, and your ass would be bleeding bright red, white, and blue. And that would be just the beginning of turningyou into a sissy."8612 is frozen by the fury of Carlo's harangue. I need to rescue him becauseI can sense that Carlo is about to explode. Seeing our prisonlike setting hasbrought to his mind years of torment from which Carlo is but a few months away."Carlo, thanks for providing this reality check. But I need to know somethings from this prisoner before we can proceed properly. 8612, you realize that Ihave the power to get the guards not to hassle you, if you choose to stay and cooperate. Do you need the money—the rest of which you will forfeit by quittingearly?""Yeah, sure, but—""Okay, then here's the deal, no more guards hassling you, you stay and earnyour money, and in return all you have to do is cooperate from time to time, sharing a little information with me from time to time that might be helpful to me inrunning this prison.""I don't know about that...""Look, think over my offer, and if, later on, after a good dinner, you still wantto leave, then that will be fine, and you will be paid for time you have served. However, if you choose to continue, make all the money, not be hassled, and cooperatewith me, then we can put the first day's problems behind us and start over.Agreed?""Maybe, but—""No need to decide either way right now, reflect on my offer and decide latertonight, okay?" As 8612 quietly utters, "Well, all right," I escort him out to the warden'snext-door office to be returned to the Yard. I tell Jaffe that he is still deciding aboutstaying and will make his decision later on.I had thought up the Faustian bargain on the spot. I had acted like an evilprison administrator, not the good-hearted professor I like to think I am. As superintendent, I do not want 8612 to leave, because it might have a negative impacton the other inmates and because I think we might be able to get him to be morecooperative if we have guards back off their abusive behaviors toward him. But Ihave invited 8612, the rebel leader, to be a "snitch," an informer, sharing information with me in return for special privileges. In the Prisoner Code, a snitch isthe lowest form of animal life and is often kept in solitary by the authorities because if his informer role became known, he would be murdered. Later, Carlo andI retreat to Ricky's restaurant, where I try to put this ugly image behind me for ashort time while enjoying Carlo's new stories over a plate of lasagna. The Prisoner Tells Everyone That No One Can QuitBack in the Yard, Guards Arnett and J. Landry have the prisoners lined up againstthe wall doing yet another count before the end of their extended day shift. Oncemore, Stew-819 is being ridiculed by the guards for being so listless in joining hispeers, who are calling out in unison, "Thank you, Mr. Correctional Officer, for afine day!"The prison entrance door squeaks as it opens. The line of prisoners all look down the hall to see 8612 returning from his meeting with the prison authorities.He announced to them before seeing me that it was his bon voyage meeting. Hewas quitting, and there was nothing they could do to make him stay any longer.Doug-8612 now pushes his way through the line of his friends into Cell 2, throwing himself on his cot."8612, out here against the wall," Arnett orders."Fuck you," he replies defiantly."Against the wall, 8612.""Fuck you!" replies 8612.Arnett: "Somebody help him!"J. Landry asks Arnett, "Do you have the key to the handcuffs, sir?"Still in his cell, 8612 yells out, "If I gotta be in here, I'm not going to put upwith any of your shit." As he saunters out into the Yard, with half the prisonerslined up on either side of Cell 2, Doug-8612 offers them a new terrible reality: "Imean, you know, really. I mean, I couldn't get out! I spent all this time talking todoctors and lawyers and ..."His voice trails off, and it is not clear what this means. The other prisoners aregiggling at him. Standing in front of the other prisoners, defying orders to standagainst the wall, 8612 delivers an uppercut to his buddies. He continues to rant in his high-pitched, whiny voice: "I couldn't get out! They wouldn't let me out! You can't get out of here!" The inmates' initial giggles are replaced by nervous laughter. The guards ignore 8612 as they continue trying to discover where the keys to the handcuffsare, assuming they will handcuff 8612 and stuff him back in the Hole if he keepsthis up.One prisoner asks 8612, "You mean you couldn't break the contract?"Another prisoner inquires desperately, but not of anyone in particular, "CanI cancel my contract?"Arnett toughens up: "No talking on the line. 8612 will be around later foryou all to talk with."This revelation from one of their respected leaders is a powerful blow to theprisoners' resolve and defiance. Glenn-3401 reported on the impact of 8612's assertion: "He said you can't get out. You felt like you were really a prisoner. Maybeyou were a prisoner in Zimbardo's experiment and maybe you were getting paidfor it, but damn it, you were a prisoner. You were really a prisoner." He begins to fantasize some worst-case scenarios: "The thought that we hadsigned our lives away for two weeks, body and soul, was exceptionally frightening.The actual belief that 'we are really prisoners' was real—one couldn't escapewithout truly drastic action followed by a series of unknown consequences.Would the Palo Alto Police try to pick us up again? Would we get paid? How do Iget my wallet back?" 11 Rich-1037, who had been a problem for the guards all day long, was alsostunned by this new realization. He later reported, "I was told that I couldn't quit.At that point, I felt it was really a prison. There's no way I can describe how I feltat that moment. I felt totally helpless. More helpless than I have ever felt before." 12 It was evident to me that 8612 had trapped himself in multiple dilemmas. Hewas caught between wanting to be the tough-guy rebel leader but not wanting todeal with the guards' hassling, wanting to stay and earn the money he needed butnot wanting to be my informer. He was probably planning to become a doubleagent, lying to me or misleading me about prisoner activities, but not sure of hisability to carry off that deception. He should have immediately refused my offer totrade up for some comfort by becoming the official "snitch," but he did not. Atthat moment, if he had insisted on being released, I would have had to allow himthat option. Again, maybe he was too shamed by Carlo's taunting him to yieldreadily in front of him. All of these were possible mind games that he resolved byinsisting to the others that it was our official decision not to release him, puttingthe blame on the system.Nothing could have had a more transformative impact on the prisoners thanthe sudden news that in this experiment they had lost their liberty to quit on demand, lost their power to walk out at will. At that moment, the Stanford PrisonExperiment was changed into the Stanford Prison, not by any top-down formaldeclarations by the staff but by this bottom-up declaration from one of the prisoners themselves. Just as the prisoner rebellion changed the way the guards beganto think about the prisoners as dangerous, this prisoner's assertion about no one being allowed to quit changed the way all the mock prisoners felt about their newstatus as helpless prisoners. WE'RE BACK, IT'S NIGHT SHIFT TIME As if things were not bad enough for the prisoners, it is now night shift time, onceagain. Hellmann and Burdan have been pacing the Yard waiting for the day shiftto move out. They are wielding their billy clubs, yelling something into Cell 2,threatening 8612, insisting that a prisoner get back from the door, and pointingthe fire extinguisher at the cell, shouting to ask whether they want more of thiscool carbon dioxide spray in their faces.A prisoner asks Guard Geoff Landry: "Mr. Correctional Officer, I have a request. It's somebody's birthday tonight. Can we sing 'Happy Birthday'?"Before Landry can answer, Hellmann replies from the background, "We'll sing 'Happy Birthday' at lineup. Now it is dinner time, three at a time." The prisoners now sit around a table laid out in the middle of the yard to eat their skimpydinner. No talking allowed.Reviewing the tapes of this shift, I see a prisoner being brought in throughthe main doors by Burdan. The prisoner, who had just attempted to escape, standsat attention in the center of the hallway just beyond the dinner table. He is blindfolded. Landry asks the prisoner how he removed the lock on the door. He refusesto spill the beans. When the blindfold is taken off the escapee, Geoff warns menacingly, "If we see your hands near that lock, 8612, we'll have something reallygood for you." It was Doug-8612 who tried the escape plan! Landry pushes himback into his cell, where 8612 begins to scream obscenities again, louder thanbefore, and a stream of 'Fuck yous' floods the Yard. Hellmann says wearily into Cell2, "8612, your game is getting very old. Very old. It's not even amusing anymore."The guards rush to the dinner table to stop 5486 from conferring with hisCell mates, who have been forbidden to communicate. Geoff Landry shouts at5486, "Hey, hey! We can't deprive you of a meal, but we can take the rest of itaway. You've had something. The warden says we can't deprive you of meals, butyou've already had a meal, at least part of it. So we can take the rest away." Hethen makes a general pronouncement to everyone: "You guys seem to have forgotten about all of the privileges we can give you." He reminds them of the visiting hours tomorrow, which, of course, could be canceled if there is a lockdown.Some prisoners who are still eating say that they have not forgotten about Tuesday's seven o'clock visiting hours and are looking forward to them.Geoff Landry insists that 8612 put back on his stocking cap, which he hadtaken off during dinner. "We wouldn't want you dropping anything out of yourhair into your meal and getting sick on it." 8612 responds strangely, as though he is losing contact with reality: "I can'tput it on my head, it's too tight. I'll get a headache. What? I know that's reallyweird. That's why I'm trying to get out of here... they keep saying 'No, you won'tget a headache,' but I know I will get a headache."Now it becomes Rich-1037's turn to be despondent and detached. He is looking glassy-eyed, speaking only in a slow monotone. Lying on the floor of his cell,he keeps coughing, insists on seeing the superintendent. (I see him when I returnfrom my dinner, give him some cough drops, and tell him that he can leave if hefeels he can't take it anymore but that things will go better if he does not spend somuch time and energy rebelling. He reports feeling better and promises to try his best.) The guards next turn their attention on Paul-5704, who is now being moreassertive, as if to stand in for former rebel leader Doug-8612. "You don't look toohappy, 5704," Landry says, as Hellmann starts running his club against the barsof the cell door, making a loud clanging sound. Burdan adds, "You think they'dlike that [the loud bar clanging] after lights out, maybe tonight?" 5704 attempts a joke, but the guards are not laughing, although some of theprisoners are. Landry says, "Oh, that's good, that's real good. Keep it up, really.We're really getting entertained now. I haven't heard this type of kid stuff inabout ten years."The guards, standing tall, all in a row, stare at 8612, who is eating slowly andby himself. With one hand on their hips and the other swinging their billy clubsmenacingly, the guards display a united front. "We have a bunch of resisters,revolutionaries, here!" exclaims Geoff Landry.8612 then bolts up from the dinner table and races across to the rear wall,where he rips down the black scrim covering the video camera. The guards grabhim and drag him back into the Hole yet again. He says sarcastically, "Sorry, guys!" One of them responds, "You're sorry, huh. We'll have something for you laterthat you will be sorry for."When Hellmann and Burdan both start banging on the door of the Hole withtheir billy clubs, 8612 starts screaming that it is deafening and is making hisheadache worse.Doug-8612 yells out, "Fuckin' don't do that man, it hurts my ears!"Burdan: "Maybe you'll think about that before you want to do somethingthat gets you into the Hole next time, 8612."8612 answers, "Nah, you can just fuck off, buddy! Next time the doors godown, I mean it!" (He is threatening to tear down the door to his cell, the entrancedoor, and perhaps he means the wall where the observation camera is located.)A prisoner asks if they'll be having a movie tonight, as they had expected toget when the original details of the prison were described to them. A guardreplies, "I don't know if we'll ever have a movie!" The guards openly discuss the consequences of damaging prison property,and Hellmann grabs a copy of the prison rules, reading off the rule about damaging prison property. As he leans against Cell l's doorframe and twirls his billyclub, he seems to be inhaling confidence and dominance moment by moment. Instead of movie time, he will give them either work or R&R time, Hellmann tells his buddies. Hellmann: "Okay, let's have your attention, please. We have some fun linedup for everyone tonight. Cell 3, you're on rest and recreation, you can do what youplease because you washed your dishes and did your chores well. Cell 2, you've stillgot a little bit of work to do. And Cell 1, we've got a great blanket for you to pick all the stickers out of. Okay, bring them on in here, Officer, let's let them see, theygonna do just fine for Cell 1 to work on tonight if they want to sleep on a blanketwithout stickers."Landry hands Hellman some blankets coated with a new collection of stickers. "Oh, isn't that a beauty?" He continues his monologue: "Just look at thatblanket, ladies and gentleman! Look at that blanket! Isn't that a masterpiece? I want you to take each and every one of those stickers out of that blanket, becausethat's what you're gonna have to sleep on." A prisoner tells him, "We'll just sleepon the floor," to which Landry replies simply, "Suit yourself, suit yourself."It is interesting to see how Geoff Landry vacillates between the tough-guardand good-guard roles. He still has not relinquished control to Hellmann, to whosedominance he may aspire at some level, while feeling greater sympathy for theprisoners than Hellmann seems capable of. (In a later interview, the thoughtfulprisoner Jim-4325 describes Hellmann as one of the bad guards, nicknaming him"John Wayne." He describes the Landry brothers as two of the "good guards,"while most other prisoners agree that Geoff Landry was more often good than badas a guard.)A prisoner in Cell 3 asks whether it would be possible for them to get somebooks to read. Hellmann suggests giving them all "a couple of copies of the rules"as their bedtime reading material. Now it is time for another count. "Okay, there'llbe no goofing off tonight, remember? Let's start at 2093, and let's count off, justso we can keep in practice," he says.Burdan jumps on the bandwagon, walks right up in the prisoners' faces, andsays, "We didn't teach you to count that way. Loud, clear, and fast! 5704, you aresure slow enough! You can start off with the jumping jacks."The guards' punishment is becoming indiscriminate; they're no longer punishing prisoners for any specific reason. 5704 is having none of that: "I'm notgonna do it!"Burdan forces him into it, so he goes down, but not far enough, apparently."Down, man, down!" pushing him down by pressing on his back with his billyclub."Don't push, man.""What do you mean, 'Don't push'?" in a ridiculing tone."That's what I said, don't push!" "Just go on now and do your push-ups," Burdan orders. "Now get back inline."Burdan is decidedly much more vocal and involved than he was before, butHellmann is still clearly the "alpha male." However, when Burdan and Hellmannbecome the dynamic duo, suddenly Geoff Landry recedes into the background oris not on the Yard scene at all.Even 2093, the best prisoner, "Sarge," is forced to do push-ups and jumping jacks for no apparent reason. "Oh, that's nice! See how he does those? He's got a lot of energy tonight," says Hellmann. Then he turns on 3401: "Are you smiling?What are you smiling about?" His sidekick, Burdan, chimes in, 'Are you smiling,3401? You think this is funny? You wanna sleep tonight?""I don't want to see anyone smiling! This is no locker room here. If I see oneperson smile it's going to be jumping jacks for everyone for a long time!" Hellmann assures them. Picking up on the prisoners' need to lighten their grim surroundings, Hell-mann tells Burdan a joke for the benefit of the grim prisoners: "Officer, did youhear the one about the dog with no legs? Every night, his owner would take himout for a drag." He and Burdan laugh but note that the prisoners do not laugh.Burdan chides him, "They don't like your joke, Officer.""Did you like my joke, 5486?"Jerry-5486 prisoner answers truthfully, "No.""Come out here and do ten push-ups for not liking my joke. And do five morefor smiling, Fifteen in all."Hellmann is on a roll. He makes all the prisoners face the wall; then, whenthey turn around, he shows them the "one-armed pencil salesman." He puts onehand down his pants and puts his finger at his crotch, pushing out his pants as if he had an erection. The prisoners are told not to laugh. Some do laugh and arethen forced do push-ups or sit-ups. 3401 says he didn't think it was funny, but hehas to do push-ups for being honest. Next comes singing their numbers. Hellmann asks Sarge-2093 if that sounded like singing."It sounded like singing to me, Mr. Correctional Officer."Hellmann makes him do push-ups for disagreeing with his judgment.Unexpectedly, Sarge asks, "May I do more, sir?""You can do ten if you like."Then Sarge challenges him in an even more dramatic way: "Shall I do themuntil I drop?" "Sure, whatever." Hellmann and Burdan are unsure how to react to thistaunt, but the prisoners look at one another in dismay, knowing that Sarge mayset new criteria for self-inflicted punishment that will then be imposed on them.He is becoming a sick joke to them all.When next the prisoners are asked to count off in a complicated order, Burdan adds mockingly, "That shouldn't be so hard for boys with so much education]" In a sense, he is picking up on the current conservative ridicule of educated college people as "effete intellectuals snobs," even though, of course, he is a collegestudent himself. The prisoners are asked if they need their blankets and beds. All say they do."And what," Hellmann asks, "did you boys do to deserve beds and blankets?" "Wetook the foxtails out of our blankets," says one of them. He tells them to never say"foxtails." They should call them "stickers." Here is a simple instance of power determining language use, which, in turn, creates reality. Once the prisoner callsthem "stickers," Burdan says that they should get their pillows and blankets. Hellmann comes back with blankets and pillows under his arms. He then hands themout to everyone except Prisoner 5704. He asks him why it took him so long to getto work. "Do you feel like having a pillow? Why should I give you a pillow if youdidn't feel like working?" "Good karma," answers 5704, feeling a bit playful."I'll ask you again, why should I give you a pillow?" "Because I'm asking you to, Mr. Correctional Officer.""But you didn't get to work until ten minutes after everyone else did,"says Hellmann. He adds, "See to it that in the future you do work when youare told." Despite this misbehavior, Hellmann finally relents and gives him the pillow.Not to be totally upstaged by Hellmann, Burdan tells 5704, "Thank him real sweet." "Thank you.""Say it again. Say, 'Bless you, Mr. Correctional Officer.' " The sarcasm seepsthrough heavily.Hellmann successfully isolates 5704 from his revolutionary comrades bymaking him beg for a pillow. Simple self-interest is starting to win out over prisoner solidarity.Happy Birthday, Prisoner 5704Prisoner Terry-5486 reminds the guards of his request to sing "Happy Birthday"to 5704, which is a curious request at this point given that the prisoners are sotired and the guards are about to let them return to their cells and to sleep. Perhaps it is a measure of their connection with normal rituals in the outside worldor a small way to normalize what is rapidly approaching Abnormal.Burdan tells Hellmann, "We have a point of discussion from Prisoner 5486,Officer; he wants to do the 'Happy Birthday' song." Hellmann is upset when thebirthday song is intended for 5704. "It's your birthday, and you didn't work!"The prisoner replies that he shouldn't have to work on his birthday. Theguards go down the line and ask each one to say aloud whether he does or doesnot want to sing the birthday song. Each agrees that it is right to sing the birthdaysong to 5704 tonight. Prisoner Hubbie-7258 is then ordered to lead the others insinging "Happy Birthday"—the only pleasant sound in this place all day andnight. The first time through, there is a mixture of ways in which the recipient isaddressed—some sing happy birthday to "comrade," others to "5704." As soonas this happens, Hellmann and Burdan both scream at them. Burdan reminds them, "This gentleman's name is 5704. Now take it fromthe top."Hellmann compliments 7258 for his singing: "You give them a swing tempo,and then you sing it straight." He says that about cut-time music, showing off abit of his musical knowledge. But he then requests they sing the song again in amore familiar style, and they do. But their performance is not good enough, soagain they are told, "Let's have a little enthusiasm! A boy's birthday only happensonce a year." This prisoner-initiated break in routine to share some positive feelings among themselves is turned into another occasion of learning routinizeddominance and submission. The Final Breakdown and Release of 8612After lights out, and after Doug-8612 is finally turned out of solitary for the n thtime, he goes ballistic: "I mean, Jesus Christ, I'm burning up inside! Don't youknow?"The prisoner is screaming his angry confusion and torment to the wardenduring his second visit with Jaffe. "I want to get out! This is all fucked up inside! Ican't stand another night! I just can't take it anymore! I gotta have a lawyer! Do Ihave a right to ask for a lawyer? Contact my mother!"Trying to remind himself that this is just an experiment, he continues raving,"You're messing up my head, man, my head! This is an experiment; that contractis not serfdom! You have no right to fuck with my head!"He threatens to do anything necessary to get out, even to slit his wrists! "I'lldo anything to get out! I'll wreck your cameras, and I'll hurt the guards!"The warden tries his best to comfort him, but 8612 is having none of it;he cries and screams louder and louder. Jaffe assures 8612 that as soon as hecan contact one of the psychological counselors his request will be seriously considered. A short while later, Craig Haney returns from his late dinner and, after listening to Jaffe's tape recording of this dramatic scene, he interviews 8612 to determine whether he should be released immediately based on such severe emotionaldistress. At the time, we were all uncertain about the legitimacy of 8612's reactions; he might be just playacting. A check of his background information revealed that he was also a leading antiwar activist at his university, just last year.How could he really be "breaking down" in only thirty-six hours?8612 was indeed confused, as he revealed to us later: "I couldn't decidewhether the prison experience had really freaked me out, or whether I had induced those reactions [purposefully]."The conflict that Craig Haney was experiencing over being forced to makethis decision on his own, while I was out having dinner, is vividly expressed in hislater analysis: Although in retrospect it seems like an easy call, at the time it was a daunting one. I was a 2nd year graduate student, we had invested a great deal of time, effort, and money into this project, and I knew that the early releaseof a participant would compromise the experimental design we had carefully drawn up and implemented. As experimenters, none of us had predicted an event like this, and of course, we had devised no contingencyplan to cover it. On the other hand, it was obvious that this young man wasmore disturbed by his brief experience in the Stanford Prison than any of us had expected any of the participants to be even by the end of 2 weeks. SoI decided to release Prisoner 8612, going with the ethical/humanitariandecision over the experimental one. Craig contacted 8612's girlfriend, who quickly came by and collected himand his belongings. Craig reminded the two of them that if this distress continued, he could visit Student Health in the morning because we had arranged forsome of its staff to help deal with any such reactions.Fortunately, Craig made the right decision based on both humane considerations and legal ones. It was also the right decision considering the probable negative effect on the staff and inmates of keeping 8612 imprisoned in his state of emotional disarray. However, when Craig later informed Curt and me about hisdecision to release 8612, we were skeptical and thought that he had been takenin, conned by a good acting job. However, after a long discussion of all the evidence, we agreed that he had done the right thing. But then we had to explainwhy this extreme reaction had occurred so suddenly, almost at the very start of our two-week adventure. Even though personality tests had revealed no hint of mental instability, we persuaded ourselves that the emotional distress 8612 revealed was the product of his overly sensitive personality and his over reaction toour simulated prison conditions. Together Craig, Curt, and I engaged in a bit of "groupthink," advancing the rationalization that there must have been a flaw inour selection process that had allowed such a "damaged" person to slip by ourscreening—while ignoring the other possibility that the situational forces operating in this prison simulation had become overwhelming for him.Consider, for a moment, the meaning of that judgment. Here we were in themidst of a study designed to demonstrate the power of situational forces over dispositional tendencies, yet we were making a dispositional attribution!In retrospect, Craig expressed the fallacy in our thinking aptly: "It was onlylater that we appreciated this obvious irony, that we had 'dispositionally explained' the first truly unexpected and extraordinary demonstration of situational power in our study by resorting to precisely the kind of thinking we haddesigned the study to challenge and critique." 14 Confusion remained about 8612's ulterior motives. On the one hand, wewondered, was he really out of control, suffering from an extreme stress reaction,and so of course had to be released? Alternatively, had he started out by pretending to be "crazy," knowing that if he did a good job, we would have to release him?It might be that, in spite of himself, he had ended up temporarily "crazed" by hisover-the-top method acting. In a later report, 8612 complicates any simple understanding of his reactions: "I left when I should have stayed. That was very bad.The revolution isn't going to be fun, and I must see that. I should have stayed because it helps the fascists knowing that [revolutionary] leaders will desert whenthings get rough, that they are just manipulators. And I should have fought forwhat was right, and not thought of my interests." 15 Shortly after 8612 was terminated, one of the guards overheard the prisoners in Cell 2 discussing a plot in which Doug would return the next day with aband of his buddies to trash our prison and liberate the prisoners. It sounded tome like a far-fetched rumor until a guard reported seeing 8612 sneaking around the hallways of the Psychology Department the next morning. I ordered theguards to capture him and return him to the prison since he had probably beenreleased under false pretenses: not sick, just tricking us. Now I knew that I had toprepare for an all-out assault on my prison. How could we avert a major violentconfrontation? What could we do to keep our prison functioning—and oh, yes,our experiment also continuing? CHAPTER FIVE Tuesday's Double Trouble:Visitors and Rioters Our prisoners are looking raggedy and bleary-eyed, and our little prison is beginning to smell like a men's toilet in a New York subway station. Seems that someguards have made toilet visits a privilege to be awarded infrequently and neverafter lights out. During the night, prisoners have to urinate and defecate in buckets in their cells, and some guards refuse to allow them to be emptied till morning.Complaints are coming fast and furiously from many of the prisoners. 8612'sbreakdown of last night seemed to create a ripple effect among the prisoners, whotalked about not being able to take it anymore—according to what we were picking up from their bugged cells.With that as our canvas, we had to paint a brighter picture for the parents,friends, and girlfriends of the prisoners who would be coming to visit tonight. Asa parent, I surely would not let my son continue in such a place if I saw such exhaustion and obvious signs of stress after only three days. Contemplating ways tocope with that impending challenge had to take a backseat to the more urgentissue of the rumored break-in by rioters that 8612 could bring down upon us atany time. Perhaps it would come today, maybe even synchronized with visitinghours, when we would be most vulnerable.The day is just beginning for the morning shift at 2 A.M. Apparently the nightshift has hung around and all six guards are on the Yard at the same time afterthey have conferred in the guards' quarters about the need for stricter rules tocontrol the prisoners and prevent more rebellions.Seeing them all together makes clear that size does matter in deciding whowill emerge as shift leader. The tallest guards are Hellmann, leader of the nightshift; Vandy, moving into leadership of the morning shift; and Arnett, day shiftmajordomo. The shortest guards, Burdan and Ceros, have become henchmen of their shift leaders. Both are very bossy, quite aggressive vocally—shouting in theprisoners' faces—and decidedly more physical with the prisoners. They push them around, poke them, pull them out of lineups, and are the ones who drag reluctant prisoners into solitary. We are getting reports that they sometimes tripprisoners down the stairs when walking them to the toilet or push them into thewall urinals when they are alone with them in the bathroom. It is evident thatthey love their nightsticks. They are constantly holding the billy clubs close totheir chests, banging them against the bars and the doors or on the table to loudlymake their presence known. Some analysts might claim that they are using theirweapons to compensate for their smaller stature. But whatever the psychologicaldynamic involved, it is clear that they are becoming the meanest of the guards.However, Markus and Varnish, who are also on the shorter side, have beenrelatively passive, much quieter, less vocal, and less active than the rest. I haveasked the warden to make them more assertive. The Landry brothers are an interesting pair. Geoff Landry is a bit taller than Hellmann and has vied with him fordominance on the night shift, but he is no match for the creative exercises thatour budding John Wayne continually concocted. Instead, he moves in to give orders and to exercise control, then drifts back and out of the scene over and overagain in a kind of vacillation that's not seen in any other guard. Tonight he isnot carrying his nightstick at all; later on he even removes his silver reflectingsunglasses—a big no-no, according to our experimental protocol. His shorterbrother, John, has been tough on the prisoners, but he is nevertheless "going bythe book." He is not aggressively excessive, as Arnett is, but he does usually back up the boss with firm, no-nonsense orders.The prisoners are all about the same average height, about five-eight to five-ten, except for Glenn-3401, who is the shortest of all, around five-two, and tallPaul-5 704, who is tallest at maybe six feet two. Interestingly, 5704 is moving into the leadership position among the prisoners. He appears more self-confidentlately and assured in his rebelliousness. His mates have noticed this change inhim, as was evidenced by their electing him spokesperson for the Stanford CountyJail Prisoners' Grievance Committee, which had earlier negotiated with me for aseries of concessions and rights.NEW RULES, BUT OLD COUNTS CONTINUEFor yet another count at 2:30 A.M., the Yard is a bit crowded, with six guards present and seven prisoners lined up against the wall. Even though there is no reasonfor the night shift to hang around longer, they do so on their own. Maybe theywant to check out how the morning shift handles their routine. 8612 is gone, andsomeone else is missing. Vandy drags the reluctant, sleepy Prisoner 819 out of Cell 2 to complete the lineup. The guards are berating some prisoners for notwearing their stocking caps, reminding them that they are an essential part of their prison uniform.Vandy: "Here it is, time for count. How do you like that?"One prisoner says, "Fine, Mr. Correctional Officer.""How about the rest of you?"Sarge: "Wonderful, Mr. Correctional Officer!""Let's hear it from all of you, come on. You can do it better than that! Louder!" "Just fine, Mr. Correctional Officer." "Louder!" "What time is it?""Time for a count, Mr. Correctional Officer," one prisoner answers in a weak voice. 1 The prisoners are all lined up against the wall, hands against the wall, legsspread apart. They are clearly sluggish counting this early because they have sleptonly a few hours. Even though his shift time is over, Burdan is still being very assertive, shouting orders as he stalks around, waving his big stick. He pulls someone out of linerandomly."Okay, young man, you gonna do some push-ups for me!" he shouts.Now Varnish speaks up for the first time: "Okay, let's have your numbers.Starting with the right. Now!" Maybe he feels more confident among a largergroup of guards.Then Geoff Landry gets into the act: "Wait a minute, this guy over here,7258, doesn't even know his number backwards!" But why is Geoff still active onthis next shift? He walks around with his hands in his pockets, more like an unin-volved tourist than a prison guard. In fact, why is the whole night shift continuing to hang around after a long, tedious night? They should be on their way to bednow. Their presence is causing confusion and uncertainty about who should begiving orders. The counts follow the same formerly clever routines that are now becoming tedious: by twos, by ID numbers, backward, and singsong variations.Hellmann, having decided that this is not his cup of tea, says nothing, watches fora while, and then quietly exits.The old rules are repeated, and they too are to be sung. As the rule readinggoes on, Vandy exhorts the inmates to be louder, faster, crisper. The weary prisoners comply, their voices blending in dissonant synchrony. It is time for some newrules. So the guards, on their own, add some:"Prisoners must participate in all prison activities. That means counts!""Beds must be made and personal effects must be neat and orderly!""Floors must be spotless!""Prisoners must not move, tamper with, or deface walls, ceilings, windows,doors, or any other prison property!"Varnish has set up this drill that the prisoners must understand perfectlywell, in both substance and style. If they do a halfhearted job, he simply forcesthem to repeat the rules over and over again in mind-numbing variations.Varnish: "Prisoners must never operate cell lighting!"Prisoners: "Prisoners must never operate cell lighting."Vandy: "When must prisoners operate cell lighting?"Prisoners (now in perfect unison): "Never." They all sound exhausted, but their responses are crisper and louder thanthey were last night. All of a sudden, Varnish has become a leader—he's leadingthe recitation of the rules, insisting upon perfection from the prisoners, exertingdominance over them, and patronizing them. A new rule is proclaimed that is obviously geared to taunt Paul-5704, our nicotine addict.Varnish: "Smoking is a privilege!"Prisoners: "Smoking is a privilege.""What is smoking?""A privilege.""What?""A privilege." "Smoking will be allowed only after meals or at the discretion of the guard."Varnish: "I don't like this monotone, let's go up the scale."The prisoners comply, repeating the words in a higher register."I suggest you start a little lower, you can't go higher from your top note."He wants the prisoners to ascend the scale as they're speaking. Vandydemonstrates.Varnish: "That's lovely!"Varnish is reading these new rules from a sheet held in one hand, while in theother he holds his club. The rest of the guards are also caressing their clubs, except for Geoff L., whose continued presence makes no sense at all. As Varnishleads the prisoners in reciting the rules, Vandy, Ceros, and Burdan move into andout of the cells, in and around the prisoners, looking for the missing handcuff keys, weapons, or anything suspicious. Ceros forces Sarge out of line and forces him to stand with his hands againstthe opposite wall, legs spread, as he blindfolds him. He then handcuffs Sarge, orders him to collect the refuse bucket, and then leads him to dump it in the toiletoutside the prison.One after another each prisoner shouts out, "The superintendent's!" as theanswer to the question posed by Varnish: "Whose orders are supreme?" It's myturn on our early-morning shift to tape-record the key events while Curt andCraig catch some shut-eye. Seems strange to hear this assertion that my ordersare "supreme." In my other life, I make it a point never to give orders, only suggestions or hints about what I want or need.Varnish eggs them on, forcing them to sing out "Punishment" as the lastword in the rule about what happens if any of the other rules are not obeyed.They must sing the feared word at their highest pitch again and again to makethem feel ridiculous and humiliated.This has been going on for nearly forty minutes, and the prisoners aresquirming; their legs are getting stiff, their backs are aching, but none of them iscomplaining. Burdan orders the prisoners to turn around and face front for a uniform inspection.Then Vandy questions 1037 about why he doesn't have on his stocking cap."One of the guards took it away, sir."Vandy: "I don't know of any correctional officer who took it. Are you sayingthat the correctional officers really don't know what's happening?""No, I'm not saying that, Mr. Correctional Officer."Vandy: "So it was you who lost the cap."1037: "Yes, I did, Mr. Correctional Officer."Vandy: "Fifteen push-ups.""Would you like me to count?"Vandy makes it public that prisoner 3401 has been complaining of being sick. Varnish responds, "We don't like sick prisoners. Why don't you do twenty sit-ups, right now, to make you feel better?" He then accuses 3401 of being a crybabyand takes away his pillow."Okay, everyone who has a stocking cap, go back to your room. Those whodon't, stand there. You can sit on your beds but not lie down. Actually, make yourbeds—no wrinkles whatsoever."Then Varnish orders synchronized group push-ups for the three bareheadedinmates. He jumps down off the table where he has been sitting as he bangs hisbilly club for emphasis. He stands over the prisoners, shouting "Down, up!" asthey do their punishment ritual. Paul-5704 stops, protesting that he just can't doany more. Varnish relents and allows the prisoners to stand up against the wall."Okay, you all stand by your beds until you find three stocking caps. If you'reunable to find your stocking cap, put a towel on your head."819, what kind of a day was it?" "A wonderful day, Mr. Correctional Officer.""Okay, make your beds, without any wrinkles whatsoever, then sit on them."By this time, the other guards have left, and only the morning shift guards remain, including the backup guard, Morison, quietly observing all this authoritarian abuse. He tells the prisoners that they can lie down if they wish, and theyimmediately hit the sack and are in dreamland almost instantly.An hour or so later, the warden stops by, looking very dapper in a tweedy jacket and tie. He seems to be growing a little each day, or maybe he is standingmore erect than I can recall his standing in the past."Attention, attention," he intones. "When the prisoners are properly attired,they should line up in the yard for further inspection."The guards go to Cells 2 and 3 and tell the prisoners to get up and go out intothe Yard. Once again, their brief nap is disrupted.Out come the occupants of Cells 2 and 3 once more. Stew-819 has found hisstocking cap; Rich-1037 is wearing a towel turban style, while Paul-5704 wearshis towel in Little Red Riding Hood style, draped over his long black locks.Varnish inquires of Sarge: "How did you sleep?""Wonderful, Mr. Correctional Officer."5704 won't go that far and simply says, "Good." Varnish turns him to facethe wall as another guard calls out a primary rule:"Prisoners must always address the guards as 'Mr. Correctional Officer.' "5704 does push-ups for not having added that note of respect to his halfhearted lie, "Good."The warden walks slowly down the file of prisoners, like a general reviewinghis troops: "This prisoner seems to have a problem with his hair, and he alsoseems to have a problem with proper identification. Before any further activity, heneeds to be properly identified." The warden moves down the line, evaluating theproblem prisoners, and asks the guards to take necessary remedial action. "Thisprisoner's hair is sticking out underneath his towel." He insists that the ID numbers be sown back on or replaced by numbers inked on with a Sharpie pen. "Tomorrow is Visitors' Day. That means that we want to show all our visitorswhat good-looking prisoners we have. Isn't that right? That means that Prisoner819 has to learn how to wear his stocking cap. I would suggest that at some future time, Prisoners 3401 and 5704 be taught to wear their towels in the waythat Prisoner 1037 is wearing it. Now back to your cells."The prisoners go back to sleep until awakened for breakfast. It's time for anew day, and the day shift comes on duty. A new count is tried out, this timecheerleader style, each prisoner cheering his number:"Gimme a 5, gimme a 7, gimme an 0, gimme a 4. What does that spell?5704!" Arnett and John Landry and Markus are back with this new torment. Upand down the line, each prisoner steps forward to give this cheerleader renditionof his number. And on and on and ... Identity and Role Boundaries Are Becoming PermeableAfter less than three days into this bizarre situation, some of the students role-playing prison guards have moved far beyond mere playacting. They have internalized the hostility, negative affect, and mind-set characteristic of some realprison guards, as is evident from their shift reports, retrospective diaries, and personal reflections.Ceros is proud of the way the guards "picked it up today," saying, "We weremore orderly, received excellent results from the prisoners." Still, he is concernedabout possible danger: "Worried that the quietness may be deceptive, may beplans for a breakout are afoot." 2 Varnish reveals his initial reluctance to get into the guard role, which was soapparent that I had to get the warden to set him straight. "It wasn't till the secondday that I decided I would have to force myself to really go about this thing in theright way. I had to intentionally shut off all feelings I had towards any of the prisoners, to lose sympathy and any respect for them. I began to treat them as coldlyand harshly as possible verbally. I would not let show any feelings they might liketo see, like anger or despair." His group identification has also become stronger: "Isaw the guards as a group of pleasant guys charged with the necessity of maintaining order among a group of persons unworthy of trust or sympathy—theprisoners." He notes further that the toughness of the guards peaked at tonight's2:30 counts, and he likes that. 3 Vandy, who has begun to share the dominant role with Varnish on the morning shift, is not as active today as earlier because he is very tired, feeling subduedfrom his lack of sleep. But he is pleased to see the prisoners getting so totally intotheir roles: "They don't see it as an experiment. It is real and they are fighting tokeep their dignity. But we are always there to show them who is boss."He reports feeling increasingly bossy and forgetting that this is just an experiment. He finds himself just "wanting to punish those who did not obey so thatthey would show the rest of the prisoners the right way to behave." The depersonalization of the prisoners and the spreading extent of dehu-manization are beginning to affect him, too: "As I got angrier and angrier, I didn'tquestion this behavior as much. I couldn't let it affect me, so I started hiding myself deeper behind my role. It was the only way of not hurting yourself. I wasreally lost on what was happening but didn't even think about quitting."Blaming the victims for their sorry condition—created by our failure to provide adequate shower and sanitation facilities—became common among thestaff. We see this victim blame in operation as Vandy complains, "I got tired of seeing the prisoners in rags, smelling bad, and the prison stink." 4 SAFEGUARDING THE SECURITY OF MY INSTITUTIONIn my role as prison superintendent, my mind has become focused on the mostimportant issue facing the head of any institution: What must I do to ensure thesafety and security of the institution in my charge? The threat to our prison by therumored assault forced my other role as researcher into the background. Howmust I deal here and now with the impending break-in by 8612's party of raiders? Our morning staff meeting reviewed many options and settled on transferring the experiment to the old city jail, which was abandoned when the new central police station was completed, the one where our prisoners had been bookedon Sunday. I remembered that the sergeant had asked that morning why we didnot want to use the old jail for our study since it was vacant and had large cellsavailable. Had I thought of it before, I would have, but we had already put intoplace the recording equipment, arrangements with the university food service,and other logistical details that would be easier to handle from the Psychology Department's building. This new alternative was just what we needed.While I am away making arrangements for new facilities, Curt Banks willhandle the Prisoners' Grievance Committee's second meeting. Craig Haney willsupervise the preparations for visiting times, and Dave Jaffe will oversee the day'susual activities of his correctional officers.I am pleased that the sergeant can meet me on such short notice. We meet inthe old jail downtown on Ramona Street. I explain my predicament as the need toavoid a physical force confrontation, like the kind that happened last year whenthe police and students clashed on campus. I urge his cooperation. Together weinspect the site, as though I were a prospective buyer. It is perfect for a transfer of the remainder of the study and it will add even more prison realism to this experience. Back at police headquarters, I fill out a set of official forms and request thatthe jail be ready for our use by nine that night (right after visiting hours). I alsopromise that for the next ten days we will keep it spanking clean, the prisonerswill work at it, and I will pay for any damages that might occur. We make sure toshake hands with the firm shake that separates sissies from real men. I thank himprofusely for saving the day. What a relief; that was easier than I had imagined.Relieved by this stroke of luck and proud of my quick thinking, I treat myself to a cup of espresso and a cannoli, soaking in some rays at the outdoor cafe on yetanother balmy summer day. It is still paradise in Palo Alto. Nothing has changedsince Sunday.Shortly after my celebratory staff briefing about our transfer plans, a disheartening call comes in from the Police Department: No go! The city manager isworried about getting sued if someone gets hurt while they are on the city property. Issues of false imprisonment are also raised. I beg the sergeant to allow me totry to persuade the city manager that his fears were unwarranted. I urge institutional cooperation, reminding him of my connection with Chief Zurcher. I pleadfor his understanding that someone is more likely to get hurt if there were to be abreak-in at our low-security facility. "Please, can't we work it out?" "Sorry, but theanswer is no; I hate to let you down, but it is purely a matter of business." I havelost my smart move for this righteous prisoner transfer, and clearly I am also losing my perspective.What must that police officer be thinking about a psychology professor whobelieves he is a prison superintendent, wildly fearful about some assault on "hisprison?" "Nutcase," maybe? "Over the top," likely. "Psycho psychologist," probably.You know what? I told myself, who cares what he's thinking? Gotta move on,time is pressing. Ditch that plan, move to another: First, put an informant into theprisoner mix to get better information about the impending riot. Then arrange tofoil the rioters by pretending the study is over when they break in. We will disassemble the prison cells to make it look as though everyone has gone home, and Iwill tell them that we have decided to discontinue the research, so no heroics, justgo back where you came from.After they leave, we will have time to fortify the prison and generate betteroptions. We had found a large storage room on the top floor of the building wherewe would house the inmates right after visiting hours—assuming that the break-in does not occur during that time. Then later that night we will return them andfix up the prison so it will be more resistant to assault. Our shop technician is already working on ways to fortify the entrance doors, put up an outside surveillance camera, and enhance prison security in other ways. Seems like a sensiblebackup plan, no?Obviously, I was irrationally obsessed with the imagined assault on "myprison." Planting an InformerWe need more precise information about the impending attack, so I decide toput an informer into the jail, a presumed replacement for the released prisoner.David G. is a student of mine who had the kind of analytical mind we needed.Surely, his big bushy beard and unkempt appearance will endear him to the prisoners as one of their own. He had helped out earlier with videotaping during theinitial stages of the study, to relieve Curt, and so had a sense of the place and theaction. David agrees to participate for a few days and to give us whatever information he could glean that might be helpful. We will then have him sent to one of thestaff offices on some pretext so he can spill the beans.Dave quickly discovers the guards' new doctrine, which one of them makesexplicit: "Good prisoners will have no cares, troublemakers will have no peace."Most of the prisoners are in the process of deciding that it does not make sense to accept their prisoner role in its most contentious form by constantly opposing theguards. They are beginning to accept their fate and to cope day by day with whatever is done to them because "the prospect of two weeks of hassling over sleep,meals, beds, and blankets was too much." But Dave notes a new mood that hadnot been present earlier. "Paranoia strikes deep here," he later said about the rumors of escape. 5 No one questions David's introduction into the study. Nonetheless, he feelsthat the guards know he is different from the others—but they aren't quite surewhat he is doing there. They do not know his identity and simply treat him like allthe others—badly. David is soon distressed over the bathroom routine:"I had to shit in 5 minutes, to piss with a bag over my head while someonetells me where the urinal is. I couldn't do it, in fact, I couldn't even piss in the urinal, had to go to the john and close it and know that somebody's not going to jump on me!" 6 He befriends Rich-1037, his Cell 2 mate; they quickly bond. But all tooquickly. In a matter of hours, our trusted informer, David G., is transformed,wearing the old uniform of Doug-8612. Dave reports "feeling guilty being sent torat on these great guys, and was relieved when there was really nothing to tell." 7 But was there really no information to share?1037 tells David that the prisoners cannot quit at any time. He goes on to advise him not to be as rebellious as he was in his first counts. It is not the best thingfor them to do at this time. The way to plan an escape, 1037 confides, is to make"the prisoners play along with the guards so that we can get them at their weak spot." In fact, David told us later that 8612 had not organized any escape plot at all!However, we had already wasted a lot of time and energy in preparing to blunt theattack. "Sure a few of these guys sort of dreamed of their friends coming duringvisitors' hours and busting them out," he said, "or of slipping away during washroom breaks, but it was clear it was all a dream"—a scrap of hope to holdon to. We gradually realize that David has violated his verbal contract with us toenact the informer role in this emergency. Accordingly, when someone steals thekeys to the police handcuffs later that day, David tells us that he has no idea wherethey are. He had lied, as we learned from his diary report at the end of the experiment: "I knew where the handcuff key was after a while, but didn't tell, at leastnot until it didn't matter anymore. I would have told, but I was not about to betraythese guys right in front of them."This rather sudden and amazing transformation into the prisoner mentalitywas even more evident in some of David's other feedback. He felt that during histwo days in our jail, he was no different from the others, "with the exception thatI had knowledge of when I would get out, but even that knowledge became lessand less certain since I was depending on people on the outside to get me out. I already hated this situation." And at the end of his first day in the Stanford CountyJail, David, the informer, tells us, "I fell asleep that night feeling dirty, guilty, scared." Grievances Are VentedThe same committee of three prisoners that I met with earlier came armed with along list of grievances that they had delivered to Curt Banks while I was awaydealing with the city police. The same three-prisoner team, headed by 5704,along with 4325 and 1037, were elected by all the prisoners. Curt listened respectfully to their complaints. Among them: unsanitary conditions due to toiletrestrictions; no clean water to wash hands before meals; no showers; fear of communicable disease; handcuffs and leg chain irons too tight, causing bruises andabrasions. They also wanted church services on Sundays. In addition, they requested the option of alternating the chain from one leg to the other, exercise opportunities, recreation time, clean uniforms, allowing prisoners to communicatebetween cells, overtime pay for Sunday work, and, in general, the opportunity tobe doing something more valuable than just lying around.Curt listened impassively, as he usually did, without any show of emotion.William Curtis Banks, a light-skinned African-American man in his late twenties,father of two children, a second-year graduate student proud to have made it intothe world's top psychology department, was as hardworking and high achievingas any student I had ever worked with. He had no time for frivolity, excess, weaknesses, excuses, or fools. Curt kept his emotions to himself behind a stoic façade.Tim-4325, who was also a reserved person, must have interpreted Curt's detached manner as his being displeased. He hastened to add that these were notreally "grievances," rather "just suggestions." Curt thanked them politely fortheir suggestions and promised to share them with his superiors for their consideration. I wonder whether they noticed that he took no notes and that they had failedto give him their penciled list for the record. What was most important to our System was to provide the semblance of democracy in this authoritarian setting. However, citizen dissent demands changes in the system. If taken wisely, suchchange prevents open disobedience and rebellion. But when dissent is co-opted bythe system, disobedience is curtailed and rebellion shelved. In fact, without getting any assurances of reasonable attempts to address any of their complaints,these elected officials had little likelihood of achieving any of their goals. TheStanford County Jail Prisoners' Grievance Committee failed in its main missionto make a dent in the system armor. However, they left feeling good about having openly vented and having some authority, even a low-level one, listen to theircomplaints.The Prisoners Make Contact with the Outside WorldThe prisoners' first letters were invitations to potential visitors, some of whomwould be coming by tonight, on this, the third day of the experiment. The second round of letters could be to visitors invited for the next visitor night or to anyfriend or family member who was too far away to visit. After the prisoners composed them on our official stationery, the guards collected them for mailing, andof course, as duly noted in one of the rules, they were screened for security. Thefollowing samples give some sense of what the prisoners were feeling, and at leastin one case came as a major surprise to us.Handsome All-American Hubbie-7258 suggests to his girlfriend that she"bring some interesting pictures or posters to break the boredom of sitting on abed and staring at blank walls."Tough guy, Zapata-mustached Rich-1037 conveys his anger to a buddy: "It'snot like a job anymore, I'm fucked because you can't get out of here."Stew-819, whose complaints have been increasing, sends mixed messages tohis friend: "The food here is as good and plentiful as the 3rd day of Ebenezer's second voyage to Thailand. Not much happens here of interest, basically I sleep,shout my number, and get hassled. It will be great to get out."The diminutive Asian-American prisoner, Glenn-3401, makes clear his disdain for this place: "Having a miserable time. Please fire bomb Jordan Hall as a diversionary tactic. My buddies and I are damn frustrated. We intend to make a runfor it as soon as possible, but first I've promised to crack a few craniums on theway out." Then he adds a puzzling P.S.: "Be careful not to let the nitwits knowyou're real..." Real? The surprise came from a letter by nicotine-addicted Paul-5704, the newleader of the prisoners. In that letter, 5704 does a stupid thing for a self-styledrevolutionary. He tips off his girlfriend—in an unsecured letter—that he plans towrite a story about his experience for a local underground newspaper when hegets out. He has discovered that the Office of Naval Research, of the Departmentof Defense, is supporting my research. 9 Consequently, he has hatched a conspiracy theory arguing that we are trying to find out how best to imprison studentprotestors who are opposing the Vietnam War! Obviously he is not an experiencedrevolutionary, because it was not smart to discuss his subversive plans in a letterthat we would be likely to screen.Little did he know that I myself was a radical, activist professor, against theVietnam War since 1966, when I had organized one of the nation's first all-nightuniversity "teach-ins" at New York University, organized a large-scale walk-out atNYU's graduation ceremony to protest the university's awarding an honorary degree to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, and in the last year, at Stanford,I had organized thousands of students into constructive challenges to the continuing war. I was a kindred political spirit but not a mindlessly kindred revolutionary.His letter begins, "I have made arrangements with The Tribe and The Berkeley Barb [alternative free radical newspapers] to carry the story when I get out."5704 then brags about his new status in our little prison community: "Today Ihave gotten together a grievance committee of which I am chairman. TomorrowI am organizing a Credit Union for our collective wages." He goes on to describe that he is benefiting from this experience: "I am learning a lot about revolutionary incarceration tactics. Guards accomplish nothing because you just can't keepthe old freak morale down. Most of us here are freaks and I don't really think anyone will crack before this thing is over. A few are starting to get servile, but theyexert no influence on the rest of us." In addition, he signs off with a big, bold"Your prisoner, 5704."I decide not to share this information with the guards, who might reallyabuse him in retaliation. But it is upsetting to think that my research grant statusis being accused of being a tool of the administration's war machine, especiallysince I have worked to encourage effective dissent by student activists. That grantwas originally given to fund empirical and conceptual research on the effects of anonymity, of conditions of deindividuation, and on interpersonal aggression.When the idea for the prison experiment occurred, I got the granting agency toextend the funding to pay for this research as well, without any other additionalfunding. I am angry that Paul and probably his Berkeley buddies are spreadingthis falsehood.Whether driven by his sporadic mood shifts, nicotine cravings, or his desire tomake exciting material for his journalistic expose, 5704 has created a lot of difficulty for all of us today—a day when we already had too much to handle. Withthe help of his cellmates, he also bent the bars on Cell 1's door, for which he gotHole time. While in the Hole, he kicked down the partition between the two compartments, for which action he was denied lunch and also received extended solitary time. He continues to be noncooperative during dinner and obviously upsetthat no one has come to visit him. Fortunately, following his meeting after dinnerwith the warden, who sternly rebuked him, we notice that 5704's behavior haschanged for the better. PREPPING FOR THE VISITORS:THE HYPOCRITICAL MASQUERADE I had hoped Carlo would be able to come from Oakland to work with me on howbest to prepare for the onslaught of parents. But, as usual, his old car has brokendown and is being repaired, hopefully in time for his scheduled appearance thenext day as head of our Parole Board. After a long phone conversation, the gameplan is set. We will do just what all prisons do when unwelcome visitors descendon them, ready to document abuses and confront the system with demands forimprovement: prison officials cover the bloodstains with doilies, hide the bodies byputting troublemakers out of sight, and make the scene pretty.Carlo offers sage advice about what I might do in the short time available tocreate the appearance to parents of a well-oiled, benevolent system that is takinggood care of their children while we are in charge of them. He makes it clear,however, that we must convince these middle-class, white parents to believe inthe good we are doing with the study and, like their sons, make them comply with the demands of the authorities. Carlo laughs as he says, "You white folks sure liketo conform to the Man, so they know they are doing the right thing, just doing likeeveryone else is doing."Turn on Action Central: Prisoners wash the floors and their cells, the Holesign is removed, and a disinfectant with a fresh eucalyptus scent is sprayed all overto counter the urine odors. The prisoners are shaved, sponge-washed, and as wellgroomed as can be. Stocking caps and head towels are stashed away. Finally, thewarden warns everyone that any complaints will result in premature terminationof the visit. We ask the day shift to do overtime until 9 P.M. both to cope with thevisitors and also to be ready to assist should the anticipated riot materialize. Forgood measure, I invite our entire group of backup guards to come in as well.Next we feed our prisoners their best hot meal, chicken pot pie, with secondsand double desserts for the gourmands among them. Music gently infuses theYard as the men eat. The day guards are serving the dinner, while the nightguards are watching. Without the laughter or snickering that usually accompanies the meals, the atmosphere is strangely civil and rather ordinary.Hellmann is sitting at the head of the table, leaning back but still showing hisbig club, prominently swinging it around: "2093, you never had it so good, didyou?"2093 replies: "No, I haven't, Mr. Correctional Officer.""Your mother never gave you seconds, did she?""No, she didn't, Mr. Correctional Officer," Sarge replies obediently."You see how good you've got it here, 2093?""Yes, I do, Mr. Correctional Officer." Hellmann picks some food from Sarge'splate and walks away, sneering at him. Bad blood is developing between them. Meanwhile, in the corridor outside the main prison door, we are making finalpreparations for the visitors, whose potential for making trouble is a realistic fear.Opposite the wall housing the three offices of the guards, the warden, and the superintendent are a dozen folding chairs for visitors while they await entry. As theycome down into the basement, full of good humor at what seems a novel, fun experience, we deliberately and systematically bring their behavior under situational control, according to plan. They have to be taught that they are our guests,to whom we were granting the privilege of visiting their sons, brothers, friends,and lovers.Susie Phillips, our attractive receptionist, welcomes the visitors warmly. Sheis seated behind a large desk with a dozen fragrant red roses at one side. Susie isanother of my students, a psychology major and also a Stanford Dolly, chosen forthe cheerleading team for her good looks and gymnastic abilities. She signs eachvisitor in, noting time of arrival, number in party, and name and number of theinmate he or she will visit. Susie informs them of the procedure that must be followed tonight. First, each visitor or group sees the warden for a briefing, afterwhich they can go into the prison when their relative or friend has finished hisdinner. On the way out, they are to meet with the superintendent to discuss any concerns they may have or to share their reactions. They agree to these terms andthen sit and wait while they listen to music piped in over the intercom.Susie apologizes for their having to wait so long, but it seems that the prisoners are taking a longer time than usual tonight because they are enjoying doubledesserts. That does not sit well with some visitors, who have other things to doand are getting impatient to see their prisoner and this unusual prison place.After conferring with the warden, our receptionist informs the visitors thatbecause the prisoners have taken so long to eat, we will have to limit the visitingtime to ten minutes and admit only two visitors per inmate. The visitors grumble;they are upset with their kids and friends for being so inconsiderate. "Why justtwo of us?" they ask.Susie replies that the space inside is very tight and there is a fire law aboutmaximum occupancy. She adds, as an aside, "Didn't your child or friend tell youabout the limit of two visitors when he invited you here?""Damn! No, he didn't!""I'm sorry, I guess it must have slipped his mind, but now you will know nexttime you visit."The visitors try to make the best of it, chatting among themselves about thisinteresting study. Some complain about the arbitrary rules, but, remarkably, theymeekly comply with them, as good guests do. We have set the stage for them tobelieve that what they are seeing in this lovely place is standard, and to distrustwhat they might hear from their irresponsible, selfish kids and buddies, who arelikely to complain. And so they too become unwitting participants in the prisondrama we are staging. Up-Close and Impersonal Visits Prisoner 819's parents are the first to enter the Yard, looking around curiouslywhen they notice their son seated at the end of the long table in the middle of the corridor. Father asks the guard, "Can I shake hands with him?""Sure, why not?" he answers, surprised by the request.Then his mother also shakes hands with her son! Shakes hands? No automatic hugging of parents and their child?(This kind of awkward exchange involving minimal body contact is whathappens when one is visiting a real maximum-security prison, but we never madethat a condition for visiting in our prison. It was our previsit manipulation of thevisitors' expectations that worked to create confusion about what behaviors wereappropriate in this strange place. When in doubt, do the minimal amount.)Burdan is standing over the prisoner and his parents. Hellmann comes andgoes at will, invading the privacy of 819's interaction with his folks. He loomsover 819 as this little familial triad pretends to ignore him and carry on a normalconversation. However, 819 knows that he has no chance to say anything badabout the prison or he will suffer later. His parents cut their visit short to only five minutes so that 819's brother and sister can share some of the limited visiting.They shake hands again as they say their good-byes."Yeah, things are pretty good here," Stew-819 tells his siblings.They and other friends of the prisoners act a lot differently from the uptightways of the generally more intense parents. They are more casual, more amused,and not as intimidated by the situational constraints as the parents. But guardsare hovering over everyone.819 continues, "We have some pleasant conversations with the correctionalofficers." He describes the "Hole for punishment," and as he points toward it, Bur-dan interrupts: "No more talking about the Hole, 819."The sister asks about the number on his smock and wants to know what theydo all day. 819 answers her questions and also describes the impact of the policearrest. As soon as he begins to talk about problems he has with the night guardshift, Burdan again stops him cold.819: "They get us up early in the morning .. . some guards are really good,top correctional officers. There's not really any physical abuse; they do have clubs,but..."His brother asks him what he would do if he could get out. 819 answers, as agood prisoner should, "I can't be out there, I am in this wonderful place."Burdan ends the visit after precisely five minutes. Ceros has been sitting atthe table the entire time, with Varnish standing behind the table. The guards outnumber the guests! 819's face turns grim as his guests smilingly wave good-bye.In come the mom and dad of Prisoner Rich-1037. Burdan immediately sitsdown on the table, glowering over them. (I notice for the first time that Burdanlooks like a sinister Che Guevara.)1037: "Yesterday was kinda strange. Today we washed all the walls in hereand cleaned our cells in here ... we don't have a sense of time. We haven't beenout to see the sun." His dad asks whether they will stay inside for the entire two weeks. Son is notsure but imagines that is the case. This visit seems to be going well, the conversation is animated, but Mom shows that she is worried about her son's appearance.John Landry saunters over to chat with Burdan as both stand within hearing of the visitors' conversation. 1037 does not mention that the guards have takenaway his bed and so he is sleeping on the floor."Thanks for coming," 1037 says with feeling. "I'm glad I came ... see yousoon, day after tomorrow, for sure." Mom comes back when 1037 asks her to callsomeone on his behalf."Now, you be good and follow the rules," she urges her son.Dad gently ushers her out the door, aware that they might be staying overtime in their visit and preventing others from the chance to enjoy visiting privi leges. The guards all perk up when they spy Hubbie-7258's attractive girlfriendenter the yard. She is carrying a box of cupcakes, which she wisely shares with them. The guards eagerly munch them down, making hearty sounds for the benefit of their captives. 7258 is allowed to eat one cupcake while he and his girl getinto an animated conversation. They seem to be trying hard to be oblivious of theguard's breathing down their necks; all the while Burdan hovers next to them,rapping his club on the table in staccato.The intercom background music is playing the Rolling Stones' hit "Time Ison My Side." This irony is missed as visitors come and go for their all-too-brief encounter.Mother Knows Best, but Dad and I Do Her InI thank each of the visitors for taking time from their busy schedules to make thisvisit. Like the warden, I try to be as accommodating and congenial as possible. Iadd that I hope they appreciate what we are to do by studying prison life in as realistic a fashion as possible within the limits of an experiment. I answer theirquestions about future visits, about sending gift boxes, and counter their personalasides urging that I especially look after their son. It is all going like clockwork,only a few more visitors to process before I can turn my full attention to dealingwith the expected danger to our dungeon. However, thinking ahead to the nextgame, I am blindsided by 1037's mother. I am not prepared for the intensity of herdistress.As soon as she and Dad enter my office, she says in a quavering voice, "I don'tmean to make trouble, sir, but I am worried about my son. I have never seen himlooking so tired."Red alert! She could make trouble for our prison! And she is right, 1037 looksterrible, not only physically exhausted but depressed. He is one of the mostraggedy-looking kids of the entire lot. "What seems to be your son's problem?" This reaction is immediate, automatic, and like that of every authority confronted by a challenge to the operating procedures of his system. Like all otherperpetrators of institutional abuse, I ascribe the problem of her son as dispositional, as his problem—as something wrong in him. She is having none of that diversionary tactic. Mom continues on to say thathe looks so haggard, has not been sleeping through the night, and—"Does he have a sleep disorder?""No, he says that the guards wake them up for something called 'counts.' ""Yes, of course, the counts. When each new shift of guards comes on duty,they must be sure the men are all present and accounted for, so they have themcount off their numbers.""But in the middle of the night?""Our guards work eight-hour shifts, and since one group of them starts attwo A.M., they have to wake up the prisoners to be sure they are all there, thatnone have escaped. Doesn't that make sense to you?""Yes, but I'm not sure that—" She is still primed to make trouble, so I move on to another more potent tactic and engage Dad, who has been silent. Looking him straight in the eye, I put hismasculine pride at risk."Excuse me, sir. Don't you think that your son can take it?""Sure, he can, he's a real leader, you know, captain of the ... and..."Only half listening to the words but understanding their tone and accompanying gestures, I bond with Dad. "I'm with you. Your son seems to have the rightstuff to handle this tough situation." Turning back to Mom, I add to reassure her,"Rest assured that I will keep an eye on your boy. Thanks for coming; hope to seeyou again soon."Dad grips my hand firmly in a manly shake, as I wink at him with the assurance of the boss who is on his side. We silently acknowledge that "We will tolerate'the little lady's' overreaction." What swine we are, and we do it all on automaticmasculine pilot!As a postscript to this smarmy episode, I received a tender letter from Mrs. Y.,written that same night. Her observations and intuition about our prison situation and her son's condition were completely accurate.My husband and I visited our son at the "Stanford County Prison." Itseemed very real to me. I had not expected anything so severe nor hadmy son when he volunteered I am sure. It gave me a depressed feelingwhen I saw him. He looked very haggard, and his chief complaintseemed to be that he had not seen the sun for so long. I asked if he wassorry he volunteered and he answered that at first he had been. However, he had gone through several different moods and he was more resigned. This will be the hardest money he will ever earn in his life, I amsure.Mother of 1037.PS: We hope this project is a big success. Although I am getting ahead of our story, I should add here that her sonRich-1037, one of the original band of tough rebels, had to be released from ourprison in the next few days because he was suffering from acute stress reactionsthat were overwhelming him. His mother had sensed that change coming overhim. DISGUISED ABANDONMENT TO FOIL THE RIOTERS Once the last visitor had left, we could all breath a collective sigh of relief that therioters had not crashed into our party when we were most vulnerable. But thethreat was not over! Now it was time to swing into counterinsurgency mode. Ourplan was for some guards to dismantle the jail props, to give the appearance of disarray. Other guards would chain the prisoners' legs together, put bags over their heads, and escort them in the elevator from our basement to a rarely used, largefifth-floor storage room, safe from invasion. When the conspirators charged in toliberate the jail, I would be sitting there all alone and would tell them that the experiment was over. We had ended it early and sent everyone home, so they weretoo late to liberate anything. After they checked out the place and left, we'd bringthe prisoners back down and have time to redouble the security of our prison. Weeven thought of ways to capture 8612 and imprison him again if he was amongthe conspirators because he had been released under false pretenses.Picture this scene. I am sitting alone in a vacant corridor, formerly AKA "theYard." The remnants of the Stanford County Jail are strewn about in disorder,prison cell doors off their hinges, signs down, the front door wide open. I ampsyched to spring what we consider to be our ingenious Machiavellian counterplot. Instead of the rioters, who should appear but one of my psychologycolleagues—an old friend, a very serious scholar, and my graduate school roommate. Gordon asks what's going on here. He and his wife saw the bunch of prisoners up on the fifth floor and felt sorry for them. They went out and bought theprisoners a box of doughnuts because they all looked so miserable.I describe the research as simply and quickly as possible, all the while expecting the sudden intrusion of the invaders. This scholarly intruder then poses a simple question: "Say, what's the independent variable in your study?" I should haveanswered that it was the allocation of pretested volunteer subjects to the roles of prisoner or guard, which of course had been randomly assigned. Instead, I getangry.Here I had an incipient prison riot on my hands. The security of my men andthe stability of my prison were at stake, and I had to contend with this bleeding-heart, liberal, academic, effete professor whose only concern was a ridiculousthing like an independent variable! I thought to myself: The next thing he'd beasking was whether I had a rehabilitation program! The dummy. I adroitly dismisshim and get back to the business of waiting for the attack to unfold. I wait and wait. Finally, I realize that it is all a rumor. No substance to it at all. We had spentmany hours and expended a great deal of energy in planning to foil the rumoredattack. I had foolishly gone begging to the police for their aid; we had cleaned outa filthy storage room upstairs, dismantled our prison, and moved the prisoners upand out. More important, we had wasted valuable time. And, our biggest sin, asresearchers, is that we had not collected any systematic data the whole day. Allthis from someone who has a professional interest in rumor transmission and distortion and who regularly does class demonstrations of such phenomena. Wemortals can be fools, especially when mortal emotions rule over cool reason.We resurrected the prison props and then moved the prisoners back downfrom the hot, stuffy windowless storage room where they had been stored forthree mindless hours. What humiliation I suffered. Craig, Curt, Dave, and I could barely make eye contact for the rest of that evening. We tacitly agreed to keep it allto ourselves and not declare it "Dr. Z's Folly."We Played the Fools, but Who Will Pay the Piper?Obviously we all reacted with considerable frustration. We also suffered the tension of cognitive dissonance for so readily and firmly believing a lie and committing ourselves to much needless action without sufficient justification. 10 We hadalso experienced "groupthink." Once I, as leader, believed the rumor to be valid,everyone else accepted it as true. No one played devil's advocate, a figure thatevery group needs to avoid foolish or even disastrous decisions like this. It wasreminiscent of President John Kennedy's "disastrous" decision to invade Cuba inthe Bay of Pigs fiasco. 11 It should also have been apparent to me that we were losing the scientific detachment essential for conducting any research with unbiased objectivity. I waswell on the way to becoming a prison superintendent rather than a principal investigator. It should have been obvious that this was so from my earlier encounterwith Mrs. Y. and her husband, not to mention my tantrums with the policesergeant. However, even psychologists are people, subject to the same dynamicprocesses at a personal level that they study at a professional level.Our general sense of frustration and embarrassment spread silently acrossthe prison Yard. In retrospect, we should have just admitted our mistake andmoved on, but that is one of the hardest things that anyone can ever do. Just sayit: "I made a mistake. Sorry." Instead, we unconsciously looked for scapegoats todeflect blame from ourselves. And we did not have to look far. All around us wereprisoners who were going to pay the price for our failure and embarrassment. CHAPTER SIX Wednesday Is Spiraling Out of Control On this fourth day of the experiment, I am looking forward to a less frenetic timethan Tuesday's endless troubles had created. Our daily schedule seems filled withenough interesting events to contain the volatility that has been bursting theseams of our prison. A priest who had been a prison chaplain is coming to visitthis morning to give me a sense of how realistic our prison simulation is to provide a benchmark, the actual prison experience, against which to measure ourselves. He is reciprocating an earlier favor I did for him, providing some referencesfor a paper he was writing on prisons for a summer school course. Although hisvisit was arranged prior to the start of our study, it will do double duty by also partially satisfying the Grievance Committee's demand for church services, sort of.Afterward there will be the first Parole Board hearing for prisoners requesting tobe paroled. The Board is going to be headed by our prison consultant on this pro ject, Carlo Prescott. It will be interesting to see how he deals with this total role inversion: from a former prisoner who had repeatedly requested parole and beenrejected, to the head of a parole board.The promise of another Visiting Night after dinner should help to contain thedistress of some prisoners. I also plan to admit a replacement prisoner, in uniformnumber 416, to fill the vacancy of troublesome Doug-8612. A lot of action is ontoday's agenda, but it is all in a good day's work for the superintendent of theStanford County Jail and his staff.A PRIESTLY PUZZLEFather McDermott is a big man, about six feet, two inches tall. He is slim and trim;looks as if he does regular gym time. His receding hairline gives his face more territory to show off his big smile, finely crafted nose, and ruddy complexion. He stands straight, sits erect, and has a good sense of humor. McDermott is an IrishCatholic priest in his late forties who has had experience as a pastoral counselorin an East Coast prison. 1 With his starched collar and neatly pressed black suit, heis the movie version of the jovial yet firm parish priest. I am amazed at the fluiditywith which he slips into and out of his priestly role. Now he is the serious scholar,now the concerned priest, now someone making a professional contact, but always he returns to his leading role as "the Priest-Man."In the Superintendent's Office, we go over the long list of references withannotations that I have prepared for him to help on a report he is doing on interpersonal violence. He is obviously impressed that I'm taking so much time withhim and pleased by the reference list, so he asks, "What can I do to help you?"I respond, "All I would like is for you to talk with as many of the student sub jects in our experiment as possible in the time you have available and then, on thebasis of what they tell you and what you observe, give me your honest evaluationof how realistic their prison experience seems to you.""Sure, pleased to reciprocate. I will use as my comparison base the prisonersI worked with in a Washington, D.C., correctional facility I was assigned to forseveral years," the father tells me."Great—I very much appreciate your assistance."Now it's time for me to switch hats: "The warden has invited any inmateswho want to talk with a minister to register for that privilege. A number of themdo want to talk with you, and some want to request that religious services be heldhere this weekend. Only one prisoner, number 819, is feeling sick and wants moresleep so he won't be talking with you.""Okay, let's go, it should be interesting," says Father McDermott. The warden has set a pair of chairs against the wall between Cells 2 and 3for the priest and each inmate who comes to him. I bring over another for me tosit on next to the priest. Jaffe is at my side, looking very serious as he personally escorts each inmate from his cell to the interview. Jaffe is obviously relishing themock reality of this scenario with a real priest enacting his pastoral role with ourmock prisoners. He really gets into it. I am more concerned about the prisoners'likely complaints and what the good father is likely to do to correct them. I ask Jaffe to be sure that Curt Banks is getting this on video as close up as possible, butthe low level quality of our video camera doesn't allow close-ups as tight as Iwould like.Most interactions take the same form.The priest introduces himself, "Father McDermott, Son, and you?"The prisoner responds, "I'm 5486, sir," or "I'm 7258, father." Only a few respond with their names; the rest just give him their numbers instead of theirnames. Curiously, the priest does not flinch; I am very surprised. Socialization intothe prisoner role is clearly taking effect."What are you charged with?" "Burglary" or "armed robbery" or "breaking and entering" or "459 Codeviolation" are the usual replies.Some add, "But I am innocent" or "I was charged with .. . but did not do it,sir."The priest then says, "Good to see you, young man" or says the prisoner's firstname. He inquires about where he lives, about his family, about visitors."Why is the chain on your leg?" asks Father McDermott of one prisoner."I think it's to prevent us from moving around that freely" is the response.Some he asks about how they are being treated, how they are feeling,whether they have any complaints, and whether he can offer any assistance.Then our priest goes beyond any of my expectations with basic questions aboutthe legal aspect of their confinement.'Anybody post bond for you?" He asks one of them. Alternatively, of 4325 heseriously inquires, "How does your lawyer feel about your case?"For variety's sake, he asks others, "Have you told your family about thecharges against you?" or "Have you seen the public defender yet?"Suddenly, we are all in the "Twilight Zone." Father McDermott himself hasslipped deeply into the role of prison chaplain. Apparently, our mock prison hascreated a very realistic situation that has drawn the priest in, just as it has theprisoners and the guards and me."We weren't allowed to make a phone call, and we have not yet been broughtto trial; no trial date has even been mentioned, sir."The priest says, "Well, someone has got to take your case. I mean, you canfight it from here, but what good does it do to simply write the criminal court chief justice? It is going to be very slow to get a response. You want your family makingthis contact with a lawyer because you don't have much pull at all in your currentstate."Prisoner Rich-1037 says that he plans to "be my own lawyer, because I willbe a lawyer soon after I finish law school in a few years." The priest smiles sardonically. "It is my general observation that a lawyerwho tries his own case tends to be too emotionally involved. You know the old saying Anyone who represents himself has a fool for an attorney' "I tell 1037 that his time is up and motion to the warden to replace him withthe next prisoner.The priest is taken aback by Sarge's excessive formality and his refusal to consider getting legal counsel because "it is only fair that I serve the time I have coming for the crime I am alleged to have committed." "Are there others like him, or ishe a special case?" McDermott asks. "He's our special case, Father." It is hard tolike Sarge; even the priest treats him in a patronizing manner.Prisoner Paul-5704 slickly exploits this opportunity to bum a cigarette fromthe priest, knowing that he is not allowed to smoke. As he lights up and takes adeep puff, he gives me a shit-eating grin and a big "victory" sign—his nonverbal "Gotcha." The head of the Grievance Committee is making the most of this pleasant respite from the prison routine. I expect him next to ask for another smoke forlater. However, I notice that Guard Arnett is duly taking note of this affront andknow that he will make the prisoner pay dearly for the contraband cigarette andhis wise-aleck smirk.As the interviews proceed one after another in small talk, complaints aboutmistreatment, and violations of the rules, I am becoming ever more agitated andconfused.Only Prisoner 5486 refuses to be sucked into this scenario, namely to playacting that this is a real prison and he is a real prisoner who needs a real priest'shelp to get his freedom back. He is the only one who describes the situation as an"experiment"—one that is getting out of control. Jerry-5486 is the most levelheaded guy in the mix but the least demonstrative. I realize that he has been ashadow until now, not usually called upon by the guards on any shift for specialaction and rarely even noticeable in any count, the rebellion or disturbances sofar. I will keep my eye on him from now on.The next prisoner, by contrast, is eager to have the priest help get him legalassistance. However, he is stunned by the awareness that it costs big money."Well, suppose your attorney wanted five hundred dollars as a retainer right now.Do you have five hundred dollars on you? If not, your parents are going to have tocome up with that and more—right away."Prisoner Hubbie-7258 accepts the priest's offer of assistance and gives himhis mother's name and phone number so that she can arrange for legal help. Hesays that his cousin is in the local public defender's office and he might be available to bail him out. Father McDermott promises to follow through on this request, and Hubbie lights up as if he were Santa Claus giving him a new car.The whole production is becoming ever more weird.Before leaving, and after having talked in earnest with seven of our inmates,the priest, in best priestly fashion, asks about the one reluctant prisoner, whomight need his help. I ask Guard Arnett to encourage 819 to take a few minutesto talk with the priest; it might help him feel better. During a lull, while Prisoner 819 is being prepared for his meeting with thepastoral counselor, Father McDermott confides in me, "They are all the naive typeof prisoner. They don't know anything about prison or what a prison's for. It'stypical of the educated people that I see. These are the people you want to try tochange the prison system—tomorrow's leaders and today's voters—and they arethe ones who are going to shape community education. They just don't knowenough about what prisons are and what they can do to a person. But what youare doing here is good, it'll teach them."I take this as a vote of confidence, register his homily for the day, but am noless confused.Prisoner Stew-819 is looking terrible, to say the least: dark circles under his eyes, uncombed hair going in every direction but down. This morning, Stew-819did a bad thing: In a rage, he messed up his cell, tearing open the pillow andthrowing the feathers everywhere. He was put in the Hole and his cellmates hadto clean up the mess. He has been depressed following his parents' visit last night.One of his buddies told a guard that while his parents thought that they had hada great talk with him, he felt otherwise. They had not listened to his complaints,and they had not cared about his condition, which he had tried to explain tothem, but they had just talked on and on about some damn play they had just seen. Priest: "I wonder if you discussed the idea that your family might get a lawyerfor you."819: "They knew I was a prisoner. I told them what I was doing here, aboutthe numbers, the regulations, the hassles."Priest: "How do you feel now?"819: "I have a bad headache; I need a doctor."I intervene, trying to discover the basis of his headache. I ask him whether itwas a typical migraine; or maybe had been caused by exhaustion, hunger, heat,stress, constipation, or vision problems.819: "I just feel kind of drained. Nervous."Then he breaks down and starts to cry. Big tears, big heaving sighs. The priestcalmly gives him his handkerchief to wipe the tears away."Now there, it can't be all that bad. How long have you been in this place?""Only three days!""You're going to have to be less emotional." I try to comfort 819, arranging for him to take a time-out in the restroom off the Yard, actually behind the partition where we are doing our tape recording. Itell him that he can rest comfortably and I will get him some good food. Then we'llsee if the headache goes away by this afternoon. If not, I will take him to StudentHealth for a checkup. I end by getting him to promise not to try to escape, becauseI am taking him to a minimum-security area. I ask him whether he is really feeling so bad that he should be released now. He insists that he wants to continueand agrees not to try any funny business.Priest to 819: "Maybe you are responding to the smell of this place. The airhere is oppressive. There's an unpleasant smell, it takes time to get used to it. Nevertheless, it's there, it has sort of a toxic quality, maybe that's too strong, but thestench brings home the reality of prison. [McDermott is smelling the urine andfeces odor now clinging to our prison, to which we are habituated and don't notice until it is called to our attention.] You have to get your balance, plenty of prisoners learn to handle it."As we walk off the Yard, down the hall to my office, the priest tells me that thestudy is working like a real prison and specifically that he is seeing the typical"first-offender syndrome"—one filled with confusion, irritability, rage, depression, and overemotionalization. He assures me that such reactions change after a week or so because it does not aid a prisoner's survival to be so effeminate. Headds that he thinks this situation is more real for 819 than the boy is willing toadmit. We agree that he needs counseling. I note that although 819's lips weretrembling, hands shaking, and eyes tearing, he still could not admit that he cannot make it here, that he wants out. I think that he cannot accept the idea that heis chickening out, that his masculinity might be threatened, so he wants us—wants me —to insist that he leave as a way of saving face. "Maybe so. That is an interesting possibility," Father McDermott adds, reflecting on all that has justtranspired.While I bid him adieu, I add in passing that the good father is not really goingto call the parents, right? "Of course I am, I must. It is my duty.""Sure, how stupid of me, your duty, that's right." (Just what I need is parentsand lawyers to deal with because a priest made a promise he is obligated to keepin his role as a real priest even though he knows this is not a real prison and theyare not real prisoners, but what the hell, the play must go on.)The priest's visit highlights the growing confusion here between reality andillusion, between role-playing and self-determined identity. He is a real priest inthe real world with personal experience in real prisons, and although he is fullyaware that ours is a mock prison, he so fully and deeply enacts his assumed rolethat he helps to transform our show into reality. He sits erect, holds his hands in aparticular way, gestures just so, leans forward to give personal advice, nods knowingly, pats shoulders, scowls at prisoners' foolishness, and talks in tones and cadences that take me back to my childhood in Sunday school at Saint Anselm'sCatholic Church. He could not present a more perfect image of a priest had hebeen sent from Central Casting. While he was doing his priestly thing, it was asthough we were on a bizarre movie set, and I admired how well this actor performed his role. If anything, the priestly visit further transformed our simulatedexperiment into an ever-more-realistic prison. This was especially so for thoseprisoners who had been able to sustain the realization that this is all "just an experiment." The priest has made his message a new medium. Is our scenario nowin the hands of Franz Kafka or Luigi Pirandello?Just then, an eruption booms from the Yard. The prisoners are shouting.They are chanting loudly something about Prisoner 819.Arnett: "Prisoner 819 did a bad thing. Say it ten times, loudly."Prisoners: "Prisoner 819 did a bad thing" (Over and over many times.)Arnett: "What is happening to Prisoner 819 for doing the bad thing he did,Prisoner 3401?"3401: "Prisoner 819 is being punished."Arnett: "What is happening to Prisoner 819, 1037?"1037: "I'm not sure, Mr. Correctional Officer."Arnett: "He's being punished. From the top, 3401."3401 repeats the mantra, as 1037 adds even louder, "Prisoner 819 is beingpunished, Mr. Correctional Officer." 1037 and each of the other prisoners is asked the same question in turn, andeach responds identically, individually and then collectively.Arnett: "Let's hear it five times to make sure you remember it. Because of thebad things that Prisoner 819 did, your cells are a mess. Let's hear it ten times.""Because of what Prisoner 819 did, my cell is a mess."The prisoners chant the phrase repeatedly, but 1037, the one who plans to bea lawyer, is no longer joining in. Guard John Landry gestures menacingly at himwith his billy club to get with the program. Arnett stops the chant to ask what iswrong; Landry informs him of 1037's disobedience.Prisoner 1037 challenges Arnett: "I have a question, Mr. Correctional Officer. Are we supposed to never tell lies?"Arnett, in his most formal, unflustered, totally authentic style, replies,"We're not interested in your questions now. The task has been assigned, nowlet's hear it. 'Because of what Prisoner 819 did, my cell is a mess' ten times."Prisoners chant the phrase but lose track and do so eleven times.Arnett: "How many times were you told to do that, Prisoner 3401?"3401: "Ten times."Arnett: "How many times did you do it, Mr. 3401."?3401: "Ten times, Mr. Correctional Officer"Arnett: "Wrong, you all did it eleven times. Do it over again, do it properly, doit ten times, as I have commanded you to do: 'Because of what Prisoner 819 did, mycell is a mess'—ten times."They shout it out in precision exactly ten more times.Arnett: "Everyone assume the position."Without a moment's hesitation, everyone falls to the ground for push-ups."Down, up, down, up. 5486, these aren't belly rolls, they are push-ups, keep thatback straight. Down, up, down, up, down, and stay down. Roll over on your backsfor leg lifts." Arnett: "Six inches is the important feature of this, men. Everybody goes sixinches, and everybody's leg will stay there until everybody's leg is six inches."Guard J. Landry measures to determine whether each prisoner's legs arelifted exactly six inches above the ground.Arnett: "All together, ten times, 'I will not make the mistake that 819 did, Mr.Correctional Officer.' "Arnett: "Now at the absolute top of your lungs, 'I will not make any mistakes,Mr. Correctional Officer!' "They all obey in perfect unison. Prisoner 1037 refuses to shout but goesalong with the chanting nevertheless, while Sarge is delighting in the chance toshout out his obedience to this authority. Then all sing out very politely in response to the officer's final command: "Thank you very much for this nice count,Mr. Correctional Officer."The precise unison of the prisoners would be the envy of any choirmaster or Hitler Youth rally leader, I think to myself. Moreover, how far have they—or we—come since Sunday's giggling counts and the playful antics of the new prisoners?YOU'RE NOT 819: IT'S TIME TO GO HOME, STEWARTWhen I realize that 819 might be hearing all of this in the R&R Room on the otherside of thin partition, I rush to check on him. What I find is 819 hunched overinto a quivering mass, hysterical. I put my arms around him trying to comforthim, assuring him that he will be all right once he has left and gone home. To mysurprise, he refuses to leave with me to see a doctor and then go home. "No, I can'tleave. I have to go back in there," he insists through his tears. He can't leaveknowing that the other prisoners have labeled him a "bad prisoner," that messingup his cell has made all this harassment come down upon them. Even though heis clearly distressed, he is willing to go back into that prison to prove that he is notreally a bad guy."Listen carefully to me, now, you're not 819. You are Stewart, and my nameis Dr. Zimbardo. I am a psychologist, not a prison superintendent, and this is not areal prison. This is just an experiment, and those guys in there are just students,like you. So it's time to go home, Stewart. Come with me now. Let's go."He stops sobbing, wipes away the tears, straightens up, and looks into myeyes. He looks like a small child awakening from a nightmare, assured by his parent that it is not a real monster and that everything will be fine once he fully accepts that truth. "Ok, Stew, let's go." (I have broken through his illusion, but mineis still clinging on.) On the way to getting his civilian clothes and mustering Stew out of service,I recall that his day started out with a lot of trouble that set the stage for this emotional breakdown.819 Messes Up Early OnThe Warden's Log reports that 819 refused to get up at the 6:10 A.M. wake-up. Hewas put in the Hole and later given only half the time in the bathroom that theothers got. All, including 819, were present for the fifteen-minute number countat 7:30, reciting it forward and in reverse repeatedly. However, during the exerciseperiod, 819 refused. A guard came up with the social punishment of forcing theother prisoners to stand with their arms outstretched until 819 yielded.819 would not yield, and the other prisoners' strength gave out as their armsdropped to their sides. 819 was put back in the Hole, where he ate his breakfast inthe dark but refused to eat his egg. He was released for work duty to clean out thetoilets with his bare hands and move boxes back and forth endlessly and mindlessly along with all the prisoners. When he returned to his cell, 819 locked himself in. He refused to clean off the stickers from a blanket thrown into his cell. Hiscellmates, 4325 and the replacement, 8612, were forced to do extra work until hecomplied. They moved boxes back and forth from one closet to the other. He didnot relent but demanded to see a doctor. They were getting angry at his obsti-nence, for which they were suffering.Ceros's Guard Shift Report notes, "A prisoner locked himself in his cell. Wegot our clubs and proceeded to get him out. He wouldn't come out. We madeeveryone stand up against the wall with their arms straight out. He lay back in hiscell and laughed. I didn't think he would do it. We gave up. The rest of the prisoners hated us. I just smiled and did my job." Guard Varnish in his report notes the psychological importance of this prisoner's behavior: "819's apparent indifference to the troubles of his fellow inmatesupsets them." Varnish goes on to complain in his report about the lack of clearguidelines for what he could do to the prisoners. "I felt I was uncertain as to theamount of force we could in fact use, and this bothered me as I felt the limits onthis case were not clearly defined." 2 Vandy reports a different reaction: "I continued to become more involvedthan on the preceding day. I enjoyed harassing the prisoners at 2:30 A.M. It pleasedmy sadistic senses to cause bitterness between us." That is a rather remarkablestatement, one that I am sure he would never have made four days earlier.Stern Guard Arnett adds in his report: "The only time I felt I could not properlyplay my role was with 819 and 1037, when they were in such obvious difficulty onsome occasions. At these times, I was not as tough as I should have been." 3 "Basically the really oppressive thing about the prison experience is being totally at the mercy of other people who are trying to make things as difficult andunenjoyable for you as possible," Stew-819 later told me. "I simply can't stand being abused by other people. I developed a strong resentment of the fascistguards and a strong liking for the compassionate ones. I was pleased with the rebelliousness of some prisoners and angered at the complacency and total obedience of others. My sense of time was also affected, since each day's torturousmoment seemed quite a bit longer than it would have been if one were enjoyingoneself. The worst thing about this experience was the total depression that set infrom being constantly hassled and the fact that there was no way of getting out.The best thing was finally being set free." 4 Betrayal by Our Very Own SpyRecall that David, who took over 8612's uniform, was brought into the prison asour spy. Unfortunately, for us, he was not providing any useful information because he had become sympathetic to the prisoners' cause and had transferred hisallegiance to them in almost a heartbeat. I released him that morning in order todebrief him and get his assessment of what was going on. In his interview withthe warden and me, our failed informer made clear his disdain for the guards andhis frustration at not being able to mobilize the prisoners to disobey orders. Hesaid that that morning, one guard had told him to fill the coffeepot with hot waterin the bathroom but then another guard had dumped it out and made him fill itwith cold water, admonishing him for disobeying orders. He hated this "chicken-shit" hazing. He also told us of the time distortion that expanded and contractedevents and had confused him when he was awakened several times during thenight for interminable counts. He reported a mental dullness like a fog surrounding everything. "The arbitrariness and idiot work by the guards grates on you." In his newrole as informer-turned-prisoner-revolutionary, he told us of his plan to energizehis mates for action. "Today, I decided to be a shitty prisoner. I wanted to get somesort of spirit of resistance going among the prisoners. The punishment of makingothers do more if any prisoner refuses to work or to come out of his cell worksonly if the others are willing to do more. I tried to make them resist. But everyonewas willing to do what they were told, even to the humiliating task of transferringthe contents of one closet to the other and back again, or cleaning the toilet bowlswith our bare hands."David reported that nobody is angry with me or the warden, who is mostly just a crackling voice over the loudspeaker, but he and the others are pissed at theguards. He told one of them this morning, "Mr. Correctional Officer, do you think that when this job ends you're going to have enough time to become a humanbeing again?" For which of course he got Hole time.He was upset that he failed in this attempt to get the other prisoners to refuseto keep their arms lifted in collective punishment for 819's mess-up. Their armsdropped down eventually, but from fatigue, not disobedience. David's frustrationsat not being an effective labor organizer are evident in his report to us: Communication lines are severely limited when everybody's screaming soloudly, you can't stop it. But during silent periods I try to talk with my cellmates, but 819 is always in the Hole, and the other guy, 4325 [Jim] is adrag and not much to talk to. And you know at meals, when it would be agood time to talk to all the guys about not giving in so easily to the guards,you can't talk. It's kind of like the energy stays within you and doesn'treally ever get organized into action. I got depressed when one guy tellsme, "I want to get paroled. Don't bug me. If you want to stick out yourneck, that's cool, but I'm not gonna!" 5 David did not give us "actionable intelligence," such as about escape plans orwhere the keys to the handcuffs were hidden. His personal reflections did, however, make evident that a powerful force was operating on the minds of the prisoners to suppress group action against their oppression. They had begun to focusinward to selfishly consider what they had to do singly to survive and maybe scorean early parole. WELCOME THE NEW PRISONER ON THE BLOCK To replenish our depleted rank of prisoners, we admit a replacement, new prisoner number 416. This latecomer will soon play a remarkable role. We see himfirst on the video in the corner of the Yard. He has come into the prison wearing ashopping bag over his head; he is carefully stripped naked by Guard Arnett. He isreally skinny, "all skin and bones," as my mother used to say: you could counteach of his rib bones from a distance of ten feet. He is a rather pathetic sight, andhe has not yet begun to realize what is in store for him. Arnett sprays 416 slowly and systematically all over his body with the alleged delousing powder. On Day 1, this task was rushed because the guards had toprocess so many incoming prisoners. Now, given ample time, Arnett turns it intoa special cleansing ritual. He pulls the number 416 smock over his head, chainshis ankle, and tops him off with a new stocking cap. Voila! The new prisoner isready for action. Unlike the others, who were gradually acclimated to the daily escalations of arbitrary and hostile guard behavior, 416 is being thrust into thiscrucible of madness headfirst with no time for adjustment.I was stunned by the arrest procedure. As a standby, I was never booked bythe police, as the others had been. Called by a secretary to get my papersand report to the lobby of the Psychology Department before noon. I wasreally pleased to get the job, glad I had gotten a chance to do it. [Remember, these volunteers were being paid for two weeks on the job.] As I waswaiting, a guard came out and after I told him my name, he immediatelyhandcuffed me, put a paper bag over my head, brought me down a flight of stairs and I had to stand for a while with my hands on the wall, spread eagled. I had no idea what was going on. I think that I accepted being miserable, but it was much worse than I had expected. I didn't expect to come inand right off be stripped and deloused and struck on my legs with a baton.I decided that I would stay as mentally removed from the guards as I couldwhile watching the other prisoners playing these social games. I said tomyself, that I will do my best to keep out of that, but as time went on, I forgot my reasons for being here. I'd come in with reasons, like it'll make memoney. Suddenly, 416 has been transformed into a prisoner—and onewho is extremely dazed and upset. 6 "Amazing Grace": In the Key of IronyThe new prisoner arrives just in time to hear Arnett dictating a letter that the prisoners must send to their prospective visitors for the next Visiting Night. As theguard reads out the text, they write it out on the prison stationery provided. Thenhe asks each of them to repeat parts of it aloud. One formula letter as dictated says:Dear Mother,I've been having a marvelous time. The food is great and there's alwayslots of fun and games. The officers have treated me very well. They are allswell guys. You would like them, Mother. No need to visit, it's seventhheaven. And put the name there that your mother gave you, whateverthat may be.Yours truly,Your Loving Son Guard Markus collects them all for later mailing—after, of course, firstscreening them for forbidden information or incendiary complaints. The prisoners put up with such nonsense because visits have become so important tothem—after a relative few days without seeing family and friends. That link to theother world needs to be maintained as an assurance that this basement world isnot all there is.New trouble starts to percolate around a problem with the door lock in Cell 1.5704, the wise guy who shamelessly bummed a cigarette from the priest earliertoday, keeps opening the door to show that he is free to go in and out at any time.In silky smooth style, Guard Arnett gets a rope and ties it around the bars andacross the wall to connect it to Cell 2. He does so methodically, as if it were for aBoy Scout merit badge for knot tying. He whistles the "Blue Danube Waltz" as herings the rope around the bars of one cell and back to the other cell to preventeither from being opened from inside. Arnett whistles well. John Landry comesinto view, using his billy club to twist the rope taut. The two guards smile approvingly at each other for a job well done. Now no one can go in to or out of those twocells until the guards have figured out how to fix that defective lock, which 5 704probably broke."No cigarettes for you, 5704, as long as the cell door is blockaded. You'regoing to be in solitary when you get out."Rich-1037 yells out threateningly from Cell 2, "I have a weapon!"Arnett challenges him: "You don't have a weapon. We can get that cell openanytime we want."Someone calls out, "He has a needle!""That's not a very good thing for him to have. We will have to confiscate itand duly punish him." Landry pounds his club hard on the doors of all the cellsto remind them of who is in charge. Arnett adds his slam on the bars of Cell 2, almost smashing the hands of one of the prisoners, who pulls back just in time.Then, as in the rebellion in the morning of Day 2, John Landry begins to spray thefire extinguisher with its skin-chilling carbon dioxide exhaust into Cell 2. Landryand Markus push their clubs into the cell bars to keep the inmates away from thebarred opening, but a prisoner in Cell 2 steals one of their clubs away. They allstart mocking the guards. New bedlam is about to break out now that the prisoners have a weapon.Arnett maintains his cool demeanor, and, after some discussion, the guardsarrange to take a lock from a vacant office and install it on Cell 1. "Actually, men,it's a one-way street in the last analysis, it's just a matter of how long it takes," hetells them patiently.Eventually the guards triumph again; forcing their way into both cells andhauling big bad boy 5704 back into solitary. This time they are taking nochances. They tie him up hands and feet, using their cord taken off the cell doors,before dumping him into the Hole. This uprising forfeits the privilege of lunch for all the prisoners. Too bad for416, the new guy. He has had only a cup of coffee and a cookie for breakfast. Heis hungry and has done nothing but look on in amazement as these bizarre eventsunfold around him. Would be nice to eat something warm, he thinks. Instead of lunch, the prisoners are all lined up against the wall. Paul-5704 is hauled out of solitary but remains bound up and helpless lying on the floor of the Yard. He is ondisplay as a lesson against further thoughts of rebellion.Guard Markus orders everyone to sing while doing jumping jacks, to the tuneof "Row, Row, Row Your Boat.""Since you guys are in such good voice, we're going to sing Amazing Grace,' "Arnett tells them. "We're just going to do one verse, I'm not going to strain God'scredulity." As the rest of the prisoners assume the position on the floor for pushups, 416 is singled out for his first public notice: "Here you go. You better memorize this, 416. Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound, to save a wretch like me, Ionce was blind, but now I see, in the first hour since God, I'm free.' " Arnett resists the correction about "in the first hour since God" that Paul-5704 offers him from the floor. "That's the way you're going to do it. That linemight not be exactly it, but that's the way you're going to do it." Then he inexplicably changes the last line to "since the first hour I've seen God, I'm free."Arnett, who obviously knows he is a good whistler, then whistles 'AmazingGrace" once through, and whistles it all again in perfect tune. Prisoners applaudhim in a nice, spontaneous gesture of appreciation for his talent, despite despisinghim for his attitude and assorted cruelty against them. As Guards Landry andMarkus lounge back on the table, the prisoners sing the song, but clearly they areout of key and out of unison. Arnett is upset: "Did we scrape these people up fromthe Sixth Street ghetto in San Francisco, or something? Let's hear it again." Troublemaker 5704 makes another attempt to correct the inaccurate wording, butArnett uses the opportunity to make his point loud and clear: "Of course there isa discrepancy here; you're to do the prison version of Amazing Grace.' It does notmatter if it's wrong, because the guards are always right. 416, you stand up,everybody else in the push-up position. 416, while they do push-ups, you singAmazing Grace,' as I have dictated it."Only a few hours after being imprisoned, 416 is moved to center stage by Arnett, who isolates him from the other prisoners and forces him to perform a mindless task. The video captures this saddest of moments as the scrawny newprisoner sings in a high-pitched voice this song of spiritual freedom. His slackenedshoulders and downward glance make evident his extreme discomfort, whichworsens when he is corrected and has to repeat the song while the others areforced to keep pushing up and down and up and ... the irony of being ordered tosing a song of freedom in this oppressive atmosphere where his song provides thecadence for mindless push-ups is not lost on 416. He vows not to be crushed byArnett or any other guard.It is not clear why Arnett has singled him out this way. Maybe it's just a tactic to get him into the pressure cooker faster. Alternatively, maybe there is something about 416's shabby and scrawny appearance that is offensive to a guardwho tends to be meticulous and always well turned out. "Now that you are in a singing mood, 416 will sing 'Row, Row, Row YourBoat' while everyone is on their back with legs up in the air. I want it loud enoughso that 5704's loved one, Richard Nixon, can hear it, wherever the fuck he is. Legsup. Up! Up! Let's hear it a few more times, especially emphasizing that last line,'Life is but a dream."Prisoner Hubbie-7258, still hanging on to the ironic moment, asks if theycan sing "Prison life is but a dream." The prisoners are literally screaming thesong at this point, their chests heaving with each word. Life here is ever stranger.Return of the TV CameramanSometime this afternoon we had a visit from the TV cameraman from local SanFrancisco station KRON. He was sent down to do a brief follow-up on his Sundayshoot, which had sparked some interest at the station. I restricted him to shooting from behind our observation window and to talking only with the warden and meabout the progress of the study. I did not want to have external interference upsetting the dynamic that was emerging between the prisoners and the guards. Iwasn't able to see the TV coverage he made that night, because we were all enmeshed in too many more urgent matters that took our full attention—and thensome. 7 FAREWELL, DAY SHIFT, GOOD EVENING, NIGHT SHIFT "Time to get ready for Sunday services," Arnett tells the prisoners, even though itis only Wednesday. "Everyone get in a circle and hold hands, like a religious ceremony. Say, 'Hi, 416, I'm your buddy, 5704.' Then each of you welcome your newcomrade."They continue these greetings around the circle in what amounts to a verytender ceremony. I am surprised that Arnett thought to include this sensitivecommunal activity. But then he goes and spoils it by having everyone skip aroundin a circle singing "Ring Around the Rosy," with 416 standing alone in the centerof the sorry circle.Before leaving for the day, Arnett throws in one more count, in which JohnLandry takes over dictating how it will be sung. It is 416's first count, and heshakes his head in disbelief at how the others follow every command in hauntingunison. Arnett continues his dehumanizing treatment until the very last minuteof his shift time."I've had enough of this, go back to your cage. Clean up your cells so whenvisitors come, they won't be nauseated by the sight of it." He leaves whistlingAmazing Grace.' As a parting shot, he adds, "See ya, folks. See ya tomorrow, myfans." Landry adds his two cents: "I want you to thank your correctional officers forthe time they spent with you today." They give a reluctant "Thank you, Mr. Correctional Officers." John Landry is not buying that "shitty thank-you" and makesthem shout it louder as he strides off the Yard along with Markus and Arnett. Asthey exit stage right, in comes the night shift, featuring John Wayne and his eager crew. The new prisoner, 416, later told us about his fear of the guards:I was terrified by each new shift of guards. I knew by the first evening thatI had done something foolish to volunteer for this study. My first prioritywas to get out as soon as possible. That is what you did in prison if you hadthe vaguest possibility of it. And this was a real prison, run by psychologists and not by the State. I met this challenge by going on a hunger strike,to refuse to eat anything, to get sick and they would have to release 416.That is the plan that I stuck to no matter what the consequences. At dinner, although he was now very hungry, 416 followed his plan to refuseto eat anything.Hellmann: "Hey guys, we got nice hot sausages for your dinner tonight."416 (glibly): "Not for me, sir, I refuse to eat any food you give me."Hellmann: "That is a rule violation, for which you will be punished accordingly."416: "It does not matter, I will not eat your sausages."As punishment, Hellmann puts 416 into the Hole, for his first of many visitsthere, and Burdan insists that he hold each of the sausages in his hands. After theothers finish dinner, 416 has to sit and stare at his food, a plate of two coldsausages. This unexpected act of rebellion infuriates the night shift guards and especially Hellmann, who had thought that tonight everything was under strictcontrol and would be flowing smoothly after last night's problems were resolved.Now this "pain in the ass" is making trouble and might incite the others to rebel, just when it seemed as if they were totally dominated and submissive.Hellmann: "You don't want to eat two stinking sausages? You want me totake those sausages and cram them up your ass? Is that what you want? Do youwant me to take that and cram that up your ass?"416 remains stoic, staring down expressionless at the plate of sausages.Hellmann realizes that it is time to put the divide-and-conquer tactic into operation: "Now, listen here, 416, if you do not eat your sausages, that is an act of prisoner insubordination that will result in all prisoners being deprived of visitorstonight. Hear that?""I am sorry to hear that. My personal actions should have no consequencesfor the others," 416 replies in an imperious manner."They are not personal but prisoner reactions, and I will determine the consequences!" shouts Hellmann.Burdan brings out Hubbie-7258 to persuade 416 to eat his sausages. 7258says, "Just eat your sausages, okay?" Burdan adds, "Tell him why." 7258 continues, pleading that the prisoners won't get visiting hours if he doesn't eat thesausages. "Don't you care about that? Just 'cause you don't got no friends. . . . Eat forthe prisoners, not for the guards, okay?" Burdan throws in this uppercut, pitting416 against the other prisoners.Prisoner Hubbie-7258 continues talking to 416, gently trying to get him toeat the sausages because his girlfriend, Mary Ann, is about to visit him soon, andhe would hate to be denied that privilege because of a few lousy sausages. Burdancontinues to assume more of Hellmann's demeanor in his domineering style andsubstance:"416, what's your problem? Answer me, boy! Yeah, what's your problem?"416 begins to explain that he is on a hunger strike to protest the abusivetreatment and contract violations. "What the hell has that got to do with the sausages? Well, what?" Burdan isfurious and slams his club down on the table with such a resounding thud that itechoes around the Yard walls in menacing reverberations."Answer my question, why don't you eat those sausages?"In a barely audible voice, 416 continues to make a Gandhi nonviolent proteststatement. Burdan never heard of Mahatma Gandhi and insists on a better reason. "You tell me the connection between those two things, I don't see it." Then416 breaks the illusion, reminding those within earshot that the guards are violating the contract he signed when he volunteered for this experiment. (I amstunned that this reminder is ignored by them all. The guards are now totally absorbed in their illusory prison.)"I don't give a damn about any contract!" Burdan yells. "You're in here because you deserve it, 416. That's how you got in here in the first place, you brokethe law. This ain't no nursery school. I still don't understand why you don't eatthose damn sausages. Did you expect this to be a nursery school, 416? Do you expect to go around breaking the law and wind up in a nursery school?" Burdanrants on about 416 not going to be a happy boy when his cellmate has to sleepwithout a bed on the floor tonight. However, just as it seems that Burdan is aboutto take a swing at 416, he turns away in a fury. Instead, he slaps his club into thepalm of his hand and orders 416, "Get back into that Hole." 416 now knows theway.Burdan bangs his fists against the door of the Hole, making a deafeningsound that reverberates inside that dark closet. "Now each of you also thank 416for his denying your visitors by banging on the Hole and saying 'Thank you.' "Each prisoner does so, banging on the closet door "with relish," except for5486, Jerry, who does so unwillingly. Hubbie-7258 is extremely angry by this unexpected twist of his fate. To underscore the point, Hellmann pulls 416 out of the Hole, still grippingthe two sausages. He then runs another tormenting count singlehandedly, noteven giving Burdan a chance to participate. Good Guard Landry is nowhere in sight. Here is Hellmann's chance to break any possibility of prisoner solidarity andto defuse 416's potential emergence as a rebellious hero. "Now you all are goingto suffer because this prisoner refuses to do a simple thing like eat his dinner, forno good reason. It would be different if he was a vegetarian. Tell him to his facewhat you think about him." Some say, "Don't be so stupid"; others accuse him of being childish.That was not good enough for "John Wayne": "Tell him that he is a 'pussy' "A few of them obey, but not Sarge. As a matter of principle, Sarge refuses touse any obscenity. Now, with two of them defying Hellmann at the same time,Hellman turns his wrath against Sarge, harassing him mercilessly, yelling at himthat he is an "asshole" and, worse, insisting that he call 416 a "bastard." The harsh count continues unabated for an hour, stopping only when visitors are at the door. I come on the Yard and make it clear to the guards that visiting hours must be honored. They are not pleased with this intrusion into theirpower domain but reluctantly acquiesce. There is always the post-visitor time forthem to continue breaking down prisoner resistance.Obedient Prisoners Get VisitorsTwo of the more obedient prisoners, Hubbie-7258 and Sarge-2093, who havefriends or relatives in the vicinity, are allowed to have them visit for a short timethis evening. 7258 is deliriously happy when his pretty girlfriend arrives to seehim. She is giving him news about their other friends, and he is listening intently,holding his head in his two hands. All the while, Burdan is sitting above them onthe table, routinely banging his small white billy club. (We had to return the bigdark ones we had borrowed from the local police department). Burdan is obviously taken with her beauty and breaks into their conversation frequently withquestions and comments.Hubbie tells Mary Ann that it is important to "Try to keep yourself up, it's notthat bad in here if you just cooperate."Girlfriend: "Are you cooperating?"7258 (laughing): "Yes, they are making me."Burdan intrudes: "Well, they had a little escape attempt."Girlfriend: "I heard about that."7258: "I didn't enjoy the rest of this day at all. We do not have anything; nobed, no nothing." He tells her about having to clean out stickers from dirty blankets and other nasty chores. Nevertheless, he remains upbeat and smiles andholds her hand for the full ten-minute visit. Burdan escorts her out as the prisonerreturns to his lonely cell.The other prisoner granted a visitor is Sarge, whose father comes by. Sarge isbragging about his total command of the rules. "There are seventeen rules ... Ihave the rules memorized. The most basic rule is that you obey the guards." Dad: "Can they tell you to do anything?" Sarge: "Yes. Well, almost anything."Dad: "And what right do they have to do that?" He rubs his forehead in seeming distress at his son's plight. He is the second visitor to be clearly upset. He ismuch like the mother of Prisoner Rich-1037—who was right to be concerned,given that he broke down the next day. Nevertheless, Sarge appears to be made of sterner stuff. Sarge: "They're in charge of the running of the prison."Dad asks about civil rights, and then Burdan jumps in—very harshly: "Hehas no civil rights."Dad: "Well, I think that they do, maybe ..." (We can't hear clearly his argument to Burdan, who is not afraid of this civilian.) Burdan: "People in prison have no civil rights."Dad (exasperated): "Anyway, how long do we have to talk here?""Only ten minutes," Burdan replies.The father disputes the amount of time left. Burdan relents and gives themfive more minutes. Dad would like more privacy. That is not permitted for visitorsin this prison, replies Burdan. Dad gets even more upset, but remarkably, he toogoes by the rules and accepts this infringement on his rights by a kid playactingbeing a guard!Dad asks more about the rules, Sarge talks about counts, "exercising,"chores, and lights-out.Dad: "Is this what you expected it to be?"Sarge: "I expected it to be worse."In disbelief, Dad exclaims: "Worse? Why worse?"Burdan interjects himself again. The father is now clearly annoyed by his unwanted presence. The guard tells him that there were originally nine prisonersbut now there are only five. The father asks why.Sarge: "Two have been paroled and two are in maximum security." 9 Dad: "Maximum security where?"He doesn't really know. Dad asks why they are in maximum security.Sarge: "They were disciplinary problems. Very dispositional." Burdan responds at the same time: "Because they were bad."Dad: "Do you feel like you're in a prison?"Sarge (laughing, sidesteps a direct answer): "Well, I've never been in a prison before." (Dad laughs.)They are alone when Burdan runs off in response to a loud noise outside.While he is gone, they talk about Sarge's coming up for parole, which he issure he will get because he has been the most obedient prisoner to date. However,he still has a major concern: "I don't know what the criteria are for getting out onparole." "Time's up," Geoff Landry announces. Father and son stand up, about tohug, but settle instead for a firm, manly handshake and a "See you soon."Homophobia Rears Its Ugly HeadWhen I return from a quick dinner at the student cafeteria, I see troublemaker5 704 standing in the center of the Yard holding a chair on his head. A chair onhis head! Hellmann is yelling at Sarge, and Burdan is chiming in. Good PrisonerJerry-5486, who has been almost anonymous, is standing passively against thewall, while 7258 does push-ups. Apparently, 416 is back in solitary. Hellmannasks 5 704 why he has that chair on his head—it was he who ordered him to wearit like a hat. The prisoner answers meekly that he is simply following orders. Helooks dejected; all of the old spunk seems to have drained away from 5704. Burdan tells him not to look so stupid and to put the chair away. Then Burdan bangson the Hole door with his club. "You having a good time in there, 416?" It is time for Hellmann to take over as director of tonight's drama. He literallymoves Burdan aside. (No sight of Good Guard Geoff Landry on the Yard followingthe visits.)"While you got your hands in the air, 7258, why don't you play Frankenstein. 2093, you can be the Bride of Frankenstein, you stand right here.""You go over there," he says to Sarge.Sarge asks whether he should act it out."Of course you should act it out. You be the Bride of Frankenstein, 72 58, yoube Frankenstein. I want you to walk over here like Frankenstein walks, and saythat you love 2093."As 7258 starts to walk toward his bride, Burdan stops him in his tracks."That ain't no Frankenstein walk. We didn't ask you to walk like you." Hellmann grabs Hubbie-7258 by the arm very aggressively, pulls him back,and makes him walk the proper Frankenstein walk.7258: "I love you, 2093.""Get up close! Get up close!" Shouts Burdan.7258 is now inches away from Sarge. "I love you, 2093."Hellmann pushes them together, his hands on each of their backs until theirbodies are touching.Again, Hubbie-Frankenstein-7258 says, "I love you, 2093." Hellmann berates Sarge for smiling. "Did I tell you that you could smile? This is not funny. Youget down and do ten push-ups!"With Prisoner 7258's arms still stretched out in front of him, back to thewall, his smock lifts, revealing part of his genitals. Sarge is told to tell the otherprisoner, Jerry-5486, that he loves him; he complies reluctantly."Well, ain't that sweet? Ain't that sweet?" mocks Burdan.Hellmann now gets up in the face of 5486."Are you smiling? Maybe you love him too. Would you go over there and tellhim so?" Jerry-5486 does so without hesitation but says quietly, "2093, I love you." Hellmann is careening wildly from prisoner to prisoner with his verbal attacks."Put your arms down, 7258. That's why you stink so much.""Now all of you stinking prisoners get down on the floor, you're gonna playleapfrog."They start to play the game but are having difficulty because their showerclogs are falling off and their smocks are creeping up to expose their genitals asthey jump over the bent bodies of their fellows. They can't do it right, and Burdanseems a bit uncomfortable with this game. Perhaps he finds the action too sexualor too gay for his tastes. Hellmann simplifies the game, directing only 2093 and5704 to play together. They continue to try to leapfrog, as Burdan emits littlegroans.The homoerotic game is having a perverse impact on Hellmann. "That's the way dogs do it, isn't it? Isn't that the way dogs do it? He's all ready,ain't he, standing behind you, doggy style? Why don't you make like a dog?"When tall Prisoner Paul-5704 had brought up complaints of guards hassling prisoners, I'll bet that the head of the Stanford County Jail Prisoners' Grievance Committee never imagined that the guards' insulting abuse would everdescend to this level. He is clearly upset, and he tells John Wayne that what he hasbeen asked to do would be "a little obscene."Hellmann takes that remark as a slap in the face: "I think your face is a littleobscene too. Why don't you just play leapfrog and shut up."Geoff Landry drifts onto the scene, standing directly behind 5704 andwatching everything. He is obviously interested in this turn of events, but hekeeps his hands in his pockets to maintain his neutrality and pose of indifference.He is not wearing his anonymity-enhancing sunglasses, even though the wardentold him to do so."I'm sorry to offend the better nature of this sensitive prisoner," Hellmannsays with derision.Burdan succeeds in ending this game, which he has found distasteful fromthe beginning, "I'm tired of this game, this is ridiculous." They revert to theirmore traditional game, the count.SARGE REVEALS A NEW MORAL IDENTITYHellmann is bored. He walks up and down the line of weary prisoners. Suddenlyhe whirls around and turns his wrath on Sarge: "Why are you such a ass-licker?""I don't know, sir.""Why is it you try to be obedient so much?"Sarge is not afraid of him and plays the game: "It's in my nature to be obedient, Mr. Correctional Officer.""You are a liar. You are a stinkin' liar." "If you say so, Mr. Correctional Officer."Hellmann becomes ever more obscene, maybe aroused by the previous sexualgames: "What if I told you to get down on that floor and fuck the floor, what wouldyou do then?""I would tell you I didn't know how, Mr. Correctional Officer.""What if I told you to come over here and hit your friend 5704 in the face ashard as you could?"Sarge holds his ground: "I am afraid I would be unable to do that, Mr. Correctional Officer."Hellmann scoffs and turns away, only to spin about and turn on a new victim. As he opens the door to the Hole, Hellmann, like a carnival pitchman, shouts,"I got something right here for everyone. Why don't you take a look at this man?416, don't you go anywhere!" 416 blinks out of the darkness at the assembled prisoners and guards whoare all looking at him. He is holding a sausage in each hand!Burdan: "How come you holdin' on to your sausages, 416?""He hasn't ate no sausages yet," Hellmann says, his usually good grammarbreaking down as he becomes more emotional. "And you know what that meansfor the rest of you?"The prisoners respond knowingly in the negative, "No blanket tonight.""That's right, it means no blankets tonight for all of you! Come over here oneat a time and try to say something to 416 to get him to eat those sausages. Let'sstart with you, 5486."The prisoner walks to the door, looks 416 in the eyes and tells him gently,"You eat those sausages if you want to, 416.""That's sure a half-assed way to tell him to do something, 5486," Burdan admonishes. "I guess you don't want your blankets tonight. Next up, 7258, you tellhim."In sharp contrast to the first prisoner in line, 7258 yells at the rebel inmate,"Eat your sausages, 416, or I'll kick your ass!"Hellmann is pleased at the expression of inmate enmity, and he grins fromear to ear. "Now, that's more like it! 5486, you come over here and do it again. Tellhim you gonna kick his ass if he don't eat those sausages."He now meekly complies. "2093, come over here and tell him you're gonnakick his ass."Sarge makes a moving statement: "I am sorry, sir, I will not use a profaneword toward another human being.""Just what do you object to?""I object to the word that you used." Hellmann tries to get him to say "ass," but his tricks don't work."Which word? 'Kick?' You don't wanna say 'kick,' is that what it is? Thenwhat the hell are you talkin' about?" Sarge tries to clarify himself, but Hellmann cuts him off: "I gave you an order!" Hellmann is becoming frustrated by Sarge's refusal to follow his orders. Forthe first time, the seemingly mindless robot has shown he has backbone and soul."Now, you get over there and tell him what I told you to tell him."Sarge continues to apologize but remains firm. "I am sorry, Mr. CorrectionalOfficer. I am not capable of doing it.""Well, you're not capable of having a bed tonight, is that what you want to say?" Standing his ground, Sarge makes clear his values: "I would prefer to gowithout a bed than to say that, Mr. Correctional Officer."Hellmann is steaming. He paces a few steps away and then turns back towardSarge, as though he were going to whack him for his insubordination in front of this entire audience.


Good Guard Geoff Landry sensing the eruption, offers a compromise: "Go over and say you're gonna kick him in the end, then." "Yes, Mr. Correctional Officer," says Sarge. He then walks over and says to 416, "Eat your sausages or I'll kick you in theend." Landry asks, "Do you mean it?"

"Yes . . . no, Mr. Correctional Officer. I'm sorry, I don't mean it."

Burdan asks why he's lying.

"I did what the correctional officer told me to say, sir."

Hellmann comes to the defense of his fellow officer: "He didn't tell you to lie." Burdan realizes that Sarge is getting the upper hand by holding fast to his high moral ground and it could have an effect on the others. He deftly turns things around and down: "Nobody wants you to do anyly ing in here, 2093. So why don't you do some lying on the ground." He makes Sarge lie on the floor facedown with his arms spread out. "Now start giving us some push-ups from your position." Hellmann joins in: "5704, you go over and sit on his back." After more direction from Hellmann on how he should do push-ups from such a position, Sarge is strong enough to do so. "And don't help him. Now do a push-up. 5486, you sit on his back too, facing the other way." He hesitates. "Let's go, on top of his back, now!" He complies. Together the guards force Sarge to do a push-up with both prisoners 5486 and 5704 sitting on his back (they do so without any hesitation). Sarge struggles with all his might and pride to complete a push-up cycle. He strains to raise himself from the floor but then collapses under the weight of this human burden. The devilish duo bursts into laugher, making fun of Sarge. They are not quite done humiliating Sarge, but 416's stubborn resistance against eating his sausages is of greater immediate consequence to these guards. Hell mann intones: "I just don't understand a thing like those sausages, 416. I don't understand how we can have so many counts and so many good times, we do it so nice, and tonight we just fuck it up. Why is that?" While Hellmann seeks a simple answer, Burdan is quietly talking with 416 about the sausages, trying another soft-sell tactic: "How do they taste? Mmmm; I know you'd like 'em once you tasted 'em." Hellmann repeats his question more loudly, in case any one has not heard it: "Why do we have so many good counts and then you try to fuck up tonight?" As Hellmann goes down the line for explicit answers, 7258 responds, "I don't know; I guess we're just bastards, Mr. Correctional Officer." Sarge answers, "I really wouldn't know, Mr. Correctional Officer." Hellmann seizes upon another chance to get back at Sarge for his earlier victorious subordination: "Areyou a bastard?" "If you say so, Mr. Correctional Officer." "If I say so? I wanty ou to say it." Sarge is steadfast: "I'm sorry sir, I object to the use of the language, Sir. I can not say it." Burdan jumps in: "You just said you couldn't say that stuff to other human beings, 2093. But this is a different question. You can't say it to yourself?" Sarge counters, "I consider myself a human being, sir." Burdan: "You consider yourselfanoth er human being?" Sarge: "I made the statement that I could not say it to another human being." Burdan: "And that includesy ourself } " Sarge replies in an even, measured, carefully phrased way, as though in a col lege debate, and in this situation, where he has been the target of such abuse, says, "The statement initially would not have included myself, sir. I would not think of saying it to myself. The reason is that because I would be . . . " He sighs and then trails off, mumbling, becoming emotionally battered. Hellmann: "So that meansy ou would be a bastard, wouldn't you?" Sarge: "No, Mr.—" Hellmann: "Yes, you would!" Sarge: "Yes, if you say so, Mr. Correctional Officer." Burdan: "You'd be saying very nasty things about your mother, that's what you'd be doing, 2093." Burdan obviously wants a piece of the action, but Hellmann wants to run the game himself and does not appreciate his sidekick's intrusions. Hellmann: "What would you be? What would you be? Would you be abas tard?" Sarge: "Yes, Mr. Correctional Officer." Hellmann: "Well, let me heary ou say it." Sarge: "I'm sorry, sir. I will not say it." Hellmann: "Why the hell won't you say it?" Sarge: "Because I do not use any profane language." Hellmann: "Well, why did you apply it to yourself? What are you?" Sarge: "I am whatever you wish me to be, Mr. Correctional Officer." Hellmann: "Well, if you say it, if you say that you are a bastard—you wanna know something—then you just proved my point. That you was a bastard. You say so. Then why don't you say it?" Sarge: "I'm sorry, sir, I will not say it." Hellmann senses that he has lost another challenge, and he reverts to the divide-and-conquer tactic that has proven so effective before: "Now, boys, you wanna get a good night's sleep tonight, don't you?" They all say, "Yes, sir!" Hellmann: "Well, I think we gonna wait a little bit, to let 2093 think about just what a bastard he is. And then maybe he'll tell the rest of us that he thinks so." (This is an unexpected power struggle between the most controlling, power- hungry guard and the prisoner who until now has been a totally obedient prisoner, so much so that he is ridiculed as "Sarge," whom most prisoners and guards dislike as they all have considered him to be nothing more than a military robot. He is proving that he has another admirable facet to his character; he is a man of principle.) Sarge: "I think you are perfectly accurate in your condemnation of me, Mr. Correctional Officer." Hellmann: "Oh, I know that." Sarge: "But, I cannot say the word, Mr. Correctional Officer." Hellmann: "Say what?" Sarge: "I shall not say, with any meaning, the word 'bastard.' " Bells, whistles, cannons, parade music sounds. Burdan shouts out with unbridled joy: "He said it!" Hellmann: "Well, glory be! Yes, indeed! Did he say that, 5704?" 5704: "Yes, he did, Mr. Correctional Officer." Hellmann: "I believe we've got a winner." Burdan: "These boys might even get to bed tonight, who knows?" Not content to have won a partial victory, Hellmann has to demonstrate the arbitrary power he commands. "Just for swearing, 2093, you get down on the floor and do ten push-ups." Sarge: "Thank you, Mr. Correctional Officer," he says as he executes perfect push-up form, despite his obvious exhaustion. Burdan, upset that Sarge can still perform so well, derides even perfect push ups: "2093, where do you think you are? Boot camp?" Now laid-back Geoff Landry chimes in from the chair he has been lounging in for the past hour: "Do ten more." For the spectators he adds, "Do the rest of you think those are good push-ups?" They answer, "Yes, they are." Big Landry shows an odd display of authority, perhaps to assure himself that he still has some in the eyes of the prisoners. "Well you're wrong. 2093, do five more." Sarge's account of this confrontation is framed in a curiously impersonal style: The guard ordered me to call another prisoner a 'bastard,' and call myself the same. The former I would never do, the latter of which would produce a logical paradox denying the validity of the former. He began as he always does before "punishments," alluding to the hint in his vocal intonation that the others would be punished for my actions. In order to avoid their punishment and avoid obeying that command, I produced a reaction that would solve both by saying, "I will not use the word bastard in any mean ingful way"—giving both he and myself a way out.10 Sarge is emerging as a man of considerable principle, not the blindly obedient toady he initially seemed to be. Later, he tells us something interesting about the mind-set he adopted as a prisoner in this setting: When I entered the prison I determined to be myself as closely as I know myself. My philosophy of prison was not to cause or add to the deteriora tion of character on the part of fellow prisoners or myself, and to avoid causing anyone punishments because of my actions. THE POWER OF SAUSAGE SYMBOLISM Why have those two shriveled, filthy sausages become so important? For 416, the sausages represent challenging an evil system by doing something that he can control and cannot be forced to do otherwise. In so doing, he foils the guards' dominance. For the guards, 416's refusal to eat the sausages represents a major violation of the rule that prisoners must eat at mealtimes and only at mealtimes. That rule was instituted so that prisoners would not be asking for or getting food at any time other than the three scheduled mealtimes. However, this rule has now been extended to cover the guards' power to force prisoners to eat food whenever it is served. Refusal to eat has become an act of disobedience that they will not tol erate, because such refusal could trigger further challenges to their authority from the others, who until now had traded rebellion for docility. For the other prisoners, 416's refusal to knuckle under should have been seen as a heroic gesture. It might have rallied them around him to take a collective stand against their continuing and escalating abusive treatment by the guards. The strategic problem is that 416 did not first share his plan with the others to get them on his side by understanding the significance of his dissent. His decision to go on a hunger strike was private and thus did not engage his peers. Sensing 416's tenuous social position in the jail as the new guy who has not suffered as much as the others, the guards intuitively set about framing him into a "trouble maker" whose obstinance will only result in punishment or loss of privileges for them. They also characterize his hunger strike as a selfish act because he does not care that it can curtail prisoner-visiting privileges. However, the prisoners should see that it is the guards who are establishing this arbitrary illogicality between his eating sausages and their getting visitors. Having dismissed Sarge's opposition, Hellmann turns back to his skinny nemesis, Prisoner 416. He orders him out of solitary to do fifteen push-ups, "Just for me, and real quick." 416 gets down on the floor and begins to do push-ups. However, he is so weak and so disoriented that they are hardly push-ups. He is mostly just raising his butt.Hellmann can't believe what he is seeing. "What is he doing?" he shouts in an incredulous voice. "Pushing his ass around," says Burdan. Landry awakening from his dormant state adds, "We told him to do push ups."Hellmann is screaming: "Are those push-ups, 5486?" The prisoner answers, "I guess so, Mr. Correctional Officer." "No way. They are not push-ups." Jerry-5486 agrees, "If you say so, they are not push-ups, Mr. Correctional Of ficer." Burdan jumps in: "He's swishing his ass, isn't he, 2093?" Sarge meekly acquiesces: "If you say so, Mr. Correctional Officer." Burdan: "What's he doing?" 5486 complies: "He's swishin' his ass." Hellmann makes Paul-5704 demonstrate the way to do good push-ups for 416's edification. "See that, 416? He's not pushin' his ass. He's not fuckin' a hole in the ground. Now do it right!" 416 tries to imitate 5704, but he is unable to do so because he just does not have enough strength. Burdan adds his mean observation: "Can't you keep your body straight while you're doing this, 416? You look like you're on a roller coaster or something." Hellmann rarely uses physical aggression. He prefers instead to dominate verbally, sarcastically, and with inventively sadistic games. He is always aware of the exact freedom allowed him by the margin of his role as guard—he may impro vise but must not lose control of himself. However, this night's challenges have gotten to him. He stands beside 416, who is lying on the ground in a push-up po sition, and orders him to do slow push-ups. Hellmann then puts his foot on top of 416's back as he goes up and pushes down hard on the backstroke. The others all seem to be surprised at this physical abuse. After a couple of push-ups, the tough- guy guard lifts his foot off of the prisoner's back and orders him back into the Hole, slamming the door with a loud clang and locking it. As I watch this, I recall prisoners' drawings of Nazi guards at Auschwitz doing the same thing, stepping on a prisoner's back as he does push-ups. "A Self-Righteous, Pious Asshole" Burdan yells to 416 through the door of his confinement, "You don't eat, you're not gonna have very much energy, 416." (I suspect Burdan is beginning to feel sorry for the plight of this puny little kid.) Now it is time for Guard Hellmann's ascendancy. He delivers a minisermon: "I hope you boys are taking an example here. There is no reason for you to disobey orders. I haven't given you anything you can't obey. There's no reason why I should offend anybody. You're not in here for being upstanding citizens, you know. All this self-righteous drivel makes me puke. And you can knock it off right now." He asks Sarge for an evaluation of his little speech, and Sarge answers, "I think you made a nice speech, Mr. Correctional Officer." Getting close to his face, Hellmann goes back to attacking Sarge: "You think you're a self-righteous, pious asshole?" Sarge replies: "If you wish to think so." "Well, think about that. You are a self-righteous, pious asshole." We are back on the not so merry-go-round, with Sarge replying "I will be one if you wish me to be, Mr. Correctional Officer." "I don't wish you to be, you just are." "As you say, Mr. Correctional Officer." Hellmann again goes up and down the ranks desperate for approval, and each prisoner agrees with him. "He's a self-righteous, pious asshole." "A self-righteous, pious asshole, Mr. Correctional Officer." "Yes, a self-righteous, pious asshole." Delighted that at least this little world sees things his way, Hellmann tells Sarge, "I'm sorry, it's four to one. You lose." Sarge responds that all that matters is what he thinks of himself. "Well, if you think something else, then I think you're in very serious trouble. Because you're not really in touch with what is real, with reality. You live a life that's nothing butm endac ity , that's what you doin'. I'm sick of you, 2093." "I'm sorry, Mr. Correctional Officer." "You such a self-righteous, pious bastard that I wanna puke." "I'm sorry if I make you feel that way, Mr. Correctional Officer." Burdan makes Sarge bend over in a fixed position touching his toes, so that he doesn't have to look at his face again. "Say, 'Thank You, 416!' " The last thing that Hellmann must achieve in his battle against belligerents is to crush any sympathy that may be developing among the prisoners for the sad case of 416. "It is unfortunate that we all have to suffer because some people just don't have their minds right. You've got a nice friend in here [as he bangs against the door of the Hole]. He's gonna see to it that you don't get blankets tonight." Hellmann aligns his plight with that of the prisoners, against theircom m on enemy, numero 416, who is about to harm them all by his foolish hunger strike. Burdan and Hellmann line up the four prisoners and encourage them to say "Thanks" to their fellow Prisoner 416 sitting in the dark, cramped Hole. Each does so in turn. "Why don't you all thank 416 for this?" They all recite, "Thank you, 416." Still even that is not sufficient for this devilish duo. Hellmann commands them, "Now go over there, next to the door. I want you to thank him withyour fists,on the door." They do so, one by one, banging on the door, as they recite, "Thank you, 416!" As they do, a loud, resonating noise booms through the Hole, to further ter rify pitiable 416, alone in there. Burdan: "That's the way, with real spirit." (It's difficult to determine the extent to which the other prisoners are angry with 416 for causing them all this unnecessary grief, or are just following orders, or are indirectly working off some of their frustrations and rage against the guards' abuses.) Hellmann shows them how to bang really hard against the door, several times for good measure. Sarge is last and surprisingly complies meekly and obedi ently. When he is finished, Burdan grabs Sarge by the shoulders and pushes him hard against the back wall. He then orders the prisoners back into their cells and says to his chief operating officer, Hellmann, "They're all ready for lights-out, Officer." THE DIRTY BLANKET BARGAIN Recall the classic southern prison movie Cool Hand Luke, from which I borrowed the idea that the guards and staff should wear silver reflecting sunglasses to cre ate a sense of anonymity. Tonight Guard Hellmann would improvise a script that might rival the best that the scriptwriter could have created in shaping the nature of prison authority. He enacts a creatively evil scene that demonstrates that his power can create an arbitrary reality by providing the inmates with an illusion of choice to punish one of their fellows. Lights dimmed, prisoners in their cells, 416 in solitary. An eerie quiet looms over the Yard. Hellmann slithers up on the table that is between the Hole and our observation post, behind which we are recording these events, allowing us to get a close look at the unfolding drama. As the chief night shift guard leans back against the wall, legs crossed in a Buddha-like lotus position, one arm hanging be tween his legs, the other resting on the table, Hellmann is the portrait of power in repose. He moves his head slowly from side to side. We notice his long sideburns, muttonchops, down to his chin. He licks his thick lips as he chooses his words carefully and articulates them with an accentuated southern drawl. The Man has come up with a new Machiavellian plan. He lays out his terms for the release of 416 from solitary. It is not up to him to decide to keep the trou blemaker in the Hole all night; rather, he is inviting all of them, the fellow prison ers, to make that decision: Should 416 be released now, or should he rot in the Hole all night? Just then, Kindly Guard Geoff Landry saunters into the Yard. At six feet three and 185 pounds, he is the biggest of all the guards or prisoners. As usual, he holds a cigarette in one hand, the other hand in his pocket, sunglasses conspicu ously absent. He walks to the center of the action, stops, looks distressed, frowns, seems about to intervene, and does nothing but passively observe John Wayne continue with showtime. "Now, there are several ways to do this, depending on whatyou want to do. Now, if 416 does not want to eat his sausages, then you can give me your blankets and sleep on the bare mattress. Or you can keep your blankets and 416 will stay in there another day. Now what will it be?" "I'll keep my blanket, Mr. Correctional Officer," 7258 calls out immediately. (Hubbie has no use for 416.) "What will it be over here?" "Keep my blanket," says Paul-5704, our former rebel leader. "How about 5486?" Refusing to yield to the social pressure, 5486 shows sympathy for the sad 416 by offering to give up his blanket so that 416 does not have to stay in solitary for another day. Burdan yells at him, "We don't want your blanket!" "Now, you boys are gonna have to come to some kind of decision here." Burdan, who has been assuming the posture of a swaggering little authority figure with hands on hips, swinging his club as often as possible, walks up and down past each of the cells. He turns to Sarge in his cell and asks him, "What do you feel about it?" Surprisingly, Sarge comes down from his high moral ground, which now seems limited only to not speaking obscenities, declares, "If the other two wish to keep their blankets, I'll keep my blanket." That proves to be the crucial swing vote. Burdan exclaims, "We got three against one." Hellmann repeats that message loud and clear, so that all can hear. "We got three against one." As he slides off the table, the boss shouts into the Hole, "416, you're gonna be in there for a while, so just get used to it!"11 Hellmann struts off the Yard, with Burdan dutifully following and Landry taking up the reluctant rear. An apparent victory has been won in the endless struggle of guard power against organized prisoner resistance. Indeed, it has been a hard day's night for these guards, but they can now enjoy the sweet taste of vic tory in this battle of wills and wits. CHAPTER SEVEN The Power to Parole Technicallys p e a k i n g , o u r Stanford Prison was more like a countyj a i l filled with a group of adolescents who were being held in pretrial detention following their Sunday-morning mass arrests by the Palo Alto City Police. Obviously, no trial date had yet been set for any of these role-playing felons, and none of them had legal representation. Nevertheless, following the advice of the prison chaplain, Father McDermott, a mother of one of the prisoners was going about securing counsel for her son. After a full staff meeting with Warden David Jaffe and the "psychologi cal counselors," the graduate assistants Craig Haney and Curt Banks, we decide to include a Parole Board hearing even though in fact that would not have oc curred at this early stage in the criminal justice process. This would provide an opportunity to observe each prisoner deal with an un expected opportunity to be released from his imprisonment. Until now, each pris oner had appeared only as a single actor among an ensemble of players. By holding the hearing in a room outside the prison setting, the prisoners would get some respite from their oppressively narrow confines in the basement level. They might feel freer to express their attitudes and feelings in this new environment, which would include some personnel not directly connected with the prison staff. The procedure also added to the formality of our prison experience. The Parole Board hearing, like Visiting Nights, the prison chaplain's visit, and the anticipated visit by a public defender, lent credibility to the prison experience. Finally, I wanted to see how our prison consultant, Carlo Prescott, would enact his role as head of the Stanford County Jail Parole Board. As I said, Carlo had failed many pa role board hearings in the past seventeen years and only recently had been granted lifetime parole for "good time served" on his armed robbery convictions Would he be compassionate and side with the prisoners' requests, as someone who had been in their place pleading for parole? The Parole Board hearings were held on the first floor of Stanford's Psychology Department, in my laboratory, a carpeted, large room that included pro visions for hidden videotaping and observation from behind a specially designed one-way window. The four members of the Board sat around a six-sided table. Carlo sat at the head place, next to Craig Haney, and on his other side sat a male graduate student and a female secretary, both of whom had little prior knowledge of our study and were helping us out as a favor. Curt Banks would serve as sergeant-at-arms to transfer each applicant from the guard command to the parole-hearing command. I would be videotaping the proceedings from the adja cent room. Of the remaining eight prisoners on Wednesday morning, after 8612's re lease, four had been deemed potentially eligible for parole by the staff, based on generally good behavior. They had been given the opportunity to request a hear ing of their case and had written formal requests explaining why they thought they deserved parole at this time. Some of the others would have a hearing an other day. However, the guards insisted that Prisoner 416 not be granted such op portunity because of his persistent violation of Rule 2, "Prisoners must eat at mealtimes and only at mealtimes." A CHANCE TO REGAIN FREEDOM The day shift guards line up this band of four prisoners in the Yard, as was done routinely during each night's last toilet run. The chain upon one prisoner's leg is attached to that of the next, and large paper bags are put over their heads so they will not know how they got from the jail yard to the parole setting or where in the building it is located. They are seated on a bench in the hall outside the parole room. Their leg chains are removed, but they sit still handcuffed and bagged until Curt Banks comes out of the room to call each one by his number. Curt, the sergeant-at-arms, reads the prisoner's parole statement, followed by the opposing statement of any of the guards to deny his parole. He escorts each to sit at the right-hand side of Carlo, who takes the lead from there. In order of ap pearance come Prisoner Jim-4325, Prisoner Glenn-3401, Prisoner Rich-1037, and finally Prisoner Hubbie-7258. After each has had his time before the Board, he is returned to the hallway bench, handcuffed, chained, and bagged until the session is completed and all the prisoners are returned to the prison basement. Before the first prisoner appears, as I'm checking the video quality, the old- time pro, Carlo, begins to educate the Board neophytes on some basic Parole Board realities. (See Notes for his soliloquy.)1 Curt Banks, sensing that Carlo is warming up to one of the long speeches he's heard too often during our summer school course, says authoritatively, "We've gotta move, time is running." Prisoner 4325 Pleads Not Guilty Prisoner Jim-4325 is escorted into the chamber; his handcuffs are removed, and he is offered a seat. He is a big, robust guy. Carlo challenges him right off with "Why are you in prison? How do you plead?" The prisoner responds, with all due seriousness, "Sir, I have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon. But I wish to plead not guilty to that charge."2 "Not guilty?" Carlo feigns total surprise. "So you're implying that the officers who arrested you didn't know what they were doing, that there's been some mis take, some confusion? That the people who were trained in law enforcement, and presumably have had a number of years of experience, are prone to picky ou up out of the entire population of Palo Alto and that they don't know what they're talking about, that they have some confusion in their minds about what you've done? In other words, they're liars—are you saying that they're liars?" 4325: "I'm not saying they're liars, there must have been very good evi dence and everything. I certainly respect their professional knowledge and every thing. ... I haven't seen any evidence, but I assume it must be pretty good for them to pick me up." (The prisoner is submitting to higher authority; his initial assertiveness is receding in the wake of Carlo's dominating demeanor.) Carlo Prescott: "In that case, you've just verified that there must be some thing to what they say." 4325: "Well, obviously there must be something to what they say if they picked me up." Prescott starts with questions that explore the prisoner's background and his future plans, but he is eager to know more about his crime: "What kinds of asso ciations, what kinds of things do you do in your spare time that put you into a position to be arrested? That's a serious charge . . . you know you can kill someone when you assault them. What did you do? You shoot them or stab them or—?" 4325: "I'm not sure, sir. Officer Williams said—" Prescott: "What didy ou do? Shoot them or stab them or bomb them? Did you use one of those rifles?" Craig Haney and other members of the Board try to ease the tension by ask ing the prisoner about how he has been adjusting to prison life. 4325: "Well, by nature I'm something of an introvert... and I guess the first few days I thought about it, and I figured that the very best thing to do was to behave ..." Prescott takes over again: "Answer his question, we don't want a lot of intel lectual bullshit. He asked you a direct question, now answer the question!" Craig interrupts with a question about the rehabilitative aspects of the prison, to which the prisoner replies, "Well, yes, there's some merit to it, I've cer tainly learned to be obedient, and at points of stress I've been somewhat bitter, but the correctional officers are doing their job." Prescott: "This Parole Board can't hold your hand outside. You say they've taught you a degree of obedience, taught you how to be cooperative, but you won't have anybody watching over you outside, you'll be on your own. What kind of a citizen do you think you can make, with these kinds of charges against you? I'm looking over your charges here. This is quite a list!" With total assurance and dominance, Carlo looks over a totally blank notepad as if it were the prisoner's "rap sheet," filled with his convictions, and remarks about his pattern of arrests and releases. He continues, "You know, you tell us that you can make it out there as a result of the discipline you learned in here. We can't hold your hand out t h e r e . . . what makes you think you can make it now? " 4325: "I've found something to look forward to. I am going to the University of California, to Berkeley, and going into a major. I want to try physics, I'm defi nitely looking forward to that experience." Prescott cuts him short and switches to interrogate him about his religious beliefs and then about why he has not taken advantage of the prison's programs of group therapy or vocational therapy. The prisoner seems genuinely confused, saying he would have done so but he was never offered such opportunities. Carlo asks Curt Banks to check on the truth of that last assertion, which, he says, he personally doubts. (Of course, he knows that we have no such programs in this experiment, but it is what his parole board members have always asked him in the past.) After a few more questions from other Board members, Prescott asks the correctional officer to take the inmate back to his cell. The prisoner stands and thanks the board. He then automatically extends his arms, palms facing each other, as the attending guard locks on the handcuffs. Jim-4325 is escorted out, re- bagged, and made to sit in silence in the hallway while the next prisoner has his turn at the Board. After the prisoner leaves, Prescott notes for the record, "Well, that guy's an awful smooth talker..." My notes remind me that "Prisoner 4325 has appeared quite composed and generally in control of himself—he has been one of our 'model prisoners' so far. He seems confused by Prescott's aggressive interrogation about the crime for which he was arrested, and is easily pushed into admitting that he's probably guilty, despite the fact that his crime is completely fictional. Throughout the hear ing, he is obedient and agreeable, which demeanor contributes to his relative suc cess and probably longevity as a survivor in this prison setting." A Shining Example Is Dimmed Next, Curt announces that Prisoner 3401 is ready for our board hearing, and reads aloud his appeal: I want parole so that I may take my new life into this despairing world and show the lost souls that good behavior is rewarded with warm hearts; that the materialist pigs have no more than the impoverished poor; that the common criminal can be fully rehabilitated in less than a week, and that God, faith, and brotherhood are still strongly in us all. I deserve parole be cause I believe my conduct throughout my stay has been undoubtedly be yond reproach. I have enjoyed the comforts and find that it would be best to move on to higher and more sacred places. Also, being a cherished prod uct of our environment, we all can be assured that my full rehabilitation is everlasting. God bless. Very truly yours, 3401. Remember me, please, as a shining example. The guards' counter-recommendations present a stark contrast: 3401 has been a constant two-bit troublemaker. Not only that, he is a fol lower, finding no good within himself to develop. He meekly mimics bad things. I recommend no parole. Signed by Guard Arnett. I see no reason why 3401 deserves parole, nor can I even make the con nection between the 3401 I know and the person described in this parole request. Signed by Guard Markus. 3401 doesn't deserve parole and his own sarcastic request indicates this. Signed by Guard John Landry. Prisoner 3401 is then brought in with the paper bag still over his head, which Carlo wants removed so he can see the face of this "little punk." He and the other board members react with surprise when they discover that 3401, Glenn, is Asian American, the only non-Caucasian in the mix. Glenn is playing against type with his rebellious, flippant style. However, he fits the stereotype physically; a short five feet, two inches, slight but wiry build, cute face, and shiny jet black hair. Craig starts by inquiring about the prisoner's role in the prisoner uprising that started when his cell created the barricade. What did he do to stop it? 3401 replies with surprising bluntness: "I did not stop it, I encouraged it!" After further inquiry into this situation by other board members, 3401 continues in a sarcastic tone, so different from Prisoner 4325's apparent humility, "I think the purpose of our institution is to rehabilitate the prisoners and not to antago nize them, and I felt that as a result of our actions—" Warden Jaffe, seated along the side of the room and not at the Board table, cannot resist getting in his licks: "Perhaps you don't have the proper notion of what rehabilitation is. We're trying to teach you to be a productive member of so ciety, not how to barricade yourself in the cell!" Prescott has had enough of these diversions. He reasserts his role as head honcho: "At least two citizens have said that they observed you leaving the site of the crime." (He has invented this on the spot.) Carlo continues, " To challenge the vision of three people is to say that all of humanity is blind!" Now, did you write that 'God, faith, and brotherhood are still strong'? Is it brotherhood to take some body else's property?" Carlo then moves in to play the obvious race card: "Very few of you Oriental people are in the prisons . . . in fact, they're likely to be very good citizens. . . . You've been a constant troublemaker, you've mocked a prison situation here, you come in here and talk about rehabilitation as if you think you should be permit ted to run a prison. You sit here at the table and you interrupt the warden by indi cating that you think that what you're saying is much more important than anything that he could say. Frankly, I wouldn't parole you if you were the last man in the prison, I think you're the least likely prospect of parole we have, what do you think about that?" "You're entitled to your opinion, sir," says 3401. "My opinion means something in this particular place!" Carlo retorts angrily. Prescott asks more questions, not allowing the prisoner a chance to answer them, and ends up denouncing and dismissing 3401: "I don't think we need to take any more time just now. I'm of the opinion that the record and his attitude in the boardroom indicate quite clearly what his attitude is . . . we've got a schedule, and I don't see any reason to even discuss this. What we have here is a recalcitrant who writes nice speeches." Before leaving, the prisoner tells the Board that he has a skin rash that is going to break out and it is worrying him. Prescott asks whether he has seen a doctor, whether he has gone on sick call or done anything constructive to take care of his problem. When the prisoner says that he has not, Carlo reminds him that this is a parole board and not a medical board, and then dismisses his concern: "We try to find some reason to parole any man who comes in, and once you come into this particular prison it's up to you to maintain a record, a kind of de meanor which indicates to us that you can make an adjustment to society.... I want you to consider some of the things that you wrote at an intrinsic level; you're an intelligent man and know the language quite well, I think that you can probably change yourself, yes, you might have a chance to change yourself in the future." Carlo turns to the guard and gestures to take the prisoner away. A now- contrite little boy slowly raises his arms outstretched as handcuffs are applied, and out he goes. He may be realizing that his flippant attitude has cost him dearly, that he was not prepared for this event to be so serious and the Parole Board so in tense. My notes indicate that Prisoner 3401 is more complex than he appears ini tially. He reveals an interesting mix of traits. He is usually quite serious and polite when he is dealing with the guards in the prison, but in this instance, he has written a sarcastic, humorous letter requesting parole, referencing a nonexistent re habilitation, mentioning his spirituality, and claiming to be a model prisoner. The guards don't seem to like him, as is evident in their strong letters advising against parole. His bold parole request letter stands in striking contrast with his demeanor—the young man we see in this room, subdued, even cowed, by the ex perience. "No joking allowed here." The Board, especially Prescott, goes after him viciously, yet he doesn't cope with the attack effectively. As the hearing pro gresses, he becomes increasingly withdrawn and unresponsive. I wonder if he will survive the full two weeks. A Rebel Relents Next up is Prisoner 1037, Rich, whose mother was so worried about him last night when she visited and saw him looking so awful. He is the same one who blockaded himself in Cell 2 this morning. He is also a frequent occupant of the Hole. 1037's appeal is interesting but loses something when read quickly in a flat, unemotional tone by Curt Banks: I would like to be paroled so that I may spend the last moments of my teenage years with old friends. I will turn 20 on Monday. I believe that the correctional staff has convinced me of my many weaknesses. On Monday, I rebelled, thinking that I was being treated unjustly. However, that evening I finally realized that I was unworthy of better treatment. Since that time I have done my best to cooperate, and I now know that every member of the correctional staff is only interested in the well-being of my self and the other prisoners. Despite my horrible disrespect for them and their wishes, the prison staff has treated and is treating me well. I deeply respect their ability to turn the other cheek and I believe that because of their own goodness I have been rehabilitated and transformed into a better human being. Sincerely, 1037. Three guards have provided a collective recommendation, which Curt reads aloud: While 1037 is improving since his rebellion phase, I believe he has a bit more to develop before being exposed to the public as one of our corrected products. I agree with the other officers' appraisal of 1037, and also with 1037, that he has gotten much better, but has not yet reached a perfectly acceptable level. 1037 has a way to go before parole, and is improving. I don't recommend parole. When Rich-1037 enters the room, he reveals a strange blend of youthful en ergy and incipient depression. Immediately, he talks about his birthday, his only reason to request parole; it happens to be very important to him, and he forgot about it when he originally signed up. He is in full swing when the warden asks him a question that he can't answer without either getting into trouble or undo ing his justification for leaving: "Don't you think our prison is capable of giving you a birthday party?" Prescott seizes the opportunity: "You've been in society for a while, even at your age. You know the rules. You must recognize that prisons are for people who break rules, and you place that in jeopardy by doing exactly what you did. Son, I recognize that you're changing, it's indicated here, and I think seriously that you've improved. But here, in your own handwriting, 'despite my horrible disre spect for them and their wishes.' Horrible disrespect! You can't disrespect other people and their property. What would happen if everybody in this nation disre spected everybody else's property? You'll probably kill if you're apprehended." As Carlo continues to seemingly review the prisoner's record on his stillb lank notepad, he stops at the point where he has discovered something vital: "I see here in your arrest reports that you were quite cantankerous, in fact you had to be re pressed, and you could have inflicted hurt or worse on some of the arresting offi cers. I'm very impressed by your progress, and I think that you're beginning to recognize that your behavior has been immature and in many ways is entirely de void of judgment and concern for other people. You turn people into sticks; you make them think that they are objects, for your use. You've manipulated people! All your life you seem to have manipulated people, all your reports talk about your indifference toward law and order. There are periods in which you don't seem to control your behavior. What makes you think that you could be a good parole prospect? What could you tell us? We're trying to help you." Prisoner 1037 is not prepared for this personal attack on his character. He mumbles an incoherent explanation for being able to "walk away" from a situation that might tempt him to behave violently. He goes on to say that this prison experience has helped him: "Well, I've gotten to see a lot of people's different reac tions to different situations, how they handled themselves with respect to other people, such as speaking with various cellmates, their reactions to the same situa tions. The three different shifts of guards, I've noticed the individual guards have small differences in the same situations." 1037 then curiously brings up his "weaknesses," namely his part as agitator in Monday's prisoner rebellion. He has become entirely submissive, blaming him self for defying the guards and never once criticizing them for their abusive be havior and nonstop hassling. (Before my eyes is a perfect example of mind control in action. The process exactly resembles American POWs in the Korean War con fessing publicly to using germ warfare and other wrongdoings to their Chinese Communist captors.) Unexpectedly, Prescott interrupts this discussion of the prisoner's weaknesses to ask assertively, "Do you use drugs?" When 1037 replies "No." he is allowed to continue apologizing until inter rupted again. Prescott notices a black-and-blue bruise on the inmate's arm and asks how he got that big bruise. Although it came from one or more of the scuffles between him and the guards, prisoner 1037 denies the guard's part in restraining him or dragging him into solitary, saying that the guards had been as gentle as they could. By continually disobeying their orders, he says, he brought the bruise on himself. Carlo likes that mea culpa. "Keep up the good work, huh?" 1037 says that he would consider parole even if it meant forfeiting his salary. (That seems rather extreme, given how much he has been through to have nothing to show for it.) Throughout he answers the Board's questions competently, but his depression hovers over him, as Prescott notes in his comments after the hearing. His state of mind is something his mother detected immediately during her visit with him and in her complaints to me when she came to the Superintendent's Office. It is as though he were trying to hang on as long as possible in order to prove his manliness—perhaps to his dad? He provides some interesting answers to questions about what he has gained from his experience in the prison, but most of them sound like superficial lines made up simply for the benefit of the Board. The Good-Looking Kid Gets Trashed Last in line is the handsome young prisoner Hubbie-7258, whose appeal Curt reads with a bit of scorn: My first reason for parole is that my woman is going away on vacation very soon and I would like to see her a little bit more before she goes, see ing that when she gets back is just about the same time I leave for college. If I get back only after the full two weeks here, I will only see her for a total time of one-half hour. Here we can't say good-bye and talk, with the cor rectional officer and the chaperone, the way we'd like to. Another reason is that I think that you have seen me and I know that I won't change. By change I mean breaking any of the rules set down for us, the prisoners, thus putting me out on parole would save my time and your expenditures. It is true that I did attempt an escape with former cellmate 8612, but ever since then, as I sat in my empty cell with no clothes on I knew that I shouldn't go against our correctional officers, so ever since then I have al most exactly followed all the rules. Also, you will note that I have the best cell in this prison. Again, Guard Arnett's recommendations are at odds with the prisoner's statement: "7258 is a rebellious wise guy," is Guard Arnett's overall appraisal, which he follows up with this cynical condemnation: "He should stay here for the duration or until he rots, whichever comes later." Guard Markus is more sanguine: "I like 7258 and he is an all-right prisoner, but I don't feel he is any more entitled to parole than any of the other prisoners, and I am confident that the prisoner experience will have a healthy effect on his rather unruly natural character." "I also like 7258, almost as much as 8612 [David, our spy], but I don't think he should get parole. I won't go as far as Arnett does, but parole shouldn't be given," writes John Landry. As soon as the prisoner is unbagged, he beams his usual big toothy smile, which irritates Carlo enough to spur his jumping all over him. "As a matter of fact, this whole thing's funny to you. You're a 'rebellious wise guy,' as the guard's report accurately describes you. Are you the kind of person who doesn't care anything about your life?" As soon as he starts to answer, Prescott changes course to ask about his edu cation. "I plan to start college in the fall at Oregon State U." Prescott turns to other Board members. "Here's what I say. You know what, education is a waste on some people. Some people shouldn't be compelled to go to college. They'd probably be happier as a mechanic or a drugstore salesman," waving his hand disdainfully at the prisoner. "Okay, let's move on. What did you do to get in here?" "Nothing, sir, but to sign up foran ex perim ent. " This reality check might otherwise threaten to unravel the proceedings, but not with skipper Prescott at the helm: "So wise guy, you think this is just anex perim ent? " He takes back the steering wheel, pretending to examine the prisoner's dossier. Prescott notes matter-of- factly, "You were involved in a burglary." Prescott turns to ask Curt Banks whether it was first- or second-degree burglary; Curt nods "first." "First, huh, just as I thought." It is time to teach this Young Turk some of life's lessons, starting with reminding him of what happens to prisoners who are caught in an escape attempt. You're eighteen years old, and look what you've done with your life! You sit here in front of us and tell us that you'd even be will ing to forfeit compensation to get out of prison. Everywhere I look in this report I see the same thing: 'wise guy,' 'smart aleck,' 'opposed to any sort of authority'! Where did you go wrong?" After asking what his parents do, his religious background, and whether he goes to church regularly, Prescott is angered by the prisoner's statement that his religion is "nondenominational." He retorts, "You haven't even decided about something as important as that either." The angered Prescott gets up and storms out of the room for a few minutes, as the other Board members ask some standard questions about how he plans to behave in the next week if his parole request is not granted. Forfeiting Pay for Freedom This break in the highly tense action gives me time to realize the importance of Prisoner 1037's assertion of willing to forfeit his pay for parole. We need to for malize that as a critical final question to be put to each of the prisoners. I tell Carlo to ask them, "Would you be willing to forfeit all the money you have earned as a prisoner if we were to parole you?" At first, Carlo poses a more extreme form of the question: "How much would you be willing to pay us to get out of here?" Confused, Prisoner 7258 says he won't pay money to be released. Carlo reframes the question, asking whether the prisoner would forfeit the money he's made so far. "Yes, indeed, sir, I would do that." Prisoner 7258 doesn't come across as particularly bright or self-aware. He also doesn't seem to take his entire situation as seriously as some of the other pris oners do. He is the youngest, barely eighteen, and is quite immature in his atti tudes and responses. Nevertheless, his detachment and sense of humor will serve him well in coping with most of what is in store for him and his peers in the week ahead. Next, we have each of the prisoners return to the parole chamber to answer that same final question about forfeiting their pay in exchange for parole. Pris oner 1037, the rebellious birthday boy, says yes to forfeiting his money if paroled. The cooperative Prisoner 4325 answers in the affirmative as well. Only Prisoner 3401, the defiant Asian American, would not want parole if it involved forfeiting his money, since he really needs it. In other words, three of these four young men want to be released so badly that they are willing to give up the hard-earned salary they have earned in their twenty-four-hour-a-day job as prisoners. What is remarkable to me is the power of the rhetorical frame in which this question is put. Recall that the primary mo tivation of virtually all the volunteers was financial, the chance to make fifteen dollars a day for up to two weeks at a time when they had no other source of income, just before school was to start in the fall. Now, despite all their suffering as prisoners, despite the physical and psychological abuse they have endless counts; the middle-of-the-night awakenings; the arbitrary, creative evil of some of the guards; the lack of privacy; the time spent in solitary; the nakedness; the chains; their bagged heads; the lousy food and minimal bedding—the major ity of the prisoners are willing to leave without pay to get out of this place. Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that after saying that money was less important than their freedom, each prisoner passively submitted to the system, holding out his hands to be handcuffed, submitting to the bag being put back over his head, accepting the chain on his leg, and, like sheep, following the guard back down to that dreadful prison basement. During their Parole Board hearing, they were physically out of the prison, in the presence of some "civilians" who were not directly associated with their tormentors downstairs. Why did none of them say, "Since I do not want your money, I am free to quit this experiment and demand to be released now." We would have had to obey their request and termi nate them at that moment. Yet none did. Not one prisoner later told us that he had even considered that he could quit the experiment because virtually all of them had stopped thinking of their experience as just an experiment. They felt trapped in a prison being run by psychologists, not by the State, as 416 had told us. What they had agreed to do was forfeit money they had earned as prisoners—if we chose to parole them. The power to free or bind was with the Parole Board, not in their personal decision to stop being a prisoner. If they were prisoners, only the Parole Board had the power to release them, but if they were, as indeed they were, experimental subjects, each of the students always held the power to stay or quit at any time. It was apparent that a mental switch had been thrown in their minds, from "now I am a paid ex perimental volunteer with full civil rights" to "now I am a helpless prisoner at the mercy of an unjust authoritarian system." During the postmortem, the Board discussed the individual cases and the overall reactions of this first set of prisoners. There was a clear consensus that all the prisoners seemed nervous, edgy, and totally consumed by their role as pris oners. Prescott sensitively shares his real concerns for Prisoner 1037. He accurately detects a deep depression building in this once fearless rebel ringleader: "It's just a feeling that you get, living around people who jump over prison tiers to their deaths, or cut their wrists. Here's a guy who had himself together sufficiently to present himself to us, but there were lags between his answers. Then the last guy in, he's coherent, he knows what's happened, he still talks about 'an experiment,' but at the same time, he's willing to sit and talk about his father, he's willing to sit and talk about his feelings. He seemed unreal to me, and I'm basing that just on the feeling I had. The second guy, the Oriental [Asian-American] prisoner, he's a stone. To me, he was like a stone." In summation, Prescott offers the following advice: "I join the rest of the group and propose letting a couple of prisoners out at different times, to try to get the prisoners trying to figure out what they have to begin to do in order to get out. Also, releasing a few prisoners soon would give some hope to the rest of them, and relieve some of their feelings of desperation." The consensus seems to be to release the first prisoner soon, big Jim-4325, and then number three, Rich-1037, later on, perhaps replacing them with other standby prisoners. There are mixed feelings about whether 3401 or 7258 should be released next, or at all. What Have We Witnessed Here? Three general themes emerge from the first Parole Board hearings: the bound aries between simulation and reality have been blurred; the prisoners' sub servience and seriousness has steadily increased in response to the guards' ever-greater domination, and there has been a dramatic character transformation in the performance of the Parole Board head, Carlo Prescott. Blurring the Line Between the Prison Experiment and the Reality of Imprisonment Impartial observers not knowing what had preceded this event might readily as sume that they were witnessing an actual hearing of a local prison parole board in action. The strength and manifest reality of the dialectic at work between those imprisoned and society's appointed guardians of them was reflected in many ways, among them, the overall seriousness of the situation, the formality of the parole requests by inmates, the opposing challenges from their guards, the diverse composition of all the Parole Board members, the nature of the personal questions put to the inmates, and accusations made against them—in short, the in tense affective quality of the entire proceeding. The basis of this interaction is obvious in the Board's questions and prisoners' answers regarding "past convic tions," the rehabilitative activities of attending classes or participating in therapy or vocational training sessions, arranging for legal representation, the status of their trial, and their future plans for becoming good citizens. It is as hard to realize that barely four days have passed in the lives of these student experimental volunteers as it is to imagine that their future as prisoners is little more than another week in the Stanford County Jail. Their captivity is not the many months or long years that the mock Parole Board seems to imply in its judgments. Role playing has become role internalization; the actors have as sumed the characters and identities of their fictional roles. The Prisoners' Subservience and Seriousness By this point, for the most part, the prisoners have slipped reluctantly, but finally compliantly, into their highly structured roles in our prison. They refer to them selves by their identification numbers and answer immediately to questions put to their anonymous identities. They answer what should be ridiculous questions with full seriousness, for example inquiries into the nature of their crimes and their rehabilitation efforts. With few exceptions, they have become completely subservient to the authority of the Parole Board as well as to the domination of the correctional officers and the system in general. Only Prisoner 7258 had the temerity to refer to his reason for being here as volunteering for an "experiment," but he quickly backed away from that assertion under Prescott's verbal assaults. The flippant style of some of their original parole requests, notably that of Prisoner 3401, the Asian-American student, withers under the negative judg ment of the Board that such unacceptable behavior does not warrant release. Most of the prisoners seem to have completely accepted the premises of the situa tion. They no longer object to or rebel against anything they are told or com manded to do. They are like Method actors who continue to play their roles when offstage and off camera, and their role has come to consume their identity. It must be distressing to those who argue for innate human dignity to note the servility of the former prisoner rebels, the heroes of the uprisings, who have been reduced to beggars. No heroes are stepping out from this aggregation. That feisty Asian-American prisoner, Glenn-3401, had to be released some hours after his stressful Parole Board experience, when he developed a full-body rash. Student Health Services provided the appropriate medication, and he was sent home to consult his own physician. The rash was his body's way of getting his release, as was Doug-8612's raging loss of emotional control. The Dramatic Transformation of the Parole Board Head I had known Carlo Prescott for more than three months before this event and had interacted with him almost daily in person and in frequent and long phone calls. As we co-taught a six-week-long course on the psychology of imprisonment, I had seen him in action as an eloquent, vehement critic of the prison system, which he judged to be a fascist tool designed to oppress people of color. He was re markably perceptive in the ways in which prisons and all other authoritarian sys tems of control can change all those in their grip, both the imprisoned and their imprisoners. Indeed, during his Saturday-evening talk-show program on the local radio station KGO, Carlo frequently made his listeners aware of the failure of this antiquated, expensive institution that their tax dollars were wasted in con tinuing to support. He had told me of the nightmares he would have anticipating the annual Parole Board hearings, in which an inmate has only a few minutes to present his appeal to several Board members, who do not seem to be paying any attention to him as they thumb through fat files while he pleads his case. Perhaps some of the files are not even his but are those of the next prisoner in line, and reading them now will save time. If you are asked questions about your conviction or anything negative in your rap sheet, you know immediately that parole will be delayed for at least another year because defending the past prevents you from envisioning anything positive in your future. Carlo's tales enlightened me about the kind of rage that such arbitrary indifference generates in the vast majority of prisoners who are denied parole year after year, as he was.3 However, what are the deeper lessons to be learned from such situations? Ad mire power, detest weakness. Dominate, don't negotiate. Hit first when they turn the other cheek. The golden rule is for them, not for us. Authority rules, rules are authority. These are also some of the lessons learned by boys of abusive fathers, half of whom are transformed into abusive fathers themselves, abusing their children, spouses, and parents. Perhaps half of them identify with the aggressor and per petuate his violence, while the others learn to identify with the abused and reject aggression for compassion. However, research does not help us to predict which abused kids will later become abusers and which will turn out to be compassion ate adults. Time Out for a Demonstration of Power Without Compassion I am reminded of the classic demonstration by an elementary school teacher, Jane Elliott, who taught her students the nature of prejudice and discrimination by ar bitrarily relating the eye color of children in her classroom to high or low status. When those with blue eyes were associated with privilege, they readily assumed a dominant role over their brown-eyed peers, even abusing them verbally and physically. Moreover, their newly acquired status spilled over to enhance their cognitive functioning. When they were on top, the blue-eyes improved their daily math and spelling performances (statistically significant, as I documented with Elliott's original class data). Just as dramatically, test performance of the "inferior" brown-eyed children deteriorated. However, the most brilliant aspect of her classroom demonstration with these third-grade schoolchildren from Riceville, Iowa, was the status reversal the teacher generated the next day. Mrs. Elliott told the class she had erred. In fact, the opposite was true, she said; brown eyes were better than blue eyes! Here was the chance for the brown-eyed children, who had experienced the negative im pact of being discriminated against, to show compassion now that they were on top of the heap. The new test scores reversed the superior performance of the haves and diminished the performance of the have-nots. But what about the les son of compassion? Did the newly elevated brown-eyes understand the pain of the underdog, of those less fortunate, of those in a position of inferiority that they had personally experienced one brief day earlier? There was no carryover at all! The brown-eyes gave what they got. They dom inated, they discriminated, and they abused their former blue-eyed abusers.4 Similarly, history is filled with accounts showing that many of those escaping re ligious persecution show intolerance of people of other religions once they are safe and secure in their new power domain. Back to Brown-Eyed Carlo This is a long side trip around the issue surrounding my colleague's dramatic transformation when he was put into the powerful position as head of the Parole Board. At first, he gave a truly outstanding improvisational performance, like a Charlie Parker solo. He improvised details of crimes, of the prisoners' past histo ries, on the spot, out of the blue. He did so without hesitation, with a fluid certainty. However, as time wore on, he seemed to embrace his new authority role with ever-increasing intensity and conviction. He was the head of the Stanford County Jail Parole Board, the authority whom inmates suddenly feared, to whom his peers deferred. Forgotten were the years of suffering he had endured as a brown-eyed inmate once he was granted the privileged position of seeing the world through the eyes of the all-powerful head of this Board. Carlo's statement to his colleagues at the end of this meeting showed the agony and disgust his transformation had instilled in him. He had become the oppressor. Later that night, over dinner, he confided that he had been sickened by what he had heard himself say and had felt when he was cloaked in his new role. I wondered if his reflections would cause him to show the positive effects of his acquired self-knowledge when he headed the next Parole Board meeting on Thursday. Would he show greater consideration and compassion for the new set of prisoners who would be pleading to him for parole? Or would the role remake the man? THURSDAY'S MEETING OF THE PAROLE AND DISCIPLINARY BOARD The next day brings four more prisoners before a reconstituted Parole Board. Ex cept for Carlo, all the other members of the Board are newcomers. Craig Haney, who had to leave town for urgent family business in Philadelphia, is replaced by another social psychologist, Christina Maslach, who quietly observes the pro ceedings with little apparent direct involvement—at this time. A secretary and two graduate students fill out the rest of this five-person Board. However, at the urging of the guards, in addition to considering parole requests, the Board also considers various disciplinary actions against the more serious troublemakers. Curt Banks continues in his role as sergeant-at-arms, and Warden David Jaffe also sits in to observe and comment when appropriate. Again I watch from behind the one-way viewing screen and record the proceedings for subsequent analysis on our Ampex video recorder. Another variation from yesterday is that we do not have the prisoners sit around the same table with the Board but separately in high chairs, on a pedestal, so to speak—all the better to observe them as in police detec tive interrogations. A Hunger Striker Strikes Out First up on the docket is Prisoner 416, recently admitted, who is still on a hunger strike. Curt Banks reads off the disciplinary charges that several guards have filed against him. Guard Arnett is especially angered at 416; he and the other guards are not sure what to make of him: "Here for such a short time, and he has been to tally recalcitrant, disrupting all order and our routine." The prisoner immediately agrees that they are right; he will not dispute any of the charges. He insists on securing legal representation before he consents to eat anything served him in this prison. Prescott goes after his demand for "legal aid," forcing a clarification. Prisoner 416 replies in a strange fashion: "I'm in prison, for all practical pur poses, because I signed a contract, which I'm not of legal age to sign." In other words, either we must get a lawyer to take his case and get him released, or he will continue with his hunger strike and get sick. Thus, he reasons, the prison authori ties will be forced to release him. This scrawny youngster presents much the same face to the Board that he does to the guards: he is intelligent, self-determined, and strong willed in his opin ions. However, his justification for disputing his imprisonment—that he was not of legal age to sign the research informed consent contract—seems strangely le galistic and circumstantial for a person who has typically acted from ideological principles. Despite his disheveled, gaunt appearance, there is something about 416's demeanor that does not elicit sympathy from anyone who interacts with him—neither the guards, the other prisoners, nor this board. He looks like a homeless street person who makes passersby feel more guilty than sympathetic. When Prescott asks on what charge 416 is in jail for, the prisoner responds, "There is no charge, I have not been charged. I was not arrested by the Palo Alto police." Incensed, Prescott asks if 416 is in jail by mistake, then. "I was a standby, I—" Prescott is fuming now and confused. I realize that I had not briefed him on how 416 differed from all the others, as a newly admitted standby prisoner. "What are you, anyway, a philosophy major?" Carlo takes time to light his cigarette and perhaps plan a new line of attack. "You been philosophizing since you've been in here." When one of the secretaries on today's Board recommends exercise as a form of disciplinary action and 416 complains that he has been forced to undergo too much exercise, Prescott curtly replies, "He looks like a strong fellow, I think exer cise would be ideal for him." He looks over at Curt and Jaffe to put that on their ac tion list. Finally, when asked the loaded question—Would he be willing to forfeit all the money he has earned as a prisoner if a parole were granted?—416 immedi ately and defiantly replies, "Yes, of course. Because I don't feel that the money is worth the time." Carlo has had enough of him. "Take him away." 416 then does exactly what the others before him have done like automatons; without instruction he stands up, arms outstretched to be handcuffed, head bagged, and escorted away from these proceedings. Curiously, he does not demand that the Board act now to terminate his role as a reluctant student research volunteer. He doesn't want any money, so why does he not simply say, "I quit this experiment. You must give me my clothes and belongings, and I am out of here!" This prisoner's first name is Clay, but he will not be molded easily by anyone; he stands firmly by his principles and obstinately in the strategy he has advanced. Nevertheless, he has become too embedded in his prisoner identity to do the macroanalysis that should tell him he has now been given the keys to freedom by insisting to the Parole Board that he must be allowed to quit here and now while he is physically removed from the prison venue. However, he is now carrying that venue within his head. Addicts Are Easy Game Prisoner Paul-5704, next at bat, immediately complains about how he's missing the cigarette ration that he was promised for good behavior. His disciplinary charges by the guards include "Constantly and grossly insubordinate, with flares of violence and dark mood, and constantly tries to incite the other prisoners to in subordination and general uncooperativeness." Prescott challenges his so-called good behavior, which will never get him an other cigarette again. The prisoner answers in such a barely audible voice that Board members have to ask him to speak louder. When he is told that he acts badly even when he knows it will mean punishment for other prisoners, he again mumbles, staring toward the center of the table. "We've discussed t h a t . . . well, if something happens, we're just going to fol low through with i t . . . if someone else was doing something, I'd go through pun ishment for them." A Board member interrupts, "Have you gone through punishment for any of the other prisoners?" Paul-5704 responds yes, he has suf fered for his comrades. Prescott loudly and mockingly declares, "You're a martyr, then, huh?" "Well, I guess we all a r e . . . , " 5704 says, again barely audible. "What have you got to say for yourself?" Prescott demands. 5704 responds, but again it is unintelligible. Recall that 5704, the tallest prisoner, had challenged many of the guards openly and been the insider in various escape attempts, rumors, and barricades. He was also the one who had written to his girlfriend expressing his pride at being elected head of the Stanford County Jail Prisoners' Grievance Committee. Further, it was this same 5704 who had volunteered for this experiment under false pretenses. He signed up with the intention of being a spy who was going to expose this research in articles he planned to write for several alternative, liberal, "underground" newspapers, on the assumption that this experiment was no more than a government supported project for learning how to deal with political dissi dents. Where had all that former bravado gone? Why had he suddenly become incoherent? Before us in this room sits a subdued, depressed young man. Prisoner 5704 simply stares downward, nodding answers to the questions posed by the Parole Board, never making direct eye contact. "Yes, I would be willing to give up any pay I've earned to get paroled now, sir," he answers as loudly as he can muster strength to do. (The tally is now yes from five of the six prisoners.) I wonder how that dynamic, passionate, revolutionary spirit, so admirable in this young man, could have vanished so totally in such a short time? As an aside, we later learned that it was Paul-5704 who had gotten so deeply into his prisoner role that as the first part of his escape plan he had used his long, hard, guitar-player fingernails to unscrew one of the electrical power plates from the wall. He then used that plate to help remove the doorknob on his cell. He also used those tough nails to mark on the wall of his cell the passage of days of his confinement with notches next to M/ T /W/ Th/, so far. A Puzzling, Powerful Prisoner The next parole request comes from Prisoner Jerry-5486. He is even more puz zling than those who appeared earlier. He shows an upbeat style, a sense of being able to cope quietly with whatever is coming his way. His physical robustness is in stark contrast to that of Prisoner 416 or some of the other slim prisoners, like Glenn-3401. Surely there is the sense that he will endure the full two weeks with out complaint. However, there is insincerity in his statements, and he has shown little overt support for any of his comrades in distress. In a few minutes here, 5486 manages to antagonize Prescott as much as any other prisoner has. He answers immediately that he would not be willing to give up the pay he's earned so far in exchange for parole. The guards report that 5486 does not deserve parole consideration because "he made a joke out of letter writing, and for his general non-cooperation." When asked to explain his action, Prisoner 5486 responds that "I knew it wasn't a legit imate letter . . . it didn't seem to be ..." Guard Arnett, who has been standing aside silently observing the proceedings, can't help but interrupt: "Did the correctional officers ask you to write the let ter?" 5486 responds affirmatively, as Guard Arnett continues, And you're saying that the correctional officers asked you to write a letter that was not legitimate?" 5486 backtracks: "Well, maybe I chose the wrong word..." But Arnett does not let up. He reads his report to the Board: "5486 has been on a gradual downhill slide . . . he has become something of a jokester and minor cutup." "You find that funny?" Carlo challenges him. "Everybody [in the room] was smiling. I wasn't smiling till they smiled," 5486 replies defensively. Carlo ominously interjects, "Everyone else can afford a smile—we're going home tonight." Still, he attempts to be less confrontational than the day before, and he asks a series of provocative questions: "If you were in my place, with the evidence I have, along with the report from staff, what would you do? How would you act? What would you do? What do you think is right for yourself?" The prisoner answers evasively but never fully addresses those difficult ques tions. After a few more questions from the other members of the Board, an exas perated Prescott dismisses him: "I think we've seen enough, I think we know what we need to do. I don't see any reason to waste our time." The prisoner is surprised at being dismissed so abruptly. It is apparent to him that he has created a bad impression on those he should have persuaded to sup port his cause—if not for this parole, then for the next time the Board meets. He has not acted in his best interests at this time. Curt has the guard handcuff him, place the bag over his head, and sit him on the bench in the hallway, awaiting the disposition of the next and final case before the prisoners are hauled back down stairs to resume their prison life. Sarge's Surface Tension The final inmate for the Board to evaluate is "Sarge," Prisoner 2093, who, true to type, sits upright in the high chair, chest out, head back, chin tucked in—a perfect military posture if I have ever seen one. He requests parole so that he can put his time "to more productive use," and he notes further that he has "followed all rules from Day One." Unlike most of his peers, 2093 would not give up the pay in ex change for parole. "Were I to give up the pay I have earned thus far, it would be an even greater loss of five days of my life than it would have been otherwise." He adds that the relatively small pay hardly compensates for the time he has served. Prescott goes after him for not sounding "genuine," for having thought every thing out in advance, for not being spontaneous, for using words to disguise his feelings. Sarge apologizes for giving that impression because he always means what he says and tries hard to articulate clearly what he means. That softens Carlo, who assures Sarge that he and the Board will consider his case very seri ously and then commends him for his good work in the prison. Before ending the interview, Carlo asks Sarge why he didn't request parole the first time it was offered to all prisoners. Sarge explains, "I would have re quested parole the first time only if not enough other prisoners requested it." He felt that other prisoners were having a harder time in the prison than he was, and he didn't want his request to be placed above another's. Carlo gently rebukes him for this show of shining nobility, which he thinks is a crass attempt to influence the Board's judgment. Sarge's show of surprise makes it evident that he meant what he said and was not attempting to impress the Board or anyone else. This apparently intrigues Carlo, and he aims to learn about the young man's private life. Carlo asks about Sarge's family, his girlfriend, what kind of movies he likes, whether he takes time to buy an ice cream cone—all the little things that, taken together, give someone a unique identity. Sarge replies matter-of-factly that he doesn't have a girlfriend, seldom goes to movies, and that he likes ice cream but has not been able to afford to buy a cone recently. "All I can say is that after having gone to summer quarter at Stanford and living in the back of my car, I had a little difficulty sleeping the first night because the bed was too soft here in prison, and also that I have been eating better in prison than I had for the past two months, and that I had more time to relax than I had the last two months. Thank you, sir." Wow! What a violation of expectation this young man offers us. His sense of personal pride and stocky build belie his having gone hungry all summer and not having had a bed to sleep in while he attended summer school. That the horrid liv ing conditions in our prison could be a better lifestyle for any college student comes as a shocker to us all. In one sense, Sarge seems to be the most one-dimensional, mindlessly obedi ent prisoner of all, yet he is the most logical, thoughtful, and morally consistent prisoner of the group. It occurs to me that one problem this young man might have stems from his commitment to living by abstract principles and not knowing how to live effectively with other people or how to ask others for the support he needs, financial, personal, and emotional. He seems so tightly strung by this inner resolve and his outer military posturing that no one can really get access to his feelings. He may end up having a harder life than the rest of his fellows. Contrition Doesn't Cut the Mustard Just as the Board is preparing to end this session, Curt announces that Prisoner 5486, the flippant one, wants to make an additional statement to the Board. Carlo nods okay. 5486 contritely says that he didn't express what he really wanted to say, be cause he hadn't had a chance to think about it fully. He's experienced a personal decline while in this prison, because at first he expected to go to a trial and now he's given up on his hope for justice. Guard Arnett, sitting behind him, relates a conversation they had during lunch today, in which 5486 said that his decline must have been because "he's fallen in with bad company." Carlo Prescott and the Board are obviously confused by this transaction. How does this statement promote his cause? Prescott is clearly upset at this display. He tells 5486 that if the Board were going to make any recommendations, "I would see to it personally that you were here until the last day. Nothing against you personally, but we're here to protect society. And I don't think that you can go out and do a constructive job, do the kinds of things that will make you an addition to the community. You went out side that door and you realized that you had talked to us like we were a couple of idiots, and you were dealing with cops or authority figures. You don't get along well with authority figures, do you? How do you get along with your folks? But what I'm trying to say is that you went outside the door and had a little time to think; now you're back in here trying to con us into looking at you with a differ ent view. What real social consciousness do you have? What do you think you really owe society? I want to hear something real from you." (Carlo is back in Day 1 form!) The prisoner is taken aback by this frontal assault on his character, and he scurries to make amends: "I have a new teaching job. It's a worthwhile job, I feel." Prescott is not buying his story: "That may even make you more suspect. I don't think I'd want you to teach any of my youngsters. Not with your attitude, your gross immaturity, your indifference to responsibility. You can't even handle four days of prison without making yourself a nuisance. Then you tell me that you want to do a teaching job, do something that's really a privilege. It's a privi lege to come into contact with decent people and have something to say to them. I don't know, you haven't convinced me. I just read your record for the first time, and you haven't showed me anything. Officer, take him away." Chained, bagged, and carted back down to the basement prison, the prisoner will have to put on a better show at the next parole hearing—assuming he is granted the privilege again. When a Paroled Prisoner Becomes the Chairman of the Parole Board Before we return to what has been happening down below on the Yard in our ab sence during these two Parole Board time-aways, it is instructive to note the effect that this role-playing has had on our tough chairman of this 'Adult Authority Hearing." A month later, Carlo Prescott offered a tender personal declaration of the impact this experience had on him: "Whenever I came into the experiment, I invariably left with a feeling of depression—that's exactly how authentic it was. The experiment stopped being an experiment when people began to react to various kinds of things that hap pened during the course of the experiment. I noted in prison, for example, that people who considered themselves guardshad to conduct themselves in a certain way. They had to put across certain impressions, certain attitudes. Prisoners in other ways had their certain attitudes, certain impressions that they acted out— the same thing occurred here. "I can't begin to believe that an experiment permittedm e, playing a board member, the chairman of the board—the Adult Authority Board—to say to one of the prisoners, 'How is it'—in the face of his arrogance and his defiant attitude— 'how is it that Orientals seldom come to prison, seldom find themselves in this kind of a situation? What did you do?' "It was at that particular point in the study that his whole orientation changed. He begin to react to me as an individual, he began to talk to me about his personal feelings. One man was so completely involved that he came back into the room as if he thought a second journey into the room to speak to the Adult Authority Board could result in his being paroled sooner." Carlo continues with this self-disclosure: "Well, as a former prisoner, I must admit that each time I came here, the frictions, suspicion, the antagonism ex pressed as the men got into the roles . . . made me recognize the kind of deflated impression which came about as a result of the confinement. That's exactly what it was that induced in me a deep feeling of depression, as if I were back in a prison atmosphere. The whole thing was authentic, not make-believe at all. "[The prisoners] were reacting as human beings to a situation, however improvisational, that had become part of what they were experiencing at that particular time. I imagine that as such, it reflected the kind of metamorphosis that takes place in a prisoner's thinking. After all, he is completely aware of the things that are going on in the external world—the bridge building, the birth of children—they have absolutely nothing to do with him. For the first time he is totally alienated from the rest of society—from humanity, for that matter. "His fellows, in their funk and stink and their bitterness, become his com rades, and all other things except for an occasional period when he can, as a re sult of a visit, as a result of something happening, like going to the Parole Board, there's no reason to ever identify with where you came from. There is just that time, that instant. "... I wasn't surprised, nor was it a great pleasure to find my belief confirmed that 'people become the role they enact'; that guards become symbols of authority and cannot be challenged; and that there are no rules or no rights they are obliged to grant prisoners. This happens with prison guards, and this happens with college students playing at prison guards. The prisoner, on the other hand, who is left to consider his own situation in regard to how defiant he is, how effec tive he is in keeping the experience away from him, comes face-to-face daily with his own helplessness. He has to correlate both his own hatred and the effective ness of his defiance with the reality that regardless of how heroic or how coura geous he sees himself at a certain time—he will still be counted and still be subjected to the rules and regulations of the prison."5 I think it is appropriate to end these deliberations with a similarly insightful passage from the letters of the political prisoner George Jackson, written a bit be fore Carlo's statement. Recall that his lawyer wanted me to be an expert witness in his defense in the upcoming Soledad Brothers trial; however, Jackson was killed before I could do so, one day after our study ended. It is strange indeed that a man can find anything to laugh at in here. Everyone is locked up twenty-four hours a day. They have no past, no fu ture, no goal other than the next meal. They're afraid, confused and confounded by a world they know that they did not make, that they feel they cannot change, so they make those loud noises so they won't hear what their mind is trying to tell them. They laugh to assure themselves and those around them that they are not afraid, sort of like the superstitious individual who will whistle or sing a happy number as he passes the graveyard.6 CHAPTER EIGHT Thursday's Reality Confrontations Thursday's prison is full of woe, yet we have miles to go before our exploration is complete. In the middle of the night, I awake from a terrible nightmare in which I am hospitalized in a strange town after an auto accident. I am struggling to commu nicate to the nurse that I had to go back to my work, but she cannot understand me. It is as though I were speaking in a foreign tongue. I scream out to let me go; "I have to be released." Instead, she puts me in restraints and tapes my mouth shut. In a kind of "lucid dream," where one is aware of being an actor in a dream while still dreaming, I envision that word of this incident gets back to the guards.1 They are delighted that with the "bleeding-heart-liberal" superintendent out of the way, they are now totally free to deal with their "dangerous prisoners" in any way they feel necessary to maintain law and order. That is indeed a scary thought. Imagine what might happen in that base ment dungeon if the guards could now do whatever they wanted to the prisoners. Imagine what they could do knowing there was no oversight, no one observing their secret games of domination and submission, no one to interfere with their own little "mind experiments," which they could play out as wit and whimsy dic tated. I jump off the convertible couch-bed in my upstairs office, wash, dress, and head back to the basement, glad to have survived that nightmare and to have my own freedom restored. The 2:30 A.M. count is in full swing once again. The seven weary prisoners, awakened once more by loud, shrilling whistles and billy clubs rattling the bars on their stinking, barren cells, are lined up against the wall. Guard Vandy is recit ing selected rules and then testing the prisoners' memories of them by delivering assorted punishments for memory lapses. Guard Ceros would like the whole experience to be more like a tightly run military prison, so he has the prisoners march in place repeatedly, as though they were in the Army. After a brief discussion, the two comrades decide that these young men need to be more fully disciplined and to understand the importance of making their beds in the best military fashion. The prisoners are ordered to strip their beds completely and then remake them with precision and stand by them for inspection. Naturally, as in good boot camp style, they all fail the inspection, must restrip their beds, remake their beds, refail inspection, and then repeat the inane process until the guards grow bored with that game. Guard Varish adds his cute two cents: "Okay, men, now that you have made your beds, you can sleep in them—until the next count." Remember, this is only day five of our experiment. VIOLENCE ERUPTS ON THE YARD Amid the 7 A.M. count and seemingly more carefree singing required of the pris oners, violence suddenly erupts. Prisoner Paul-5704, exhausted from lack of sleep and irritated at having been singled out for abuse on almost all shifts, strikes back. He refuses to do sit-ups as commanded. Ceros insists that the others all con tinue to do sit-ups without stopping until 5704 agrees to join in; only by his sub mission can he stop their painful exercise. Prisoner 5704 does not take the bait. In an extended interview with Curt Banks, Paul-5704 described his side of this incident and the hostility festering within him: "I've got lousy thigh muscles, and I'm not supposed to stretch them. I told them that, but they said, 'shut up and do them anyway' 'Fuck you, you little punk,' I said, while still laying on the ground. As I was getting up to be put in the Hole once again, He [Ceros] pushed me against the wall. We scuffled, pushing each other hard and yelling. I wanted to swing at him and hit him in the face, but to me that would represent fighting.... I'm a pacifist, you know, I just don't think it was in me. But I hurt my foot when we hassled, and insisted on seeing a doctor, but was put in the Hole instead. I did threaten to 'flatten' him when I got out of the Hole, so they kept me in there until all others had breakfast. When they finally let me out of solitary, I was furious and did try to strike that guard [Ceros], "It took two guards to restrain me. As they took me to a separate room for my solo breakfast, I complained about the pain in my foot and asked for a doctor. I did not let the guards examine my foot since what did they know about it? "I ate alone but did apologize to [Varnish], who was least hostile toward me. But the guy I really want to crack is 'John Wayne,' that guy from Atlanta. I'm a Buddhist, and he keeps calling me a Communist just to provoke me, and it does. I now think that the good treatment on the part of some guards, like big Landry [Geoff], is only because they were ordered to act that way."2 Guard John Landry notes in the daily log that 5704 has been the one most in trouble or "at least he was the most punished prisoner": After each episode he [5704] has shown considerable depression, but his spirit, which he calls 'the freak mentality,' continues to rise. He is one of the strongest willed prisoners. He also refused to wash lunch dishes, so I recommend giving him lousy dinners and curtailed smoking privileges— he has a heavy habit. Consider the following alternate and insightful perspective Guard Ceros had of this critical incident and of the psychology of imprisonment in general: One of the prisoners, 5704, was not cooperating at all, so I decided to put him in the Hole. By that time, it was regular routine. He reacted violently and I found that I had to defend myself, not as me, but as the guard. He hatedme as the guard. He was reacting to the uniform; I felt that was the image he placed on me. I had no choice but to defend myself as a guard. I wondered why the other guards weren't rushing to help me. Everybody was stunned. I realized then that I was as much a prisoner as they were. I was just a reaction to their feelings. They had more of a choice in their actions. I don't think we did. We were both crushed by the situation of oppressiveness, but we guards had the illusion of freedom. I did not see that at the time, or else I would have quit. We all went in as slaves to the money. The prisoners soon became slaves to us; we were still slaves to the money. I realized later that we were all slaves to something in this environment. Thinking of it as "just an experiment" meant no harm could be done with reality. That was the illusion of freedom. I knew I could quit, but I didn't, because I couldn't as a slave to something there.3 Prisoner Jim-4325 agreed about the slavish nature of his condition: "The worst thing about this experience is the super structured life and the absolute obe dience one must pay to the guards. The humiliation of being almost slaves to the guards is the worst."4 However, Guard Ceros did not let his sense of being trapped in his role inter fere with exerting the power of his position. He noted, "I enjoyed bothering them. It bothered me that 'Sarge,' 2093, was so very sheepish. I did make him polish and wax my boots seven times, and he never complained."5 In his reflections, Guard Vandy revealed the dehumanizing perception of the prisoners that had crept into his thinking about them: "Prisoners were very sheepish by Thursday, except for a brief scuffle between Ceros and 5704, which was a small incident of violence that I did not like whatsoever. I thought of them as sheep and I did not give a damn as to their condition."6 In Guard Ceros's final evaluation report, he offered a different take on the emerging sense of dehumanization by the guards of the prisoners: There were a few times when I had forgotten the prisoners were people, but I always caught myself, realized that they were people. I simply thought of them as 'prisoners' losing touch with their humanity. This happened for short periods of time, usually when I was giving orders to them. I am tired and disgusted at times, this is usually the state of my mind. Also I make an actual try of my will to dehumanize them in order to make it easy for me.7 Our staff agree that of all the guards, the one who "goes by the book" most con sistently is Varnish. He is one of the oldest guards, at twenty-four, like Arnett. Both of them are graduate students, so they should have a bit more maturity than the other guards, whose ages range from just eighteen for Ceros, Vandy, and J. Landry. Varnish's daily shift reports are the most detailed and lengthy, including ac counts of individual incidents of prisoner subordination. Yet he rarely comments on what the guards were doing and there is no sense of the psychological forces at work in any of these reports. He punishes prisoners only for rule violations and never arbitrarily. Varnish's role-playing has become so fully internalized that he is the prison guard whenever he is in this prison setting. He is not dramatic and abu sive as some others are, like Arnett and Hellmann. On the other hand, he is not trying to get the prisoners to like him, as others, such as Geoff Landry, do. He merely does his job as routinely and efficiently as possible. I see from his background information that Varnish considers himself egotistical at times, with a streak of dogmatism on the side. "There was at times a distinct tendency to minimize effort by not harassing prisoners as much as we could have, " Varnish reported. The way in which roles can come to rule not only one's emotions but also one's reason is interestingly revealed in Varnish's self-reflective analysis after the study: I started out in the experiment thinking that I would probably be able to act in a manner appropriate to the experiment, but as the experiment pro gressed, I was rather surprised to find out that the feelings I had sought to impose on myself were beginning to take over. I was actually beginning to feel like a guard and had really thought I was incapable of this kind of be havior. I was surprised—no, I was dismayed—to find out that I could really be a—uh—that I could act in a manner so absolutely unaccustomed to anything I would really dream of doing. And while I was doing it I didn't feel any regret, I didn't feel any guilt. It was only afterwards, when I began to reflect on what I had done, that this behavior began to dawn on me and I realized that this was a part of me I had not noticed before."8 Prisoner 5704 Earns More Tormenting Prisoner Paul-5704's assault on Ceros was the primary subject of talk in the guard station during the 10 A.M. transfer from the morning to the day shift, when they were taking off or putting on their uniforms to end a shift or start one. They agreed that he would need special attention and discipline since no such attack against guards could be tolerated. Prisoner 5704 was not included in the 11:30 A.M. count because he was chained to his bed in Cell 1. Guard Arnett ordered everyone else down for seventy push-ups as group punishment for 5704's insubordination. Although the prison ers were getting weaker from their minimal diet and exhausted from lack of sleep, they were nevertheless able to perform this sizable number of push-ups—which I could not do when well fed and rested. They were getting into athletic condition reluctantly and miserably. Continuing the ironic theme music from the previous day, the prisoners were made to sing, loud and clear, "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" and "Amazing Grace," mixed in with a choral round of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." Shortly after he joined his fellows for this chorus, Prisoner Paul-5704 continued his verbal in subordination, and once again he was thrown into the Hole. Screaming and curs ing at the top of his lungs, he again kicked down the wooden partition that separated the two compartments of the Hole. The guards dragged him out, hand cuffed him, chained both ankles together, and put him back into Cell 2 while they repaired the damage to the Hole. Solitary now had to have two separate cell units for whenever two prisoners had to be disciplined simultaneously. As inventively determined as real prisoners can be, 5704 somehow was able to take the hinge bolts off the door to his cell, thereby locking himself in and taunting the guards. Once again, the guards broke into his cell, and carted him back to the now-repaired Hole until he was taken to the Parole Board later that day for a disciplinary hearing. 5704's riotous actions finally break through the appearance of equanimity that Guard Arnett has carefully cultivated. As one of the older guards, a graduate student in sociology, who has tutored in three juvenile jails and who has been charged (and acquitted) for "illegal assembly" in a civil rights protest, Arnett has the most relevant experience for being a conscientious guard. He is, but without compassion for the prisoners, as he behaves with a completely professional de meanor every moment he is on the Yard. He is as precise in delivering his verbal commands as he is in his controlled physical gestures. He has become a high- status authority figure, like a TV anchorman, with his unified movements of head, neck, and shoulders and his synchronized arm-wrist-hand gestures. Delib erate in word and deed, Arnett conveys a sense of economy of involvement with the scene around him. It is as hard to imagine him being ruffled by anything, as it is to imagine anyone challenging him. I am a little surprised myself at the equanimity that I felt throughout. I felt angry only once for a slash when 5704 took the lock off his door and poked me in the stomach with my own stick (which I had just poked him with). At all other times, I felt quite relaxed. I never experienced any sense of power or elation when pushing people or ordering them about.9 In this prison setting, Arnett used his understanding of some social science research to his advantage: I was aware from my reading that boredom and other aspects of prison life can be exploited to make people feel disoriented by being impersonal, giv ing boring work, punishing all prisoners for bad behavior by individuals, demeaning perfect execution of trivial demands in exercise sessions. I was sensitive to the power of those in control of social settings and I tried to heighten alienation [of the prisoners] by using some of these techniques. I could use it only in a very limited way because I didn't want to be brutal.10 In challenging the early parole release for 5704, Arnett wrote to the Board, "I can hardly list all 5704's infractions at this time. He is constantly and grossly insubordinate, with flare ups of violence and extreme mood swings, and con stantly tries to incite the other prisoners to insubordination and general unco- operativeness. He acts badly even when he knows punishment for the other prisoners will result. He should be dealt with harshly by the discipline committee." Prisoner 416 Confronts the System with a Hunger Strike Prisoner 5704 wasn't the only disciplinary concern. The madness of this place, to which we have become accustomed over the few days since we began last Sunday, had also struck Prisoner 416 when he arrived yesterday as a replacement pris oner for first-to-be-released prisoner Doug-8612. He could not believe what he was witnessing and wanted to quit the experiment immediately. However, he was told by his cellmates that he could not quit. His cellmates passed along the false statement that Prisoner 8612 had asserted, that it was not possible to leave, that "They" would not allow anyone to leave before the time was up. I am reminded of the famous line from the song "Hotel California": "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave." Instead of challenging that false assertion, Prisoner 416 would use a passive means of escape. "I developed a plan," he later said. "I would insist on the loop hole in my hastily prepared contract. But what force beyond pleading could I exert on this system? I could rebel as Paul-5704 has. But by using legal tactics to get out, my feelings were of secondary importance, though I followed them in terms of achieving my goal. Instead, I chose to exhaust the resources of this simulation by being impossible, by refusing all rewards and accepting their punishments." (It is unlikely that 416 realized that he was adopting a strategy that organized labor has used in struggles against management, to "play by the rules," formally known as "work to rule," on every matter in order to expose inherent weaknesses in the system.11) 416 decided to go on a fast because, by refusing the food the guards offered, he would take away one source of their power over the prisoners. Looking at his skinny body, his muscle-free body, 135 pounds on a five-foot-eight frame, made me think that he already looked like a starvation victim. In some ways, Clay-416 was more powerfully impacted by his first day as a prisoner in the Stanford County Jail than anyone else was, as he told us in this personal, yet depersonalized analysis: "I began to feel that I was losing my identity. The person I call 'Clay,' the per son who put me in this place, the person who volunteered to go into this prison— 'cause it was a prison to me, it still is a prison to me—I don't look on it as an experiment or a simulation—it is a prison run by psychologists instead of run by the State. I began to feel that identity, the person I was, that decided to go to prison—was distant from me—was remote, until finally, I wasn't that. I was '416.' I was really my number, and 416 was going to have to decide what to do, and that was when I decided to fast. I decided to fast because that was the one re ward the guards gave you. They always threatened they wouldn't let you eat, but they had to give you eats. And so I stopped eating. Then I had a sort of power over something because I found the one thing they couldn't crack me on. They were going to catch shit eventually if they didn't get me to eat. And so I was sort of hu miliating them by being able to fast."12 He began by refusing to touch his lunch. Arnett reported that he overheard 416 telling his cellmates that he intended not to eat until he got the legal consul tation that he had been demanding. He said that "After about twelve hours I'll probably collapse, and then what can they do? They'll have to give in." Arnett found him nothing more than a "sassy and back talkin' " prisoner. He sees noth ing noble in this hunger strike. Here was a new prisoner embarking on a daring plan of disobedience, di rectly challenging the guards' power. His act could potentially make him a nonvio lent hero around whom the prisoners could rally, someone to rouse them from their mindlessly obedient stupor—like Mahatma Gandhi. By contrast, it is clear that the violence used by 5407 did not work in a place where the resources of power are so unbalanced in favor of the system. I was hoping that 416 would come up with another plan that would involve his cellmates and the others in communal disobedience, using a mass hunger strike as a tactic for remediation of their harsh treatment. Nevertheless, I worried that he was so internally focused that he had little awareness of the need to engage his fellows in fuller group opposition. Two More Prisoners Break Down It appeared that the problem caused by 5407 and 416 were the beginnings of a domino effect of confrontations. Prisoner 1037's mother had been right. Her son, Rich, had not looked good to her; now he did not look good to me. He had become increasingly depressed after his folks had left following visiting hours; he probably wished that they had insisted on taking him home with them. Instead of accept ing his mother's accurate appraisal of his condition, Rich probably came to be lieve that his masculinity was at stake. He wanted to prove that he could take it, "like a man." He couldn't. Just like his cellmates 8612 and 819 from the original rebellious Cell 2, 1037 displayed symptoms of extreme stress to such an extent that I had him taken to the quiet room outside the prison yard and told him that it would be best if he were paroled at this time. He was pleased and surprised at this good news. As I helped him change into his civilian clothes, he was still shaky. I told him he would get full pay for the entire experiment and that we would be in contact with him and all the other students soon to go over the results of the study, complete the final surveys, and give them their payment. Prisoner 1037 later said that the worst part of the experiment was the "time when the guards gave me the feeling that they were expressing their true inner feelings and not just the guard role they were playing. For example, there were some times during the exercise periods when we prisoners would be pushed to the point of real suffering. Some guards seemed to really enjoy our agony."13 When his parents came to get him during visiting hours, the news of 1037's imminent parole did not go down well with Prisoner 4325, who was more stressed than any of us had realized. "Big Jim," as our research team referred to 4325, seemed like a self-assured young man whose preselection assessment had indicated he was in the normal range on all measures. Nevertheless, on that after noon he abruptly broke down. "When the appearance before the Parole Board came up, I immediately became hopeful of getting released. But I fell a long way down when Rich [1037] was paroled and I was not. That one act worked its way into me and brought about an even heavier feeling of desperation. I 'broke' as a result. I learned that my emotions are much more present than I thought and realized what a great life I actually have. If prison is anything like what I went through here, I don't know how it could help anyone."14 I said the same things to him as I had said to 1037, namely, that we were going to parole him soon anyway for his good behavior, and that it was fine if he left sooner. I thanked him for his participation, told him I was sorry that it had been so tough on him, and invited him back soon to discuss what we found. I wanted to have all the students come back together to share their reactions after having had a bit of distance from this unusual experience. He gathered his be longings and left quietly after indicating that he did not need to see a psychologi cal counselor in Student Health Services. The Warden's Log noted, "4325 reacts badly and has to be released by 5:30 P.M. because of severe reactions like those displayed by 819 [Stew] and 8612 [Doug] before him." The log also adds the curious fact that there is no mention of 4325's release by any of the prisoners or by any of the guards. Gone and forgot ten. Rest in Peace. Apparently, by this time in the grueling test of endurance all that matters is who is present and accounted for—not who used to be. Out of sight is definitely out of mind. Letters Home from the Stanford Jail "Today when the prisoners were writing letters home explaining what a fine time they were having, as they have done before, prisoner 5486 [Jerry] could not get his letter right until the third attempt," reported Guard Markus. "This prisoner's behavior and respect for authority have been steadily deteriorating from the early days when he was in the model cell # 3 . Since cell realignment, 5486 has been ad versely affected by his new cellmates, and his behavior is now characterized by his new wise cracks, especially during counts. All of his behaviors have the sole pur pose to undermine prison authority." Arnett's report also singled out this formerly model prisoner as a new prob lem: "5486 has been in gradual downhill slide since being separated from 4325 and 2093 in cell # 3 . He has become something of a jokester and minor cutup. This unacceptable behavior should be rectified before leading to committing something serious." The third guard on the day shift, John Landry, was similarly upset when " 5486 made a joke out of letter writing as a sign of his general non-cooperation. I recommend, as punishment, that he be made to write 15 letters of this type." Christina Joins the Mad Hatter's Party After Thursday's Parole Board and Disciplinary Board finished their deliberations, Carlo had to return to the city for urgent business. I was glad that I did not have to take him to dinner because I wanted to be present for the early visiting hours scheduled for right after the prisoners had their dinner. I had to apologize to Mrs. Y., Prisoner 1037's mother, for my insensitive behavior the other night. However, I also wanted to have a more relaxed dinner that night with the new comer to those deliberations, Christina Maslach. Christina had recently gotten her Ph.D. in social psychology at Stanford and was about to begin her career as an assistant professor at Berkeley, one of the first women to be hired by its Psychology faculty in decades. She was a diamond in the smooth—smart, serene, and self-contained. Hardworking and committed to a ca reer as a research psychologist and educator, Christina had worked with me ear lier as a teaching assistant and a valuable research collaborator as well as an informal editor of several of my books. I imagine that I would have been in love with her even if she had not been stunningly beautiful. For a poor kid from the Bronx, this elegant "California Girl" was a dream come true. However, I had to maintain a respectful distance so that my recommendations for her employment would not be tainted by my personal involvement. Now that she had gotten one of the best jobs in the country on her own merits, we could pursue our relationship openly. I had not told her much about this prison study because she and some other colleagues and graduate students were scheduled to do a thorough evaluation of the staff, prisoners, and guards the next day, Friday, about halfway through our scheduled two weeks. I had the sense that she had not been pleased by what she had seen and heard on the afternoon of the disciplinary deliberations. It was not anything she had said that disturbed me, but her saying nothing at all. We would discuss her reactions to Carlo and that scenario at our late dinner, as well as the kind of information I hoped she could obtain from her interviews on Friday. The Priest Follows Through on His Promise of Pastoral Aid The priest, who knows that this is just a simulated prison, has already done his part to add verisimilitude to this mock prison by his seriously intense role-playing the other day. Now he is forced to follow through on his priestly promise to give aid should anyone request his assistance. Sure enough, Father McDermott calls the mother of Hubbie-7258 and tells Mrs. Whittlow that her son needs legal repre sentation if he wants to get out of the Stanford County Jail. Instead of just saying that if her son really wants out so badly, she will just take him back home with her when she sees him at the next Visitors' Night, Mrs. W. does what she is told. She calls her nephew Tim, a lawyer in the public defender's office. He in turn calls me, and we follow through on this script by agreeing to schedule his official lawyer's visit for Friday morning as one more realistic element in this experience that is growing ever more unreal. Our little drama, it would appear, is now being rewrit ten by Franz Kafka as a surreal supplement to The Trial, or perhaps by Luigi Pirandello as an update of his Il fu Mattia Pascal, or his better-known play Six Characters in Search of an Author. A Hero in the Rearview Mirror Sometimes it takes time and distance to realize the value of life's important lessons. Clay-416 might provide a counterpart of Marlon Brando's classic state ment in On the Waterfront, "I coulda been a contender." Clay-416 might have said, "I coulda been a hero." However, in the heat of the moment he was thought to be just a "troublemaker" who caused hardships to his fellows—a rebel without an obvious cause. Heroism often requires social support. We typically celebrate heroic deeds of courageous individuals, but we do not do so if their actions have tangible imme diate cost to the rest of us and we can't understand their motives. Such heroic seeds of resistance are best sown if all members of a community share a willing ness to suffer for common values and goals. We have seen such an instance, for example, in Nelson Mandela's resistance to apartheid when he was imprisoned in South Africa. Networks of people in many European nations organized escapes and hideouts for Jews to survive the Nazi Holocaust. Hunger strikes were em ployed for political purposes in the fasting to death of IRA leaders during their imprisonment in Belfast's Long Kesh prison. They and others from the Irish Na tional Liberation Army used the hunger strike to gain attention to their status as political prisoners instead of being designated as ordinary criminals.15 More re cently, hundreds of detainees being held in the U.S. military prison in Guantá- namo, Cuba, have gone on extended hunger strikes to protest the illegal and inhumane nature of their captivity and gain media attention to their cause. As for Clay-416, although he had a personal plan for effective resistance, he did not take time to share it with his cellmates or the other prisoners so that they could decide to join forces with him. Had he done so, his plan might have repre sented a unifying principle rather than being dismissed as a personal pathology. It would have become a collective challenge to the evil system rather than a disposi tional quirk. Perhaps because he came on the scene late, the other prisoners did not know him well enough or felt that he had not paid his dues as they had dur ing those first hard days and nights. In any case, he was an "outsider," as Dave, our informer (replacement for 8 6 1 2 ), had been. Though Dave had been quickly won over to the prisoners' side and aligned with their cause against the system that had hired him as its spy, not so with 4 1 6 . However, I think it was also 4 1 6 ' s introverted style that was alienating his fellows. He was used to going it alone, liv ing his life in his own complex mind and not in the realm of interpersonal connec tions. Nevertheless, his defiance had a powerful impact on the thinking of at least one other prisoner, albeit after the prison experience was over. Jerry-5486, the prisoner recently designated a "smart aleck" by the Parole Board, was clearly influenced by 4 1 6 ' s heroism in the face of harsh abuse: "I was impressed with Clay's stoic determination and wish he would have been there from the beginning. He would have had a definite effect on the events that followed." In his later reflection, 5486 added: It was interesting that when Clay-416, who was the first real example of an obstinate person who had made up his mind when he absolutely re fused to eat his sausages, people went against him. Earlier in the study, he would have been their ideal. Because a lot of people said they were going to be hard and fast and strike and all this, but when it finally came around to somebody having the guts to do that, they went against him. They wanted their own petty little comforts rather than see him hold on to his integrity. Jerry-5486 went on to note how unpleasant it was to witness the clash be tween 416 and 7258, "between Hubbie and Clay over the sausages and the girl friend." Later on, he had a better perspective on the true meaning of that confrontation, but he could not see the true nature of the event while it was un folding and he could have taken action to intervene and defuse it: I realized that everybody was so far into the whole thing that they were suffering and making others suffer as well. It was too sad to see them go through it, especially since [Hubbie] didn't realize that, if he had not got ten to see his girl, it would be 'John Wayne's' fault, not Clay's. [Hubbie] took the bait and let it tear him apart.16 Meanwhile, back in solitary confinement, Clay-416 was coping in a kind of Buddhist style that would have made Paul-5704 proud of him, had he known that Clay was using such a Zen-like tactic for mental survival. "I meditated constantly. For example, when I was refusing dinner, the guard [Burdan] has all the prisoners out of their cells trying to convince me that visi tors' day was going to be canceled and all this shit, which I calculated wouldn't happen. But I wasn't sure; I just had calculated that probability. I then continually stared at the droplet of water from the frankfurter that was glistening on my tin plate. I just stared at that droplet and focused myself first horizontally, then verti cally. Nobody was then able to bother me. I had a religious experience in the Hole."17 This scrawny kid had found inner peace through his passive resistance, tak ing control over his body and directing himself away from the guards. Clay-416 offered this moving account of how he believed that he had won the contest of personal will against institutional power: "Once I refused food before the dominant evening guard, I became content for the first time here. It pleased me to infuriate [Guard Hellmann]. Upon being thrown in the Hole for the night, I was jubilant. Jubilant because I felt all but sure that I had exhausted his resources (to be used against him). I was astonished to realize too that I had privacy in solitary confinement—it was luxurious. His pun ishment of the others did not concern me. I was gambling on the limits of the situation. I knew, I calculated, that visitors' privileges could not be removed. I pre pared myself to stay in the Hole until probably ten the next morning. In the Hole I was furthest from experiencing myself as 'Clay.' I was '416,' willing and proud even to be '416.' The number had an identity to me because 416 had found his own response to the situation. I felt no need to cling to the former manhood I had under my old name. In the Hole, there is a four-inch bar of light extending top to bottom, thrown by the crack between the closet doors. About the third hour there, I was filled with calm in regarding this bar of light. It is the most beautiful thing in the prison. I don't mean that only subjectively. It is, go look at it. When I was released around 11 P.M. and returned to a bed, I felt that I had won, that my will, so far, was stronger than the will of the situation as a whole. I slept well that night." The Sidekick Shows a Little Soul Curt Banks tells me that of all the guards the one he likes or respects least is Bur- dan because he is such a little toady, sucking up after Hellmann, living in the big guy's wake. I am feeling the same, although from a prisoner's point of view there were others who were much worse threats to their sanity and survival. One of the staff had overheard Burdan bragging that he had seduced his friend's wife last night. The three of them had been regular weekly bridge players, and although he had always been attracted to this twenty-eight-year-old mother of two children, he had never had the guts to move on her—until now. Perhaps it was his new found sense of authority that gave him the courage to deceive and cuckold his old friend. If it were true, it was another reason not to like him. Then we found in his background information that his mother escaped from Nazi Germany, so we add some positive weight back into our evaluation of this complex young man. Burdan's shift report is an amazingly accurate depiction of official correc tions staff behavior: We have a crisis in authority, this rebellious conduct [416's fasting] poten tially undermines the complete control we have over the others. I have got ten to know the idiosyncrasies of various numbers [interesting that he calls them "numbers"; a blatant deindividualization of the prisoners]; I at tempt to utilize this information only for harassment while inside the cellblock. He also points the finger at the lack of support he and the other guards were getting from our staff: "Real trouble started at dinner—we look to prison authority to find out how to handle this late revolt for the reason that we are worried about him not eating.... They are strangely absent." (We plead guilty to not providing oversight and training.) My negative view of Guard Burdan is tempered by what he did next. "I can't stand the idea of him [416] being in the Hole any longer," he says. "It seems dan gerous [since the rules limit solitary to one hour]. I argue with Dave, and then quietly put the new prisoner, 416, back in his cell." He adds, "but with a touch of malice, I order him to take the sausages to bed with him."18 A validation of this positive take on Burdan comes from a comment by Jerry- 5486, who was the only prisoner to volunteer to give up his blanket for Clay-416: "I was upset at John Wayne's ranting and raving. [Burdan] came over to my cell knowing I sympathized with Clay and said that he won't be kept in there all night. 'We'll bring him out as soon as everyone is asleep,' he whispered to me, and then went back to pretending he was a hard guy. It was as if he needed to make some honest, sincere communication in the eye of the storm."19 Not only was Jerry-5486 in 416's corner, but he also came to feel that the best thing about this whole experience was meeting Clay: "Seeing one guy who knew what he wanted and was willing to endure whatever necessary to get it. He was the only guy with anything at stake who didn't sell out, or plead, or crack up . "20 In that night's Shift Report, Burdan notes, "There is no solidarity between the remaining prisoners, with the exception of 5486 who has always demanded equal privileges for all." (I concur; that is one reason for respecting Jerry-5486 more than any of the other prisoners.) This intense, extended experience is enriching my appreciation of the com plexity of human nature because just when you think you understand someone, you realize you know only the smallest slice of their inner nature derived from a limited set of personal or mediated contacts. As I too come to respect Clay-416 for his willpower in the face of such strong opposition, I discover that he is not all Buddha. He tells us in his final interview what he thinks about the suffering his hunger strike caused the other prisoners: "If I am trying to get out and the guards create a situation where it is difficult on other people because I'm trying to get out, I don't give a shit. " His friend Jerry-5486 provides a fascinating perspective on the complex mind games that he was playing—and losing—in this prison. More and more as the experiment went on, I could justify my actions by saying "It's only a game, and I know it and I can endure it easy enough, and they can't bother my mind, so I'll go through the actions." Which was fine for me. I was enjoying things, counting my money, and planning my escape. I felt my head was pretty together and they couldn't upset me, be cause I was detached from it all, watching it happen. But I realize now that no matter how together I thought I was inside my head, my prison behav ior was often less under my control than I realized. No matter how open, friendly and helpful I was with other prisoners I was still operating as an isolated, self-centered person, being rational rather than compassionate. I got along fine in my own detached way, but now I'm aware that frequently my actions hurt others. Instead of responding to their needs, I would as sume that they were as detached as I and thereby rationalize my own self ish behavior. The best example of this was when Clay [416] was in the closet with his sausages.... Clay and I were friends, he knew I was on his side during the fasting incident, and I felt I had helped him some at the supper table when the other prisoners were trying to make him eat. But when he went in the closet and we were told to yell things and pound on the door, I did it just like everyone else. I easily justified it by saying "It's just a game. Clay knows I'm on his side. My actions don't make any difference so I'll just keep humoring the guard." Later, I realized that the yelling and pounding was really hard on Clay. There I was tormenting the guy I liked most. And justifying it by saying "I'll go through the motions but they haven't got control of my mind." When what was really important was the other guy's mind. What washe thinking? How were my actions affecting him? I was blind to the consequences of my actions, and unconsciously assign ing the responsibility for them to the guards. I had separated my mind from my actions. I probably would have done anything short of causing physical harm to a prisoner as long as I could shift the responsibility to the guards. And so now I think, maybe you can't separate mind and actions as clearly as I did during the experiment. I prided myself on how unassailable my mind was—I didn't get upset, I didn't let them control my mind. But as I look back on the things I did it seems they had quite a strong, but subtle, control over my mind.21 "WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO THOSE BOYS IS A TERRIBLE THING!" The last toilet run of Thursday night started at 10 P.M. Christina had been work ing at the library following her quiet stint earlier on the Parole and Disciplinary Board. She had come down to the prison for the first time to pick me up to drive over to the Town and Country Mall near campus for a late dinner at Stickney's Restaurant. I was in my Superintendent's Office going over some logistics for the next day's mass interviews. I saw her chatting with one of the guards, and when she finished, I motioned her in to have a seat near my desk. She later described her unusual encounter with that particular guard: In August of 1971, I had just completed my doctorate at Stanford Univer sity, where I was the office mate of Craig Haney, and was preparing to start my new job as an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Relevant background also should include mention that I had recently gotten involved romantically with Phil Zimbardo, and we were even considering the possibility of marriage. Although I had heard from Phil and other colleagues about the plans for their prison sim ulation study, I had not participated in either the preparatory work or the initial days of the actual simulation. Ordinarily I would have been more interested and maybe become involved in some way, but I was in the process of moving, and my focus was on preparing for my first teaching job. However, I agreed when Phil asked me, as a favor, to help conduct some interviews with the study participants.... When I went downstairs to the basement location of the prison . . . I then went to the other end of the hall, where the guards entered the yard; there was a room outside the yard entrance, which the guards used to rest and relax when not on duty or to change into or out of their uniforms at the start or end of their shifts. I talked to one of the guards there who was waiting to begin his shift. He was very pleasant, polite and friendly, surely a person anyone would consider a really nice guy. Later on, one of the research staff mentioned to me that I should take a look at the yard again, because the new late-night guard shift had come on, and this was the notorious "John Wayne" shift. John Wayne was the nickname for the guard who was the meanest and toughest of them all; his reputation had preceded him in various accounts I had heard. Of course, I was eager to see who he was and what he was doing that at tracted so much attention. When I looked through the observation point, I was absolutely stunned to see that their John Wayne was the "really nice guy" with whom I had chatted earlier. Only now, he was transformed into someone else. He not only moved differently, but he talked differently— with a Southern accent.... He was yelling and cursing at the prisoners as he made them go through "the count," going out of his way to be rude and belligerent. It was an amazing transformation from the person I had just spoken to—a transformation that had taken place in minutes just by step ping over the line from the outside world into that prison yard. With his military-style uniform, billy club in hand, and dark, silver-reflecting sun glasses to hide his eyes . . . this guy was an all-business, no-nonsense, really mean prison guard.22 Just then, I watched the last toilet run chain gang parading past the open door of my Superintendent's Office. As usual, their ankle chains were linked from inmate to inmate; big paper bags covered their heads, each prisoner's arm holding on to the shoulder of the one before him. A guard, big Geoff Landry, led the procession. "Chris, look at this!" I exclaimed. She looked up, then right down. "Did you see that? What do you think?" "I already saw it." And she looked away again. I was shocked by her seeming indifference. "What do you mean? Don't you understand that this is a crucible of human behavior, we are seeing things no one has witnessed before in such a situation. What is the matter with you?" Curt and Jaffe also joined me against her. She couldn't reply because she was so emotionally distressed. Tears ran down her cheeks. "I'm leaving. Forget dinner. I'm going home." I ran out after her, and we argued on the front steps of Jordan Hall, home of the Psychology Department. I challenged whether she could ever be a good researcher if she was going to get so emotional from a research procedure. I told her that dozens of people had come down to this prison and no one had reacted as she had. She was furious. She didn't care if everyone in the world thought that what I was doing was okay. It was simply wrong. Boys were suffering. As principal investigator, I was personally responsible for their suffering. They were not prisoners, not experimental subjects, but boys, young men, who were being dehuman ized and humiliated by other boys who had lost their moral compass in this situation. Her recollection of this intense confrontation is filled with gems of wisdom and compassion, but at that time, it was a slap in my face, the wake-up call from the nightmare that I had been living day and night for the past week. Christina recollects: At around 11 P.M., the prisoners were being taken to the toilet prior to going to bed. The toilet was outside the confines of the prison yard, and this had posed a problem for the researchers, who wanted the prisoners to be 'in prison' 24 hours a day (just as in a real prison). They did not want the prisoners to see people and places in the outside world, which would have broken the total environment they were trying to create. So the rou tine for the bathroom runs was to put paper bags over the prisoners' heads so they couldn't see anything, chain them together in a line, and lead them down the hall into, around, and out of a boiler room and then to the bathroom and back. It also gave the prisoners an illusion of a great dis tance between the yard and the toilet, which was in fact only in a hallway around the corner. Christina continues her recollection of that fateful night's reality confrontation: When the bathroom run took place that Thursday evening, Phil excitedly told me to look up from some report I had been reading: "Quick, quick— look at what's happening now!" I looked at the line of hooded, shuffling, chained prisoners, with guards shouting orders at them—and then quickly averted my gaze. I was overwhelmed by a chilling, sickening feel ing. 'Do you see that? Come on, look—it's amazing stuff!' I couldn't bear to look again, so I snapped back with, "I already saw it!" That led to a bit of a tirade by Phil (and other staff there) about what was the matter with me. Here was fascinating human behavior unfolding, and I, a psychologist, couldn't even look at it? They couldn't believe my reaction, which they may have taken to be a lack of interest. Their comments and teasing made me feel weak and stupid—the out-of-place woman in this male world—in addition to already feeling sick to my stomach by the sight of these sad boys so totally dehumanized. She recalls our clash and its resolution: A short while later, after we had left the prison setting, Phil asked me what 1 thought about the entire study. I'm sure he expected some sort of great intellectual discussion about the research and the events we had just wit nessed. Instead, what he got was an incredibly emotional outburst from me (I am usually a rather contained person). I was angry and frightened and in tears. I said something like, "What you are doing to those boys is a terrible thing!" What followed was a heated argument between us. That was espe cially scary for me, because Phil seemed to be so different from the man I thought I knew, someone who loves students and cares for them in ways that were already legendary at the university. He was not the same man that I had come to love, someone who is gentle and sensitive to the needs of others and surely to mine. We had never had an argument before of this intensity. Instead of being close and in tune with each other, we seemed to be on opposite sides of some great chasm. Somehow, the transformation in Phil (and in me as well) and the threat to our relationship was unexpected and shocking. I don't remember how long the fight went on, but I felt it was too long and too traumatic. What I do know is that eventually Phil acknowledged what I was say ing, apologized for his treatment of me, and realized what had been gradu ally happening to him and everyone else in the study: that they had all internalized a set of destructive prison values that distanced them from their own humanitarian values. And at that point, he owned up to his re sponsibility as creator of this prison and made the decision to call the ex periment to a halt. By then it was well past midnight, so he decided to end it the next morning, after contacting all the previously released prisoners, and calling in all the guard shifts for a full round of debriefings of guards, prisoners, and then everyone together. A great weight was lifted from him, from me, and from our personal relationship.23 YOU'RE MALE CAMELS, NOW HUMP THEM I returned to the dungeon relieved and even exhilarated by the decision to abort the mission. I couldn't wait to share the news with Curt Banks, who had done yeoman's duty servicing the video patrol at various times of the day and night, despite having a family to tend to as well. He too was delighted and told me that he was going to recommend ending the study as soon as possible after what he had witnessed while I was gone. We were sorry Craig was not here tonight to share our end-game joy. The calm demeanor displayed by Clay-416, after what should have been a stressful ordeal, has angered Hellmann. He cascades into a 1 A.M. count to end all counts. The sad, dwindling cadre of only five remaining prisoners (416, 2093, 5486, 5704, and 7258) wearily lines up against the wall to recite their numbers, rules, and songs. No matter how well they do their chores, someone is punished in various ways. They are yelled at, cursed, and made to say abusive things to each other. "Tell him he's a prick!" yells Hellman, and one prisoner turns to say that to the next. Then the sexual harassment that started to bubble up last night resumes as testosterone flows freely in every direction. Hellman shouts out to all of them, "See that hole in the ground? Now do twenty-five push-ups,fuc k ing that hole! You hear me!" One after another, the pris oners obey as Burdan shoves them down to do their duty. After a brief consultation between John Wayne and his little sidekick, Bur- dan, a new sexual game is devised. "Okay, now pay attention. You three are going to be female camels. Get over here and bend over touching your hands to the floor." (When they do, their naked butts are exposed since they are wearing no underwear beneath their smock-dresses.) Hellmann continues with obvious glee, "Now you two, you're male camels. Stand behind the female camels and hump them." Burdan giggles at this double entendre. Although their bodies never touch, the helpless prisoners are simulating sodomy by making thrusting motions of humping. They are dismissed back to their cells as the guards retreat to their quarters, clearly feeling that they have earned their night's salary. My nightmare from last night is coming true. I am glad that now I can control it by ending it all tomorrow. It is hard to imagine that such sexual humiliation could happen in only five days, when the young men all know that this is a simulated prison experiment. Moreover, initially they all recognized that the "others" were also college students like themselves. Given that they were all randomly assigned to play these con trasting roles, there were no inherent differences between the two categories. They all began the experience as seemingly good people. Those who were guards knew that but for the random flip of a coin they could have been wearing the prisoner smocks and been controlled by those they were now abusing. They also knew that the prisoners had done nothing criminally wrong to deserve their lowly status. Yet, some guards have transformed into perpetrators of evil, and other guards have become passive contributors to the evil through their inaction. Still other normal, healthy young men as prisoners have broken down under the situational pressures, while the remaining surviving prisoners have become zombie-like followers.24 The power of this situation ran swiftly and deeply through most of those on this exploratory ship of human nature. Only a few were able to resist the situational temptations to yield to power and dominance while maintaining some semblance of morality and decency. Obviously, I was not among that noble class. CHAPTER NINE Friday's Fade to Black We have so much to do to take down our prison in a matter of hours. Curt, Jaffe, and I are already exhausted from the hectic day and night we have just endured. In addition, in the middle of the night we have to decide on all the arrangements for debriefing sessions, final evaluations, and disbursement of payments and per sonal belongings, as well as cancellation of afternoon visits from colleagues who had planned to help us interview everyone connected with this study. We also have to cancel various arrangements with the cafeteria food service, return the rented cots and handcuffs to the campus police, and more. We know that we each have to do double duty, monitoring the Yard action, taking short catnaps, and laying out the final day's logistics. We will announce the end of the study immediately after the public defender's visit. It was already scheduled for the morning, and it would be an appropriate event around which to wrap up the whole experience. We decide not to tell the guards before informing the prisoners of the good news from me directly. I anticipate that the guards will be angry to learn that the study is being terminated prematurely, especially now, when they believe that they are in total control and are anticipating an easy week ahead, with some new replacements. They have learned how to be "guards." Ob viously, their learning curve has peaked. Jaffe will contact the five prisoners who had been released earlier and invite them back around noontime to share in the debriefing and get their full week's pay. I have to ask all the guard shifts either to come by at noon or to hang around until then for a "special event." Having anticipated that there were supposed to be full staff interviews by outsiders on Friday, the guards expect some new element to be added, but not this abrupt end to their jobs. If all goes as planned, there will be an hour of prisoner debriefing around one o'clock, then the same for the guards for an hour, and finally all the guards and prisoners will come together for a full encounter. While each group is engaged, the other group will complete our final evaluation forms, be paid, and have the opportunity either to keep their uniforms as souvenirs or to turn them in. If they wish, they can also take the various signs we posted in the Yard and on the Hole. We also have to arrange a big farewell lunch for everyone and make arrange ments for them all to return soon to view selected videos and discuss their reac tions from a more detached perspective. Before taking my nap on the convertible couch in my upstairs professor's office, where I have been sleeping fitfully for most of the week, I tell the morning shift guards to let the prisoners sleep through the night and to minimize any fur ther hostility against the prisoners. They shrug their shoulders and nod, as though Dad were telling them not to have fun on the playground. FRIDAY'S FINAL COUNT For the first time in a week, the prisoners have been allowed to sleep for nearly six unbroken hours. The accrued interest on their sleep debt must have been enor mous. It is hard to determine the effects on their moods and their thinking that was caused by having their sleeping and dreaming disrupted so often every night. It was probably considerable. The emotional breakdown of some of the early- released prisoners may have been amplified by their sleep disturbances. The 7:05 A.M. count lasts only ten minutes. Numbers are called out and other innocuous rituals observed. A good hot breakfast is served to the final five survivors. As might have been expected, Clay-416 refuses to eat any breakfast food, even when the other prisoners gently encourage him to do so. Despite my instructions to go easy on the prisoners, the guards go ballistic at Clay's continued insubordination. "Everyone down for fifty push-ups if 416 don't eat his breakfast. " Clay-416 does not budge but just stares down at his food plate. Vandy and Ceros try to force-feed him, stuffing food into his mouth as he spits it out. They enlist 5704 and 2093 to help them, but to no avail. Clay-416 is put back into his cell and forced to "make love" to his dinner sausages. Ceros orders him to caress them, to hug them, and then to kiss them. Clay-416 does all that. Yet he is true to his word and never eats a single bite of them. Guard Vandy is upset at 416's defiance and also at his buddy's meanspirited- ness. In his retrospective diary, Vandy said, "When 416 refused to eat I was once again angered specifically, since there was no way to force the food down his throat, even though we let some other prisoners try. Andre [Ceros] made the pris oner hug and kiss and caress a day-old sausage after being made to sleep with it. I thought this was uncalled for. I would never ever make the prisoner do this."1 What does Guard Ceros have to say about his own behavior? His retrospective diary noted, "I decided to force feed him, but he wouldn't eat. I let the food slide down his face. I didn't believe it was me doing it. I hated myself for making him eat. I hated him for not eating. I hated the reality of human behavior."2 The day shift came on at ten as usual. I told the lead guard, Arnett, to keep it cool and mellow in light of the coming legal representation. His day shift critical incident report indicated that Clay-416 was undergoing some strange changes in spite of his Zen meditation and earlier surface calm. Arnett's incident report noted: 416 is very jumpy. He jerked as I took the bag off his head for the toilet run. Had to pull him along when leading him to and from the bathroom, even though I told him I was not going to run him into anything [which the guards often did to prisoners for spite]. He was very nervous about being punished. I held his sausages when he went to the toilet. He tried to get me to give him back his sausages since another guard had ordered him to al ways have them."3 THE PUBLIC DEFENDER OF PRISONER RIGHTS AND WRONGS I meet briefly with Tim B., a local lawyer working in the public defender's office. He is curious and skeptical about this whole affair. He has reluctantly given up his valuable time only because his aunt had asked him as a personal favor to check on his cousin. I describe the main features of the study and how serious it had be come. I invite him to treat the matter exactly as he would if he had been called in to represent a group of real inmates. He agrees, and meets first with cousin Hubbie-7258 alone and then with all the prisoners. He allows us secretly to videotape the session in the same laboratory room on the first floor where the Parole Board had met. The level of formality between these two kin surprises me. There is no hint of any previous relationship, if any existed. Maybe it was an Anglo thing, but I had expected at least a hug, not a formal handshake and "It's good to see you again." Attorney Tim goes through a standard list of items in a businesslike manner. He reads from a prepared list the categories of concern, stopping after each one to elicit the prisoner's responses, notes them, usually without comment, and moves on to the next in order: Informed of rights upon arrest? Harassment by guards? Nature of any guard abuse? Under pressure, mentally distraught? Size and condition of cell? Requests that have been denied? Warden's behavior that was unacceptable? Issues about bail? Hubbie-7258 answers the questions in a good-humored way. I think he is as suming that his cousin was going through this standard routine prior to escorting him out of the jail. The prisoner tells his public defender that they have been told that there is no way for them to leave the prison, no way to break the contract. The PD reminds him that if the original contract were based on monetary return for services, by his being willing to forfeit that fee the contract would be null and void. "Yes, I told them that at the Parole Board hearing, but it did no good, I'm still here."4 In listing his complaints, Hubbie-7258 makes it a point to note that Pris oner 416's troublemaking behavior had made them all mad. The guards escort the remaining prisoners into the interview room, with bags over their heads as usual. The guards are joking as they remove the hoods. They leave, but I remain seated in the rear. The PD runs through the same set of questions as with Hubbie, inviting any of the prisoners to reply with their com plaints as appropriate. Clay-416 leads off, complaining first about the Parole Board pressuring him to plead guilty to the charges of his arrest, which he had refused to do because he was never officially charged. His fasting was, in part, a way to call attention to his illegal imprisonment given that he was being held without charges. (Again this young man continued to confound me; clearly, he was function ing at multiple, incompatible levels. He was dealing with the whole experience in purely legalistic terms, mixing an experimental services contract with prisoner's rights and corrections formalities, not to mention a certain "new age" mystical meditation.) Clay seems desperate to talk to someone who would actually listen to him. "Certain guards, who will go unnamed," he says, "misbehaved toward me up to the level of injurious behavior." He is willing to file an official complaint against them, if necessary. "Those guards also arranged for the other prisoners to be set against me by allegedly making my fasting a condition for their not getting visi tors," he nods toward Hubbie-7258, who sheepishly looks the other way. 'And I was frightened when they put me in the Hole and had the other prisoners bang against the door. Their own rule against violence was set, but I was afraid it would soon be overstepped." Sarge-2093 speaks up next, describing some of the attempts various guards made to harass him, but he is proud to report that they had been unsuccessful. He then gives a precise clinical description and demonstration of when a particular guard had ordered him to do many push-ups—with two other prisoners sitting on his back. The public defender is startled by that account, duly noting it down with a frown. Next, tall Paul-5704 complains about the guards manipulating him by using his smoking habit against him. Good guy Jerry-5486 complains at a less personal, more general level of the inadequate diet and missed meals, the exhaus tion from endless middle-of-the-night counts, the out-of-control behavior of some guards, and the lack of supervision by the senior staff. I wince as he turns to look directly at me, but he was right on target: I was guilty. When the public defender completes his note taking, he thanks them for this information, and says he would file a formal report on Monday and try to arrange for their bail. As he rises to leave, Hubbie-7258 loses it: "You can't go away and leave us here! We want to leave now with you. We can't stand another week or even weekend. I thought you were going to arrange for me, for us, to be bailed out now. Please!" Tim B. is taken aback by this sudden emotional outburst. He ex plains in a most formal way what his job entails, what its limits are, and how he could help them but is powerless to take action there and then. The five survivors appear to hit bottom at that point; their high hopes dashed by legal nonsense. Tim B.'s reactions to this unique experience, conveyed to me in a letter shortly afterward, are informative: On the Failure of the Prisoners to Demand Legal Rights . ..[A]nother possible explanation of why the prisoners failed to request legal advice is that, as white middle-class Americans, they may not have ever envisioned the possibility that they would ever be thrust into the criminal arena, where their rights would be of paramount importance. Finding themselves in that position, they were disarmed of the ability to objectively appraise the situation and act as they otherwise knew they should. On the Power of This Situation to Distort Reality . .. The classical devaluation of money compared to such things as free dom and locomotion was clearly evident (in the activities which I wit nessed). You will remember the great anticipation of release caused by my explanation of the bail offer. The reality of their imprisonment appeared to be quite penetrating even though they were intellectually aware that they were only involved in an experiment. Clearly confinement in itself seems to be painful regardless whether for legal reasons or otherwise.5 LISTEN CAREFULLY: THE EXPERIMENT IS OVER. YOU ARE FREE The public defender's words darken the prisoners' hopes. A palpable cloak of gloom prevails over the sullen inmates. The public defender shakes their limp hands in turn as he leaves the room. I ask him to wait outside for me. Then I move to the head of the table and ask the prisoners to pay attention to what I am going to say next. They hardly have sufficient motivation left to pay attention to any thing, now that their hopes for a quick dismissal have been dashed by the lawyer's officious reaction to their plight. "I have something important to tell you, so please listen carefully:The experi ment is over. You are free to leave today." There is no immediate reaction, no change in their facial expressions or body language. I have the sense that they are confused, skeptical, maybe even suspi cious, and feel that this is another test of their reactions. I continue slowly and as clearly as possible, "I and the rest of the research staff have decided to termi nate the experiment as of this moment. The study is officially over and the Stan ford County Jail is closed. We all thank you for your important role in this study, and—" Cheers replace the gloom. Hugs, slaps on backs, and wide smiles break through on those all-too-long-grim faces. Euphoria reverberates in Jordan Hall. It is a joyful moment for me as well to be able to liberate these survivors from their imprisonment and to give up my role as prison superintendent once and for all. OLD POWER FAILURE, NEW POWER FOUND There are few moments in my life that have given me more personal pleasure than being able to say those few words of liberation and to share in that total ela tion. I was overcome by the aphrodisiac of positive power, of being able to do something, to say something, that had such an unconditionally joyful impact on other people. Then and there I vowed to use whatever power that I had for good and against evil, to promote what is best in people, to work to free people from their self-imposed prisons, and to work against systems that pervert the promise of human happiness and justice. The negative power on which I had been running for the past week, as super intendent of this mock prison, had blinded me to the reality of the destructive impact of the System that I was sustaining. Moreover, the myopic focus of a prin cipal research investigator similarly distorted my judgment about the need to ter minate the experiment much earlier, perhaps as soon as the second normal, healthy participant suffered an emotional breakdown. While I was focused on the abstract conceptual issue, the power of the behavioral situation versus the power of individual dispositions, I had missed seeing the all-encompassing power of the System that I had helped create and sustain. Yes, indeed, Christina Maslach, it was terrible what I was allowing to be done to those innocent boys, not through any direct abuse but through my failure to stop abuse and my support of a system of arbitrary rules, regulations, and procedures that facilitated abuse. I was the "Iceman" in that hot house of inhumanity. The System includes the Situation, but it is more enduring, more widespread, involving extensive networks of people, their expectations, norms, policies, and, perhaps, laws. Over time, Systems come to have a historical foundation and some times also a political and economic power structure that governs and directs the behavior of many people within its sphere of influence. Systems are the engines that run situations that create behavioral contexts that influence the human ac tion of those under their control. At some point, the System may become an autonomous entity, independent of those who initially started it or even of those in apparent authority within its power structure. Each System comes to develop a culture of its own, as many Systems collectively come to contribute to the culture of a society. While the Situation surely brought out the worst in many of these student volunteers, transforming some into perpetrators of evil and others into pathologi cal victims, I was even more fully transformed by the System of domination. The others were kids, young men, without much real experience. I was a seasoned re searcher, a mature adult, and a "street-smart" grown-up, still filled with my Bronx-boy acumen in sizing up situations and figuring out action-scenario to sur vive in the ghetto. However, in the past week I had gradually morphed into a Prison Authority Figure. I walked and talked like one. Everyone around me responded to me as though I were one. Therefore, I became one ofthem. The very nexus of that authority figure is one that I have opposed, even detested, all my life—the high- status, authoritarian, overbearing boss man. Yet I had become that abstraction in the flesh. I could ease my conscience by noting that one of my principal activities as the good, kindly superintendent was restraining the overeager guards from committing physical violence. That restraint merely allowed them to divert their energies into more ingenious psychological abuses of the suffering prisoners. It was surely my mistake to embrace the dual roles of researcher and super intendent because their different, sometimes conflicting, agendas created identity confusion in me. At the same time, those dual roles also compounded my power, which in turn influenced the many "outsiders" who came into our setting but did not challenge the System—parents, friends, colleagues, police, the priest, the media, and the lawyer. It is evident that one does not appreciate the power of Situations to transform one's thinking, feeling, and action when caught in its grip. A person in the claws of the System just goes along, doing what emerges as the natural way to respond at that time in that place. If you were placed in a strange and novel cruel Situation within a powerful System, you would probably not emerge as the same person who entered that cru cible of human nature. You would not recognize your familiar image if it were held next to the mirror image of what you had become. We all want to believe in our inner power, our sense of personal agency, to resist external situational forces of the kinds operating in this Stanford Prison Experiment. For some, that belief is valid. They are usually the minority, the rare birds, those who I will designate as heroic later in our journey. For many, that belief of personal power to resist powerful situational and systemic forces is little more than a reassuring illusion of invulnerability. Paradoxically, maintaining that illusion only serves to make one more vulnerable to manipulation by failing to be sufficiently vigilant against at tempts of undesired influence subtly practiced on them. ALL HANDS ON DECK FOR DEBRIEFING It was evident that we had to use the short but vital debriefing time for several purposes. First, we needed to allow all the participants to express openly their emotions and reactions to this unique experience within a nonthreatening situa tion.6 Next, it was important for me to make clear to both the prisoners and the guards that any extreme behavior they had displayed was diagnostic of the power of the situation and not diagnostic of any personal pathology in them. They had to be reminded that they had all been chosen precisely because they were normal and healthy to begin with. They had not brought any kind of personal defects into this prison setting; the setting had brought out the extremes in them that we all had witnessed. They were not the proverbial "bad apples"—rather, it was the "bad barrel" of the Stanford prison that was implicated in the transformations that had been demonstrated so vividly. Finally, it was crucial to use this opportunity as a time for moral reeducation. The debriefing was a means of exploring the moral choices that had been available to each of the participants and how they had dealt with them. We discussed what the guards could have done differently to be less abusive to the prisoners and what the prisoners could have done to deflect their abuse. I made it clear that I felt personally responsible for not having inter vened a number of times during the study when the abuse was extreme. I had tried to contain physical aggression, but I had not acted to modify or stop the other forms of humiliation when I should have. I was guilty of the sin of omission—the evil of inaction—of not providing adequate oversight and surveillance when it was required. The Ex-Cons Vent The former prisoners displayed a curious mixture of relief and resentment. They were all pleased that the nightmare was finally over. Those who had survived the week did not show any overt pride in their accomplishment in the face of their peers who had been released early. They knew that at times they had been zombie-like in their mindless compliance, obeying absurd orders and totally con forming in chants against Prisoner Stewart-819, as well as engaging in hostile ac tions against Clay-416 and ridiculing Tom-2093, our most moral prisoner, "Sarge." The five prisoners released early showed no negative signs of the emotional overload they had suffered. This was in part because they had a base level of sta bility and normality to which to return and in part because the source of their dis tress was centered on such an atypical setting, the basement jail, and its strange happenings. Being divested of their strange uniform and other prison attire had also helped detach them from that sordid situation. For the prisoners, the main issue was coping with the shame inherent in the submissive role they had played. They needed to establish a sense of personal dignity, to rise above the constraints of their submissive position that had been externally imposed on them. However, Doug-8612, the first to be arrested and first to be released because of his deteriorating mental condition, was still angry with me in particular for having created a situation in which he lost control over his behavior and mind. Indeed, he had thought about leading a break-in with his friends to free the pris oners and had, in fact, come back to Jordan Hall the day after he was released to prepare for it. Fortunately, he had decided against that action for several reasons. He was amused to learn how seriously we had taken the rumor of his liberation plans and doubly pleased to learn of the lengths to which we, and especially I, had gone to safeguard our institution from his assault. As expected, the newly freed former inmates railed against the guards, who they felt had gone far beyond the demands of their role to be creatively abusive to them or to single them out for particular abuse. Tops on their negative hit parade were Hellmann, Arnett, and Burdan, followed by Varnish and Ceros as less consis tently "evil." However, they were as quick to point out those guards whom they saw as "good guards," who had done little favors for them or who had never been so fully immersed in their role that they forgot that the prisoners were human beings. In this category, the two standouts were Geoff Landry and Markus. Geoff had done small favors for them, constantly distanced himself from the abusive actions of his night shift crewmates, and even stopped wearing his guard's sunglasses and military shirt. He even told us later that he had thought about asking to become a prisoner because he hated to be part of a system that was grinding other people down so badly. Markus was not as obviously "wired" into the prisoners' suffering, but we learned that on a few early occasions he had brought in a gift of fresh fruit to sup plement the prisoners' meager meals. After the warden had admonished him for not being sufficiently engaged during his shift, Markus, who had stayed on the sidelines during the prisoner revolt, began to yell at the prisoners and to issue scathing parole reports against them. As an aside, Markus's handwriting is quite beautiful, almost like calligraphy, so he showed it off a bit, using it to denounce the prisoners' parole requests. He is someone who loves the outdoors, hiking, camping, and yoga; therefore, he especially hated to be cooped up in our dungeon. Between the "bad" and the "good" guards were those who had gone "by the book," done their job, played the role, and punished infractions but were rarely personally abusive toward individual prisoners. Here we find Varnish, the stand by guards Morison and Peters, and, at times, the younger Landry brother. The ini tial aloofness and distancing himself from the Yard action that Varnish showed may in part have been due to his shyness, as revealed in his background informa tion statement of "having few close friends." John Landry played a vacillating role, at times as tough sidekick to Arnett and always as the one attacking rebellious prisoners with the skin-chilling, fire extinguisher carbon dioxide spray. At other times, he went by the book, and most prisoners reported that they liked him. John, a mature eighteen-year-old, was rather ruggedly handsome, and aspired to write fiction, live on a California beach, and continue dating a lot. One mode of inaction that characterized the "good guards" was their reluc tance to challenge the abusive actions of the "bad guards" on their shift. Not only did they never face up to them while on the Yard, but neither Geoff Landry nor Markus ever did so in private when they were in the guard quarters, as far as we were able to determine. Later on we will consider whether their failure to inter vene as bystanders to abuse constituted an "evil of inaction." One of the consistently rebellious prisoners, Paul-5704, reported this reac tion upon discovering that the experiment was over: When we were notified the experiment was over, I felt a wave of relief and a wave of melancholy break inside of me at once. I was really glad the study was over, but also would have been much more happy that it lasted 2 weeks. The money is the only reason I was in the experiment. All the same, the feeling that I was glad to get out won, and I couldn't stop smiling till I got to Berkeley. Once I was there for a few hours, I forgot the whole thing and wouldn't talk to anybody about it.7 You will recall that this Paul was the prisoner who was proud to be the head of the Stanford County Jail Prisoners' Grievance Committee and the one who had also planned to write an exposé of the study for several alternative newspapers in Berkeley revealing how government-supported research was focused on ways in which to deal with student dissidents. His plan was totally forgotten; it never happened. The Ex-Guards Resent In the second hour of debriefing, the former guards presented a quite different group portrait. While a few of them, the "good guards" in the prisoner evalua tions, were also glad that the ordeal was over, most were distressed to see the study terminated prematurely. Some focused on the easy money they had been antici pating for another week's work now that they had the situation clearly under their control. (They ignored the continuing problems posed by Clay-416's fast and Sarge's gaining the moral upper hand in his confrontations with Hellmann.) Some guards were ready to apologize openly for having gone too far, for fully en joying their power. Others felt justified in what they had done, seeing their actions as necessary to fulfill the role they had been given. My main problem in dealing with the guards was to help them recognize that they should be experiencing some guilt since they had made others suffer, despite their understanding of the demands of the role they were playing. I made clear my strong guilt for failing to intervene more often, which had thereby given them implicit permission to go to the extremes they did. They might have avoided their abuses had they had better top-down surveillance. It was easy for most guards to point to the prisoner rebellion on Day 2 as the turning point in their perception of the prisoners, who suddenly appeared to them as "dangerous" and needing to be suppressed. They also resented the nega tive personal references and cursing that some prisoners made to them during the rebellion, which they considered demeaning and which elicited their retaliation in kind. A difficult element of the debriefing was allowing the guards to explain why they had done what they did, without sanctioning their justifications, for those were simply excuses for abusive, hostile, and even sadistic behavior. The end of the experiment also meant the end of enjoying having all that newfound guard power at their command. As Guard Burdan noted in his diary, "When Phil con fides in me that the experiment was going to be over, I feel elated, but shocked to find some other guards disappointed somewhat because of the loss of money, but somewhat because they were enjoying themselves."8 A Final Mixing of the Categories In the third hour of debriefing a lot of nervous laughter filled the laboratory room when we brought in the former prisoners to meet their captors, indistinguishable in their civilian clothes. Without their uniforms, numbers, and distinctive acces sories, they were interchangeable, hard even for me to identify, having gotten so used to seeing them in their prison garb. (Remember, in 1971 there was hair everywhere, shoulder-length hair and long sideburns on most of the students in both categories, some of whom had full mustaches as well.) The joint session was, in the words of one former prisoner, "stiffly polite," compared to the more relaxed and friendly prisoners' session. As each was scop ing out the others, one prisoner asked whether some recruits had been selected to be guards because they were taller. Jerry-5486 said, "I had the feeling somewhere along the study that the guards were bigger than the prisoners, and I wonder if the average height of the guards is higher than the average height of the prison ers. I don't know if that's true or not or if that was my perception because of the uniforms." Before I answered "No," I asked all the students to line up in order of their height, from tallest to shortest. There was an almost perfect height match between the guards on one side and the prisoners on the other. What became evi dent is that the prisoners had come to perceive the guards as taller than they ac tually were, as though their guard power provided them with a two-inch shoe lift. There were not any direct confrontations between abused prisoners and abusing guards, as I had anticipated there might be. In part, this was because such personal challenges would have been awkward in a group of more than twenty people. It is likely, however, that what remained of the strong emotions felt by some of the former prisoners had to be consciously suppressed now that the power grid had been deactivated. It also helped that a few of the guards openly apologized for submerging themselves too deeply into their role and taking it too seriously. Their apologies eased the tension and stood as proxy for the tougher guards who did not apologize openly, like Hellmann. At this debriefing session, former Tough Guard Arnett, our sociology gradu ate student, recounted two events that had impressed him: One was Zimbardo's observation of "prisoners' " immersion in their in mate roles . . . expressed by people staying inmates even when they said they'd give up their payment if they could be released [paroled]. The other impression is the seeming inability of former "prisoners" at the meeting to believe that "John Wayne" and I, and perhaps other guards (I felt that we were the two most disliked guards) had been completely acting in our roles. Some or many "prisoners" seemed to feel that we were actually sadistic or extremely authoritarian people and that our professions of act ing were cover-ups, to hide the real nature of our behavior from them, or ourselves, or both. I am absolutely sure that for myself at least, this wasnot the case.9 One psychological observation that I offered was about the lack of humor in our prison and the failure to use humor to defuse tension or even to bring some reality to an unreal situation. For example, guards who were not pleased with the extreme behavior of their shift mates could have made a joke at their expense in guard quarters, saying that they should be getting double pay for overacting their role. Or the prisoners might have used humor to pull themselves out of the unreal basement jail by asking the guards what this place had been used for before it be came a jail: a pigsty? Or a frat house, maybe? Humor breaks through the preten sions of person and place. However, in the past week there had been none to be found in this sad place. Before we adjourned, I asked them all to be sure they had completed their final evaluations of the experience they had undergone and to complete some other forms that Curt Banks had available. I also invited them to write a short ret rospective diary of the events that stood out in their memory during the following month. They would get a fee for doing so. Finally, they would all be invited back in a few weeks for a "Class of 1971" reunion to review some of the data we had gathered. A slide show and video clips would be available. It should be added that I maintained contact with many of the participants over a number of years, all of them through correspondence whenever there was a publication or media show of the study. In addition, some of them participated in various television programs that featured our study for decades after this expe rience, a few even to this day. We will discuss the aftereffects of this experience on them later on. What Does It Mean to Be a Prisoner or a Guard? Before we turn in the next chapter to examining some of the objective data we col lected over the six days of study and to reflect on the serious ethical issues raised by the experiment, I think it would be useful to review some of the insights we gathered from a selection of our participants. On Being in the Role of Prisoner Clay-416: "A good prisoner is one who knows how to strategically unify himself with other prisoners without getting put out of action himself. My cellmate, Jerry [5486], is a good prisoner. There are always bound to be some prisoners strug gling to get out and others who are not at that point. Those who are not strug gling at the time should learn to protect their interests without being a real obstacle to those who are struggling. A bad prisoner is one who cannot do this, who is only out for himself."10 ]erry-5486: "The most apparent thing that I noticed was how most of the people in this study derive their sense of identity and well-being from their imme diate surroundings rather than from within themselves, and that's why they broke down—just couldn't stand the pressure—they had nothing within them to hold up against all of this."11 Paul-5704:"The way we had to degrade ourselves really brought me down and that's why we all got docile towards the end of the experiment. I gave up being a reactionary because I could see nothing was being changed by my attitude and behavior. After Stew and Rich [819 and 1037] left, I found myself thinking that I couldn't change everything that needed changing myself . . . that's another rea son I settled down after they left, to accomplish what I wanted I would have needed others to work with me. I tried to talk to the other prisoners about a strike or something, but they wanted no part of it because of the punishment they had received for the first one."12 Guard Arnett: "I was profoundly surprised and impressed by the reactions of most of the prisoners to the experimental situation . . . particularly the individual breakdowns which did occur, and the impending ones which I feel surely would have happened had the experiment not been terminated when it was."15 Doug-8612: "The material conditions, like the guards, the cells, and such stuff, that didn't matter to me—like when I was nude and in chains, that never bothered me. It was the head part, the psychological part that was the worst. Knowing that I couldn't get out if I wanted . . . I didn't like not being able to go to the bathroom when I wanted to. . . . It's not having the choice that's the tearing apart thing."14 Substitute Prisoner Dave-"8612"—our spy, who knew that he was sent into our jail for only one day to find out about the nature of the escape plans—reveals how quickly and totally one can move into the role of prisoner: "The roles were infesting everyone from the lowliest prisoner to the warden himself." He very quickly identified himself with the prisoners, and in only a single day the simu lated imprisonment had an enormous impact on Dave: I at times felt some guilt at being sent in to fink on these great guys— I was somewhat relieved that there was really nothing to tell about the escape.... And when the opportunity to fink did come up—I knew where the handcuff key was after a while—I didn't tell.... I fell asleep that night feeling dirty, guilty, scared. When we were taken to the boiler room (in an ticipation of the break in) I had taken off my foot cuff and seriously con sidered trying to escape (alone I might add) but I did not for fear of getting caught.... The experience of one full day as a prisoner had aroused suffi cient anxiety to keep me away from the prison for the rest of the week. Even when I returned for the "debriefing" session, I was still feeling ex tremely anxious—I was not eating very much, felt mildly nauseous all the time, and was more nervous than I can ever remember being. The entire experience was so upsetting to me that I was unable to bring myself to dis cuss my experiences in depth with anyone—even my wife.15 I should add that we later discovered that the handcuff keys had been stolen from one of the guards by a prisoner. After the incident with the Wednesday- night transfer of all the prisoners up to the fifth-floor storage room, when they were returned to the Yard at 12:30 A.M., two of the prisoners had been cuffed to gether to prevent their trying to escape. Without the keys to unlock them, I had to call the Stanford Police to remove the cuffs, an embarrassment, to say the least. One of the prisoners had thrown the key into a heating vent. David knew this and never shared that information with any of the staff. On the Power of the Guard Role Guard Geoff Landry: "It's almost like a prison that you create yourself—you get into it, and it's just that it becomes the definitions you make of yourself, almost become walls, and you want to break out, and you want to be able to tell every one that, 'this isn't really Me at all, and I'm a person who wants to get out and show that I'm free and I do have my own will, and I'm not the sadistic type of per son that enjoys this type of thing."16 Guard Varnish: "This experience was worthwhile for me, absolutely. The idea that two roughly identical groups of college students each in only a week's time evolved into two totally disparate social groups with one group having and utiliz ing total power over the other to their detriment is chilling. "I was surprised at myself.... I made them call each other names and clean out toilets with their bare hands. I practically considered the prisoners 'cattle,' and I kept thinking I have to watch out for them in case they try something."17 Guard Vandy: "My enjoyment in harassing and punishing prisoners was quite unnatural for me because I tend to think of myself as being sympathetic to the in jured, especially animals. I think that it was an outgrowth from my total freedom to rule the prisoners, I began to abuse my authority."18 (An interesting carryover, or carryout, of this newfound guard power is re vealed in Warden Jaffe's log. Vandy had reported to the others on his shift "that he had caught himself bossing his mother around at home.") Guard Arnett: "Being superficially tough came easily to me. For one thing, I am an authoritarian person in some ways (even though I strongly dislike the trait in myself and others). Further, I felt that the experiment was important and my being 'guard-like' was part of finding out how people react to real oppression.... The main influence on my behavior was the feeling, even though vague, that real prison is brutal in that it is dehumanizing. I tried to be that within the constraints of my detachment and controlled commitment. . . . First, I tried to avoid ever being personal or friendly. . . . I tried to be neutral and business like. Also, I was aware from my readings that the boredom and other aspects of prison life can be exploited to make people feel disoriented by being impersonal; giving boring work; punishing all prisoners for 'bad' behavior by individuals; demanding per fect execution of trivial commands in exercise and at other times; speaking harshly and mechanically during exercise sessions... within a social setting and so very sensitive to those in control of that setting, and I tried to heighten prisoner alienation by using some of those techniques. I could do this in only a limited way, because I didn't want to be brutal."19 On Good and Bad Guards Paul-5704: "I was pleased with John and Geoff [Landry]. They didn't really get into the guard thing as much as the others. They always remained human beings even when giving punishment to someone. I was surprised that the guards in gen eral accepted their roles as much as they did after being able to go home each day or night."20 Guard John Landry: 'After I talked to the other prisoners, they told me I was a good guard and thanks for being that way. I knew inside I was a shit. Curt [Banks] looked at me and I knew he knew. I knew also that while I was good and just to the prisoners, I failed myself. I let cruelty happen and did nothing except feel guilty and be a nice guy. I honestly didn't think I could do anything. I didn't even try. I did what most people do. I sat in the guard's station and tried to forget about the prisoners."21 An even more remarkable testimony to the power of this simulated prison ex perience and its impact on one of the guards whom prisoners saw as the most fair and just, Geoff Landry, the big brother of John Landry, occurred in an audio inter view at the end of the study. He surprised us by indicating that he had been think ing of switching roles. Guard Geoff Landry: "The experience became more than just participating in the experiment. What I mean to say is that if this was an experiment, the results and products were almost too real. When a prisoner gives you a glassy stare, and mumbles inaudibly, you just almost have to perceive the worst. It's almost be cause you fear that the worst will happen. It's almost as if I accepted it would hap pen, and the slightest indication of anxiety and breakdown is the beginning of the worst possible effects. Specifically, the experience became more than just an experiment when 1037 started acting as though he was breaking down. At this time I was afraid and apprehensive and thought of quitting. And I also was thinking of asking to become a prisoner. I felt as though I didn't want to become part of the machine that beats down on other men and forces them to conform and con tinually harasses them. I almost wished that I was being harassed than having to be the harasser."22 In this context, it is interesting to note that on Wednesday night, this guard had reported to the Warden that his shirt was too tight and was irritating his skin, so he took it off. Obviously, since he had selected it, had tried it on for fit the day be fore we began, and had worn it for four days with no complaints, his problem was more mental than material. We arranged for him to get a larger size, which he put on reluctantly. He also kept taking off his sunglasses and not remembering where he had put them when the staff asked why he was not following standard guard protocol. Guard Ceros: "I hated the whole fucking experiment. I walked out the door when the experiment was over. It was too real for me."23 On the Quiet Rage of Guard Sadism Doug-8612,in an interview he did later for a student-directed film on our study, eloquently compared the Stanford Prison Experiment with real prisons he had come to know as a staff member working in a California prison: "The Stanford Prison was a very benign prison situation, and it still caused the guards to become sadistic, prisoners to become hysterical, other prisoners to break out in hives. Here you have a benign situation, and it didn't work. It pro moted everything a regular prison promotes. The guard role promotes sadism. The prisoner role promotes confusion and shame. Anybody can be a guard. It's harder to be on guard against the impulse to be sadistic. It's a quiet rage, malevo lence, you can keep down but there's nowhere for it to go; it comes out sideways, sadistically. I think you do have more control as a prisoner. Everybody needs to [experience being] a prisoner. There are real prisoners I have met in jail who are people of exceptional dignity, who did not put down the guards, who were always respectful of the guards, who did not create in the guards a sadistic impulse, who could rise above the shame of the role. They knew how to preserve their dignity in that situation."24 On the Nature of Prisons Clay-416: "The guards are as locked in as you are as prisoners. They just have the run of the cellblock, but they have a locked door behind them which they can't open, and so really you're all together and what you create, you create together. Prisoners have no society of their own and the guards don't have any society of their own. It's one thing and it's hideous."25 Guard Ceros: "[When] a prisoner reacted violently toward me, I found that I had to defend myself, not as me but as me the guard. ... He hated me as the guard. He was reacting to the uniform. I had no choice but to defend myself as a guard. It shocked me. ... I realized that I was just as much a prisoner as they were. I was just a reaction to their feelings.. .. We were both crushed by the op pressiveness, but we, the guards, had an illusion of freedom. That's just what it was, an illusion. . . . We all went in slaves to the money. The prisoners soon be came slaves to us ... " 26As Bob Dylan sings in his song "George Jackson," some times the world seems like one big prison yard: Some of us are prisoners, The rest of us are guards. ON CHARACTER TRANSFORMATION IN SIX DAYS Reviewing some of the statements made before the start of the experiment and then again in our various daily records, we can see some fundamental transitions taking place in the mentality of the guards. A case in point is that of Guard Chuck Burdan, in his own words before, during, and after this experience. Prior to the Experiment: "As I am a pacifist and non-aggressive individual, I cannot see a time when I might guard and/or maltreat other living things. I hope that I will be chosen as a prisoner rather than a guard. As an anti-establishment person continually involved in non-conforming political and social behavior, I can foresee a time when I may have to fill the role of a prisoner—and I am curious to see my capabilities in that direction." After Guard Orientation Meeting: "Buying uniforms at the end of the meeting confirms the game-like atmosphere of this thing. I doubt whether many of us share the expectations of 'seriousness' that the experimenters seem to have. I am feeling a certain amount of relief at being only an alternate." First Day: "My main fear at the outset of the experiment was that prisoners would see me as a real bastard, as a guard type, as all the things I am not and not the way I envision myself.... One of the reasons I have long hair is I don't want people to envision me in a manner that I am n o t.... Feel sure that the prisoners will make fun of my appearance and evolve my first basic strategy—mainly not to smile at anything they say or do which would be admitting it's all only a game. I stay outside the cage (while Hellmann and the tall blonde guard finish serv ing dinner, they seem much more self-assured in their roles than I feel). As I'm bracing myself to enter, I check my sunglasses, pick up my club—which pro vides a certain power and security—and walk in. I set my mouth rigidly into a semi scowl, determined to hold it there no matter what is said. At cell 3 I stop and setting my voice hard and low say to #5486, 'What are you smiling at?' 'Nothing, Mr. Correctional Officer.' 'Well see that you don't.' As I walk off I feel stupid." Second Day: "Walking from my car I suddenly wanted people to notice my uniform, 'hey look what I'm doing'. . . . 5704 asked for a cigarette and I ignored him—because I am a non-smoker and could not empathize.... Meanwhile since I was feeling empathetic towards 1037, I determined NOT to talk with him. Later on, I am getting into the habit of hitting walls, chairs and bars [with Billy club] to show my power.... After we had Count and Lights Out [Guard Hellmann] and I held a loud conversation about going home to our girlfriends and what we were going to do to them (to irritate the prisoners)." Third Day (Preparing for the first Visiting Night): 'After warning the prisoners not to make any complaints unless they wanted the visit terminated fast, we fi nally brought in the first parents. I made sure I was one of the guards on the yard, because this was my first chance for the type of manipulative power that I really like—being a very noticed figure with almost complete control over what is said or not. While the parents and prisoners sat in chairs, I sat on the end of the table dangling my feet and contradicting anything I felt like. This was the first part of the experiment I was really enjoying. Prisoner 819 is being obnoxious and bears watching.... [Hellmann] and I both admire and dislike. As a guard (actor) he is fantastic, really getting into the sadism of the thing and this bugs me." Fourth Day: "The psychologist [Craig Haney] rebukes me for handcuffing and blindfolding a prisoner before leaving the [counseling] office, and I resentfully reply that it is both necessary security and my business anyway.... At home I was having more and more trouble describing the reality of the situation." Fifth Day: "I harass 'Sarge' who continues to stubbornly over-respond to all commands. I have singled him out for special abuse both because he begs for it and because I simply don't like him. The real trouble starts at dinner. The new prisoner [416] refuses to eat his sausages. We throw him into the Hole ordering him to hold sausages in each hand. We have a crisis of authority; this rebellious conduct potentially undermines the complete control we have over the others. We decide to play upon prisoner solidarity and tell the new one that all the others will be deprived of visitors if he does not eat his dinner. I walk by and slam my stick into the Hole door.... I am very angry at this prisoner for causing discomfort and trouble for the others. I decided to force feed him, but he wouldn't eat. I let the food slide down his face. I didn't believe it was me doing it. I hated myself for making him eat but I hated him more for not eating." Sixth Day: "The experiment is over. I feel elated but am shocked to find some other guards disappointed somewhat because of the loss of money and some because they are enjoying themselves. . . . Talking during the detoxification ses sion was very difficult; everything seems strained and uncomfortable.... I get on my bike and ride home through the sunshine. It feels damn good to be out of there." Weeks later: "The absolute cruelty of this event (Hellmann's decision to leave 416 in the Hole all night) does not hit me until weeks later, but it must have hit Phil [Zimbardo] hard along with many other things at this point [that he decided to end the study].27 Another curious character transformation of someone only tangentially as sociated with our study is found among "additional anecdotes" in the Warden's Log. Recall my serious psychologist colleague who challenged me in the midst of my frantic efforts to deceive the anticipated intruders by alleging the study had been terminated. He demanded to know, "What is the independent variable?" Jaffe's notes indicate that "Dr. B. visited on Tuesday night when the prisoners had been moved to the fifth floor closet. He and his wife went upstairs to see the prisoners. Mrs. B. passed out cupcakes, while Dr. B. made at least two comments ridiculing the prisoners, one concerning their manner of dress, and the other concerning the stench of the place. This pattern of 'getting into the act' occurred with almost every outside visitor." While his wife gave the participants some "tea and sympathy," my usually re served colleague unexpectedly treated these students in a dehumanized way that likely made them feel shamed. On Hellmann's "Little Experiments" Let's look back at the Volunteer Background Form that Hellmann completed a week before the start of the experiment in order to get a sense of what he was like in his preguard status. I was amazed to learn that he was only an eighteen-year- old sophomore student, among our youngest participants. His counterpart, Ar- nett, was one of the oldest. Hellmann came from a middle-class academic family, the youngest sibling of four older sisters and a brother. At six feet two and 175 pounds, with green eyes and blond hair, he was an imposing figure. This young man identified himself as a musician and "a scientist at heart." His self-description indicated, "I live a natural life and love music and food and other people." He added, "I have a great love for my fellow human beings." In response to the question "What do people like most about you?" Hellmann radiated confidence: "People at first admire me because of my talent and outgoing personality. Few know my real capabilities at human relationships." In response to the negative version, "What do people like least about you?" Hellmann gave us an insight into this young man's complex character and a hint of what is to come when he is given absolute power. He wrote, "My impatience with stupidity, a total disregard for people whose life style I do not agree with. My exploitation of some people, my bluntness, my confidence." Finally, let's add to the mix that this volunteer said that he preferred to be assigned to the prisoner role rather than to be a guard "because people resent guards." With that character reference in mind, it is now instructive to review his post- experiment reflections on what he perceived his role was in this study. Guard Hellmann: "Yes it has been more than an experiment. I had a chance at testing people's capabilities, pushing them to the breaking point under the guise of a correctional officer. It was not pleasant but I felt compelled out of my own fas cination to test their reactions. I was conducting experiments on my own on many occasions."29 "The best thing about the experiment was that I seemed to be the catalyst that brought out some startling results that gained interest from TV and the press.... I'm sorry if I caused more trouble than you wanted—It was an experi ment of my own."30 "The worst thing about the experiment was that so many people took me so seriously and that I made them enemies. My words affected them, [the prisoners] seemed to lose touch with the reality of the experiment."31 A month after our study was terminated, this former guard was interviewed along with former prisoner Clay-416, his nemesis. They interacted as part of a TV documentary about our study on NBC'sC h ronolog, a forerunner of 60 Minutes. It was titled, "819 Did a Bad Thing." After Hellmann described his transformation into the guard role, Clay went on the offensive, finally being able to add to the adage of that era, "What comes around, goes around." Hellmann: "Once you put a uniform on and are given a role, I mean, a job, saying 'Your job is to keep these people in line,' then you're certainly not the same person if you're in street clothes and in a different role. You really become that person once you put on the khaki uniform, you put on the glasses, you take the nightstick, and you act the part. That's your costume, and you have to act accord ingly when you put it on." Clay:"It harms me, I meanh arm s, I mean in the present tense, it harms me." Hellmann: "How did it harm you? How does it harm you? Just to think that people can be like that?" Clay: "Yeah. It let me in on some knowledge that I've never experienced first hand. I've read about it, I've read a lot about it. But I've never experienced it first hand. I've never seen anyone turn that way. And I know that you're anice guy.You know? You u n d e r s t a n d ? " Hellmann: [Smiling and shaking his head] "You don't know that." Clay: "I do, I do know that you're a nice guy. I don't get bad—" Hellmann: "Then why do youh ate me?" Clay: "Because I know what you can turn into. I know what you're willing to do if you say, 'Oh well, I'm not going to hurt anybody.' 'Oh well, it's a limited situa tion, or it's over in two weeks.' " Hellmann: "Well, you in that position, what would you have done?" Clay (slowly and carefully enunciating each word): I don't know. I can't tell you that I know what I'd do." Hellmann: "Would you—" Clay (now talking over Hellmann): "I don't think, I don't believe, I would have been asinventive as you. I don't think I would have applied as muchim agina tion to what I was doing. Do you understand?" Hellmann: "Yes, I—" Clay [interrupting and seeming to enjoy his new sense of power]: "I think I would have been a guard, I don't think it would have been such am asterpiec e! " Hellmann: "I didn't see where it was really harmful. It was degrading, and that was part of my particular little experiment to see how I could, uh—" Clay (in disbelief): "Your particular littleex perim ent? Why don't you tell me about that?" Hellmann: "I was running little experiments of my own." Clay: "Tell me about your little experiments. I'm curious." Hellmann: "Okay, I wanted to see just what kind of verbal abuse that people can take before they start objecting, before they start lashing back, under the cir cumstances. And it surprised me that no one said anything to stop me. No one said, 'Jeez, you can't say those things to me, those things are sick.' Nobody said that, they just accepted what I said. I said, 'Go tell that man to his face that he's the scum of the earth," and they'd do it without question. They'd do push-ups without question, they'd sit in the Hole, they'd abuse each other, and here they're supposed to be together as a unit in jail, but here they're abusing each other be cause I requested them to and no one questioned my authority at all. And it really shocked me. [His eyes get teary.] Why didn't people say something when I started to abuse people? I started to get so profane, and still, people didn't say anything. Why?" Why indeed? CHAPTER TEN The SPE's Meaning and Messages: The Alchemy of Character Transformations We're all guinea pigs in the laboratory of God .. . Humanity is just a work in progress. —Tennessee Williams, Camino Real (1953) The Stanford Prison Experiment began as a simple demonstration of the effects that a composite of situational variables has on the behavior of individuals role- playing prisoners and guards in a simulated prison environment. For this ex ploratory investigation, we were not testing specific hypotheses but rather assessing the extent to which the external features of an institutional setting could override the internal dispositions of the actors in that environment. Good dispositions were pitted against a bad situation. However, over time, this experiment has emerged as a powerful illustration of the potentially toxic impact of bad systems and bad situations in making good people behave in pathological ways that are alien to their nature. The narrative chronology of this study, which I have tried to re-create faithfully here, vividly re veals the extent to which ordinary, normal, healthy young men succumbed to, or were seduced by, the social forces inherent in that behavioral context—as were I and many of the other adults and professionals who came within its encompass ing boundaries. The line between Good and Evil, once thought to be impermeable, proved instead to be quite permeable. It is time now for us to review other evidence that we collected during the course of our research. Many quantitative sources of information shed additional light on what happened in that dark basement prison. Therefore, we must use all the available evidence to extract the meanings that have emerged from this unique experiment and to establish the ways in which humanity can be trans formed by power and by powerlessness. Underlying those meanings are signifi cant messages about the nature of human nature and the conditions that can diminish or enrich it. SUMMING UP BEFORE DIGGINGI N T O THE DATA As you have seen, our psychologically compelling prison environment elicited in tense, realistic, and often pathological reactions from many of the participants. We were surprised both by the intensity of the guards' domination and the speed with which it appeared in the wake of the prisoner rebellion. As in the case of Doug-8612, we were surprised that situational pressures could overcome most of these normal, healthy young men so quickly and so extremely. Experiencing a loss of personal identity and subjected to arbitrary continual control of their behavior, as well as being deprived of privacy and sleep, generated in them a syndrome of passivity, dependency, and depression that resembled what has been termed "learned helplessness."1 (Learned helplessness is the experience of passive resignation and depression following recurring failure or punishment, especially when it seems arbitrary and not contingent upon one's actions.) Half of our student prisoners had to be released early because of severe emo tional and cognitive disorders, transient but intense at the time. Most of those who remained for the duration generally became mindlessly obedient to the guards' demands and seemed "zombie-like" in their listless movements while yielding to the whims of the ever-escalating guard power. As with the rare "good guards," so too, a few prisoners were able to stand up to the guards' domination. As we have seen, Clay-416, who should have been supported for his heroic passive resistance, instead was harassed by his fellow prisoners for being a "troublemaker." They adopted the narrow dispositional per spective provided by the guards rather than generate their own metaperspective on Clay's hunger strike as emblematic of a path for their communal resistance against blind obedience to authority. Sarge also behaved heroically at times by refusing to curse or verbally abuse a fellow prisoner when ordered to do so, but at all other times he was the model obedient prisoner. Jerry-486 emerged as our most evenly balanced prisoner; how ever, as he indicates in his personal reflections, he survived only by turning in ward and not doing as much as he might to help the other prisoners, who could have benefited from his support. When we began our experiment, we had a sample of individuals who did not deviate from the normal range of the general educated population on any of the dimensions we had premeasured. Those randomly assigned to the role of "pris oner" were interchangeable with those in the "guard" role. Neither group had any history of crime, emotional or physical disability, or even intellectual or social disadvantage that might typically differentiate prisoners from guards and prison ers from the rest of society. It is by virtue of this random assignment and the comparative premeasures that I am able to assert that these young men did not import into our jail any of the pathology that subsequently emerged among them as they played either pris oners or guards. At the start of this experiment, there were no differences be tween the two groups; less than a week later, there were no similarities between them. It is reasonable, therefore, to conclude that the pathologies were elicited by the set of situational forces constantly impinging upon them in this prisonlike set ting. Further, this Situation was sanctioned and maintained by a background System that I helped to create. I did so first when I gave the new guards their psy chological orientation and then with the development of various policies and pro cedures that I and my staff helped to put into operation. Neither the guards nor the prisoners could be considered "bad apples" prior to the time when they were so powerfully impacted by being embedded in a "bad barrel." The complex of features within that barrel constitute the situational forces in operation in this behavioral context—the roles, rules, norms, anonymity of person and place, dehumanizing processes, conformity pressures, group iden tity, and more. WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM OUR DATA? The around-the-clock direct observations that we made of behavioral interac tions between prisoners and guards, and of special events, were supplemented by videotaped recordings (about twelve hours), concealed audiotape recordings (about thirty hours), questionnaires, self-reported individual difference person ality measures, and various interviews. Some of these measures were coded for quantitative analyses, and some were correlated with outcome measures. The data analyses present a number of problems in their interpretation: the sample size was relatively small; the recordings were selective and not compre hensive because of our limited budget and staff, and because of the strategic deci sion to focus on daily events of high interest (such as counts, meals, visitors, and parole hearings). In addition, the causal directions are uncertain because of the dynamic interplay among guards and prisoners within and across guard shifts. The quantitative data analysis of individual behavior is confounded by the obvi ous fact of the complex interactions of persons, groups, and time-based effects. In addition, unlike traditional experiments, we did not have a control group of comparable volunteers who did not undergo the experimental treatment of being a mock prisoner or mock guard but were given various pre-post assess ments. We did not do so because we thought about our design as more a demon stration of a phenomenon, like Milgram's original obedience study, than as an experiment to establish causal associations. We imagined doing such control- versus-experimental group comparisons in future research if we obtained any interesting findings from this first exploratory investigation. Thus, our simple independent variable was only the main effect of the treatment of guard-versus- prisoner status. Nevertheless, some clear patterns emerged that amplify the qualitative nar rative I have presented thus far. These findings offer some interesting insights into the nature of this psychologically compelling environment and of the young men who were tested by its demands. Full details of the operational scoring of these measures and their statistical significance is available in the scientific article published in the International Journal of Criminology and Penology 2 and on the website Personality Measures Three kinds of measures of individual differences among the participants were administered when they came in for their pre-experiment assessment a few days prior to the start of the study. These measures were the F-Scale of authoritarian ism, the Machiavellian Scale of interpersonal manipulation strategies, and the Comrey Personality Scales. The F-Scale.3On this measure of rigid adherence to conventional values and a submissive, uncritical attitude toward authority, there was no statistically signifi cant difference between the mean score of the guards (4.8) and that of the pris oners (4.4)—before they were divided into the two roles. However, a fascinating finding emerges when we compare the F-Scale scores of the five prisoners who re mained for the duration of the study and the five who were released early. Those who endured the authoritarian environment of the SPE scored more than twice (mean = 7.8) as high on conventionality and authoritarianism than their early-released peers (mean = 3.2). Amazingly, when these scores are arranged in rank order from lowest to highest prisoner F-Scale values, a highly significant correla tion is found with the number of days of staying in the experiment (correlation coefficient = .90). A prisoner was likely to remain longer and adjust more effec tively to the authoritarian prison environment to the extent that he was high in rigidity, adherence to conventional values, and acceptance of authority—the fea tures which characterized our prison setting. To the contrary, the prisoners who handled the pressures least well were the young men who were lowest on these F-Scale traits—which some would say are to their credit. The Machiavellian Scale.4This measure, as its name implies, assesses one's en dorsement of strategies for gaining effective advantage in interpersonal encoun ters. However, no significant differences were found between the guards' mean score{7.7) and the slightly higher mean of the prisoners (8.8), nor did this mea sure predict duration of the stay in prison. We expected that the skill of those high on this trait of manipulating others might be relevant in their daily interactions in this setting, but while two of the prisoners with the highest Machiavellian score were those we judged to have adjusted best to the prison, two others we evaluated as also adjusting well had the lowest Machiavellian scores. The Comrey Personality Scales. 5 This self-report inventory consists of eight sub- scales that we used to predict dispositional variations between the guards and prisoners. These personality measures are: Trustworthiness, Orderliness, Confor mity, Activity, Stability, Extroversion, Masculinity, and Empathy. On this measure, the average scores of the guards and those of the prisoners were virtually inter changeable; none even approached statistical significance. Furthermore, on every subscale, the group mean fell within the fortieth to sixtieth percentile range of the normative male population reported by Comrey. This finding bolsters the assertion that the personalities of the students in the two different groups could be defined as "normal" or "average." Craig Haney and Curt Banks did indeed do their preselection task of choosing a sample of student volunteers who were "or dinary men" well. In addition, there were no prior dispositional tendencies that could distinguish those individuals who role-played the guards from those who enacted the prisoner role. A few interesting, though nonsignificant, differences were found between the prisoners who were released early and those who endured the full catastro phe. The "endurers" scored higher on Conformity ("acceptance of society as it is"), Extroversion, and Empathy (helpfulness, sympathy, generosity) than those who had to be released due to their extreme stress reactions. If we examine the scores for those individual guards and prisoners that most deviated from the average of their group (by 1.5 standard deviations or more), some curious patterns appear. First, let's look at some personality characteristics of particular prisoners. My impression of prisoner Jerry-5486 as "most together" was clearly supported by his being higher than any other prisoner on Stability, with nearly all his other scores very close to the population norm. When he does deviate from the others, it is always in a positive direction. He was also highest in Masculinity ("does not cry easily, not interested in love stories"). Stewart-819, who trashed his cell and caused grief to his cellmates who had to clean up his mess, scored lowest in Order liness (the extent to which a person is meticulous and concerned with neatness and orderliness). Despite rules to the contrary, he did not care. Guess who scored highest on the measure of Activity (liking physical activity, hard work, and exer cise)? Yes, indeed, it was Sarge-2093. Trustworthiness is the belief in the basic honesty and good intentions of others, and Clay-416 took the prize on that di mension. Finally, from the prisoner profiles, who do you suspect got the highest score on "Conformity" (a belief in law enforcement, acceptance of society as it is, and resentment of nonconformity in others)? Who reacted most strongly against Clay-416's resistance to the guards' demands? It was none other than our hand some youngster, Hubbie-7258! Among the guards, there were only a few individual profile scores that were interesting as being "atypical" compared to their peers'. First, we see that the "good guard" John Landry, not his brother Geoff, was highest on Empathy. Guard Varnish was lowest on Empathy and Trustworthiness but highest on concern for neatness and orderliness. He also had the highest Machiavellian score of any guard. Packaged together, that syndrome characterizes the coolly efficient, me chanical, and detached behavior he showed throughout the study. While these findings suggest that personality measures do predict behavioral differences in some individual cases, we need to be cautious in overgeneralizing their utility in understanding individual behavior patterns in novel settings, such as this one. For example, based on all the measures we examined, Jerry-5486 was the most "supranormal" of the prisoners. However, second in line with person ality inventory scores that would qualify him as "most normal" is Doug-8612. His disturbed account of acting and then becoming "crazy" was hardly pre dictable from his "most normal" pre-experimental status. Moreover, we could find no personality precursors for the difference between the four meanest guards and the others who were less abusive. Not a single personality predisposition could ac count for this extreme behavioral variation. Now if we look at the personality scores of the two guards who were clearly the meanest and most sadistic toward prisoners, Hellmann and Arnett, both turned out to be ordinary, average on all but one of the personality dimensions. Where they diverged was on Masculinity. An intuitive personality theorist would seem justified in assuming that Hellmann, our badass "John Wayne," would top off the scale on Masculinity. Just the opposite was true: he scored lower on Mas culinity than any other guard and, for that matter, lower than any prisoner did. In contrast, Arnett scored as the most masculine of all the guards. Psychodynamic analysts would most certainly assume that Hellmann's cruel, dominating behav ior and his invention of homophobic exercises were motivated by a reaction for mation against his nonmasculine, possibly latent-homosexual nature. However, before we wax analytically lyrical, I must hasten to add that there has been noth ing in his subsequent lifestyle over the past thirty-five years that has character ized this young man as anything but appropriate and normal as a husband, father, businessman, and civic-minded citizen. Mood Adjective Self-Reports. Twice during the study and immediately after the de briefing session, each of the students completed a checklist of adjectives that they felt best described their current mood state. We combined the mood adjectives into those that reflected negative versus positive moods and separately those that portrayed activity versus passivity. As might well be expected from all we have seen of the state of the prisoners, the prisoners expressed three times as much negative affect as positive and much more negativity overall than did the guards. The guards expressed slightly more negative than positive affect. Another inter esting difference between the two groups is the greater fluctuation in the prison ers' mood states. Over the course of the study, they showed two to three times as much variation in their moods as did the relatively stable guards. On the dimen sion of activity-passivity, the prisoners tended to score twice as high, indicating twice as much internal "agitation" as the guards. While the prison experience had a negative emotional impact upon both guards and prisoners, the adverse ef fects upon the prisoners were more profound and unstable. Comparing the prisoners who stayed to those who were released early, the mood of those who had to be terminated was marked by a decidedly more nega tive tone: depression and unhappiness. When the mood scales were administered for a third time, justafter the subjects were told that the study had been termi nated (the early-released subjects returned for the debriefing encounter session), elevated changes in positive moods were evident. All of the now "ex-convicts" se lected self-descriptive adjectives that characterized their mood as less negative and much more positive—a decrease in negativity from the initially strong 15.0 to a low of 5.0, while their positivity soared from the initial low of 6.0 up to 17.0. In addition, they now felt less passive than before. In general, there were no longer any differences on these mood subscales be tween prisoners released early and those who endured the six days. I am happy to be able to report the vital conclusion that by the end of the study both groups of students had returned to their pre-experiment baselines of normal emotional re sponding. This return to normality seems to reflect the "situational specificity" of the depression and stress reactions these students experienced while playing their unusual roles. This last finding can be interpreted in several ways. The emotional impact of the prison experience was transient since the suffering prisoners quickly bounced back to a normal mood base level as soon as the study was terminated. It also speaks to the "normality" of the participants we had so carefully selected, and this bounce-back attests to their resilience. However, the same overall reaction among the prisoners could have come from very different sources. Those who re mained were elated by their newfound freedom and the knowledge that they had survived the ordeal. Those who were released early were no longer emotionally distressed, having readjusted while away from the negative situation. Perhaps we can also attribute some of their newly positive reactions to gratification at seeing their fellow prisoners released, thus relieving them of the burden of guilt they may have felt for leaving early while their fellows had to stay on, enduring the ordeal. Although some guards indicated that they wished the study had continued as planned for another week, as a group they too were glad to see it end. Their mean positivity score more than doubled (from 4.0 to 10.2), and their low negativity score (6.0) got even lower (2.0). Therefore, as a group, they also were able to regain their emotional composure and balance despite their role in creating the horrible conditions in this prison setting. This mood readjustment does not mean that some of these young men were not troubled by what they had done and by their failure to stop abuse, as we noted earlier in their postexperiment reactions and retrospective diaries. Video Analysis. There were twenty-five relatively discrete incidents identifiable on the tapes of prisoner-guard interactions. Each incident or scene was scored for the presence of ten behavioral (and verbal) categories. Two raters, who had not been involved with the study, independently scored these tapes, and their level of agreement was satisfactory. These categories were: Asking Questions, Giv ing Commands, Offering Information, Using Individuating Reference (positive) or Deindividuating (negative), Making Threats, Giving Resistance, Helping Others, Using Instruments (for some goal), and Exhibiting Aggression. As shown in the figure summarizing these results, overall there was an ex cess of negative, hostile interactions between the guards and prisoners. Assertive activity was largely the prerogative of the guards, while the prisoners generally assumed a relatively passive stance. Most characteristic of the guards across the situations we recorded were the following responses: giving commands, insulting prisoners, deindividualizing prisoners, showing aggression toward prisoners, threatening, and using instruments against them. At first, the prisoners resisted the guards, notably in the early days of the study and later, when Clay-416 went on his hunger strike. The prisoners tended to positively individuate others, asked questions of them, gave information to them, and rarely showed the negative behavior toward others that became typical of the dominating guards. Again, this occurred only in the first days of the study. On the other hand, the two mostinfrequent behaviors we observed over the six days of our study were individuating others and helping others. Only one such incident of helping was recorded—a solitary sign of human concern for a fellow human being occurred between two prisoners. The recordings also underscore quantitatively what was observed over the course of the study: the guards continually escalated their harassment of the prisoners. If we compare two of the first prisoner-guard interactions during the counts with two of thelast, we note that in an equivalent unit of time, no deindividuating references occurred initially, but a robust average of 5.4 occurred in the last counts. Similarly, the guards spoke few deprecating insults initially, only an average of 0.3, but by the last day they degraded the prisoners an average of 5.7 times in the same length of time. According to the temporal analysis from this video data, what the prisoners did was simply to behave less and less over time. There was a general decrease across all behavioral categories over time. They did little initiating, simply becom ing increasingly passive as the days and nights moved numbingly on. The video analysis also clearly showed that the "John Wayne" night shift was hardest on the prisoners compared to the other two shifts. The behavior of the guards on this tough and cruel shift differed significantly from those that pre ceded and followed it in the following ways: issuing more commands (an average of 9.3 versus 4.0, respectively, for standardized units of time); giving more than twice as many deprecating insults toward the prisoners (5.2 versus 2.3, respec tively). They also resorted more often to aggressively punishing the prisoners than did the guards on the other shifts. The more subtle verbal aggression in Arnett's shift is not detected in these analyses. Audio Analysis. From time to time, audio recordings with concealed microphones were made of interviews between one of the staff with prisoners and guards, and of conversations among prisoners taking place in the cells. Nine categories were created to capture the general nature of this verbal behavior. Again, the record ings were classified into these categories by two independent judges, who did so reliably. In addition to asking questions, giving information, making requests and de mands and ordering commands, other categories focused on criticism; positive/ negative outlook; positive/negative self-evaluation; individuating/deindividuating 204 The Lucifer Effect references; desire to continue in the study or abort; and intention to act in the future in positive or negative ways. We were surprised to discover that the guards tended to have nearly as much negative outlook and negative self-regard as did most of the prisoners. In fact, the "good guard" Geoff Landry expressed more negative self-regard than did any pris oner and more general negative affect than all but one participant, namely Doug- 8612. Our interviews with prisoners were marked by their general negativity in expressing affect and in their self-regard and intentions (primarily intention to be aggressive and having a negative outlook on their situation). These interviews showed clear differences in the emotional impact of the ex perience between the prisoners who remained and those who were released early. We compared the mean number of expressions of negative outlook, negative af fect, negative self-regard, and intention to aggress that were made by remaining versus released prisoners (per interview). Prisoners released early expressed expec tations that were more negative and had more negative affect, more negative self- regard, and four times as many intentions to aggress as did their fellow prisoners who stuck it out. These interesting trends are close to being statistically significant. Bugging the cells gave us information about what the prisoners were dis cussing in private during temporary respites from the counts, the menial work tasks, and other public events. Remember that the three inmates in each cell were initially total strangers. It was only when they were alone in the solitude of their cells that they could get to know one another since no "small talk" was allowed at public times. We assumed that they would seek common ground for relating to one another, given their close quarters and their expectation of interacting for two weeks. We expected to hear them talk about their college lives, majors, voca tions, girlfriends, favorite teams, music preferences, hobbies, what they would do for the remainder of the summer once the experiment was over, or maybe what they would do with the money they would earn. Not at all! Almost none of these expectations were borne out. Fully 90 per cent of all conversations among prisoners related to prison issues. Only a mere 10 percent focused on personal or autobiographical exchanges that were not re lated to the prison experience. The prisoners were most concerned about food, guard harassment, establishing a grievance committee, forging plans of escape, visitors, and the behavior of prisoners in the other cells and those in solitary. When they had the opportunity to distance themselves temporarily from the harassment by guards and the tedium of their schedules, to transcend the pris oner role and establish their personal identity in a social interaction, they did not do so. The prisoner role dominated all expressions of individual character. The prison setting dominated their outlook and concerns—forcing them into an ex panded present temporal orientation. It did not matter whether the presentation of self was under surveillance or free from its glare. By not sharing their pasts and future expectations, the only thing each pris oner knew about the other prisoners was based on observations of how they were The SPE's Meaning and Messages 205 behaving in the present. We know that what they had to see during counts and other menial activities was usually a negative image of one another. That image was all they had upon which to build a personality impression of their peers. Be cause they focused on the immediate situation, the prisoners also contributed to fostering a mentality that intensified the negativity of their experiences. Gener ally, we manage to cope with bad situations by compartmentalizing them into a temporal perspective that imagines a better, different future combined with recall of a reassuring past. This self-imposed intensification of prisoner mentality had an even more damaging consequence: the prisoners began to adopt and accept the negative im ages that the guards had developed toward them. Half of all reported private interactions between the prisoners could be classified as nonsupportive and non- cooperative. Even worse, whenever the prisoners made evaluative statements of, or expressed regard for, their fellow prisoners, 85 percent of the time they were uncomplimentary and deprecating! These frequencies are statistically significant: the greater focus on prison than nonprison topics would occur only one time in a hundred by chance, while the focus on negative attributions of fellow prisoners as opposed to positive or neutral terms would occur by chance only five times in a hundred. This means that such emerging behavioral effects are "real" and not likely to be attributed to random fluctuations in what the prisoners discussed in the privacy of their cells. By internalizing the oppressiveness of the prison setting in these ways, the prisoners formed impressions of their mates primarily by watching them be hu miliated, act like compliant sheep, or carry out mindlessly degrading orders. Without developing any respect for the others, how could they come to have any self-respect in this prison? This last unexpected finding reminds me of the phe nomenon of "identification with the aggressor." The psychologist Bruno Bettel- heim7 used this term to characterize ways in which Nazi concentration camp prisoners internalized the power that was inherent in their oppressors (it was first used by Anna Freud). Bettelheim observed that some inmates acted like their Nazi guards, not only abusing other prisoners but even wearing bits of cast-off SS uni forms. Desperately hoping to survive a hostile, unpredictable existence, the victim senses what the aggressor wants and rather than opposing him, embraces his image and becomes what the aggressor is. The frightening power differential be tween powerful guards and powerless prisoners is psychologically minimized by such mental gymnastics. One becomes one with one's enemy—in one's own mind. This self-delusion prevents realistic appraisals of one's situation, inhibits ef fective action, coping strategies, or rebellion, and does not permit empathy for one's fellow sufferers.8 Life is the art of being well-deceived; and in order that the deception may succeed it must be habitual and uninterrupted. —William Hazlitt, "On Pedantry," The Round Table, 1817 THE SPE'S LESSONS AND MESSAGES It is time to move from the specific behavioral reactions and personal attributes of these young men who enacted the roles of prisoners and guards to consider some broader conceptual issues raised by this research and its lessons, meaning, and messages. The Virtue of Science From one perspective, the SPE does not tell us anything about prisons that sociolo gists, criminologists, and the narratives of prisoners have not already revealed about the evils of prison life. Prisons can be brutalizing places that invoke what is worst in human nature. They breed more violence and crime than they foster constructive rehabilitation. Recidivism rates of 60 percent and higher indicate that prisons have become revolving doors for those sentenced for criminal felonies. What does the SPE add to our understanding ofsoc iety 's f ailed ex perim ent of prisons as its instruments of crime control? I think the answer lies in the experi ment's basic protocol. In real prisons, defects of the prison situation and those of the people who inhabit it are confounded, inextricably intertwined. Recall my first discussion with the sergeant in the Palo Alto police station wherein I explained the reason we were conducting this research rather than going to a local prison to observe what was going on. This experiment was designed to assess the impact of a simulated prison situation on those who lived in it, both guards and prisoners. By means of various experimental controls, we were able to do a number of things, and draw conclusions, that would not have been possible in real-world settings. Systematic selection procedures ensured that everyone going into our prison was as normal, average, and healthy as possible and had no prior history of anti social behavior, crime, or violence. Moreover, because they were college students, they were generally above average in intelligence, lower in prejudice, and more confident about their futures than their less educated peers. Then, by virtue of random assignment, the key to experimental research, these good people were randomly assigned to the role of guard or prisoner, regardless of whatever incli nation they might have had to be the other. Chance ruled. Further experimental control involved systematic observation, collection of multiple forms of evidence, and statistical data analyses that together could be used to determine the impact of the experience within the parameters of the research design. The SPE protocol disentangled person from place, disposition from situation, "good apples" from "bad barrels." We must acknowledge, however, that all research is "artificial," being only an imitation of its real-world analogue. Nevertheless, despite the artificiality of controlled experimental research like the SPE, or that of the social psychological studies we will encounter in later chapters, when such research is conducted in sensitive ways that capture essential features of "mundane realism," the results can have considerable generalizability.9 Our prison was obviously not a "real prison" in many of its tangible features, but it did capture the central psychological features of imprisonment that I believe are central to the "prison experience." To be sure, any finding derived from an experiment must raise two questions. First, "Compared to what?" Next, "What is its external validity—the real-world parallels that it may help to explain?" The value of such research typically lies in its ability to illuminate underlying processes, identify causal sequences, and establish the variables that mediate an observed effect. Moreover, experiments can establish causal relationships that if statistically significant cannot be dismissed as chance connections. The pioneering theorist-researcher in social psychology Kurt Lewin argued decades ago for a science of experimental social psychology. Lewin asserted that it is possible to abstract significant issues from the real world conceptually and prac tically and test them in the experimental laboratory. With well-designed studies and carefully executed manipulations of independent variables (the antecedent factors used as behavioral predictors), he thought, it was possible to establish cer tain causal relationships in ways that were not possible in field or observational studies. However, Lewin went further to advocate using that knowledge to effect social change, using research-based evidence to understand as well as attempt to change and improve society and human functioning.10 I have tried to follow his inspiring lead. Guard Power Transformations Our sense of power is more vivid when we break a man's spirit than when we win his heart. —Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind (1954) Some of our volunteers who were randomly assigned to be guards soon came to abuse their newfound power by behaving sadistically—demeaning, degrading, and hurting the "prisoners" day in and night out. Their actions fit the psychologi cal definition of evil proposed in chapter 1. Other guards played their role in tough, demanding ways that were not particularly abusive, but they showed little sympathy for the plight of the suffering inmates. A few guards, who could be clas sified as "good guards," resisted the temptation of power and were at times con siderate of the prisoners' condition, doing little things like giving one an apple, another a cigarette, and so on. Although vastly different from the SPE in the extent of its horror and com plexity of the system that spawned and sustained it, there is one interesting par allel between the Nazi SS doctors involved in the death camp at Auschwitz and our SPE guards. Like our guards, those doctors could be categorized as falling into three groups. According to Robert Jay Lifton in Nazi Doctors, there were "zealots who participated eagerly in the extermination process and even did 'extra work' on behalf of killing; those who went about the process more or less methodically and did no more or no less than they felt that they had to do; and those who par ticipated in the extermination process only reluctantly."11 In our study, being a good guard who did his job reluctantly meant "goodness by default." Doing minor nice deeds for the prisoners simply contrasted with the demonic actions of their shift mates. As noted previously, none of them ever in tervened to prevent the "bad guards" from abusing the prisoners; none com plained to the staff, left their shift early or came to work late, or refused to work overtime in emergencies. Moreover, none of them even demanded overtime pay for doing tasks they may have found distasteful. They were part of the "Evil of In action Syndrome," which will be discussed more fully later. Recall that the best good guard, Geoff Landry, shared the night shift with the worst guard, Hellmann, and he never once made any attempt to get him to "chill out," never reminded him that this was "just an experiment," that there was no need to inflict so much suffering on the kids who were just role-playing prisoners. Instead, as we have seen from his personal accounts, Geoff simply suffered in silence—along with the prisoners. Had he energized his conscience into con structive action, this good guard might have had a significant impact in mitigat ing the escalating abuse of the prisoners on his shift. In my many years of experience teaching at a variety of universities, I have found that most students are not concerned with power issues because they have enough to get by in their world, where intelligence and hard work get them to their goals. Power is a concern when people either have a lot of it and need to maintain it or when they have not much power and want to get more. However, power itself becomes a goal for many because of all the resources at the disposal of the powerful. The former statesman Henry Kissinger described this lure as "the aphrodisiac of power." That lure attracts beautiful young women to ugly, old, but powerful men. Prisoner Pathologies Wherever anyone is against his will, that is to him a prison. —Epictetus,Discourses, second century A.D. Our initial interest was not so much in the guards as in how those assigned the prisoner role would adapt to their new lowly, powerless status. Having spent the summer enmeshed in the psychology of imprisonment course I had just co- taught at Stanford, I was primed to be on their side. Carlo Prescott had filled us with vivid tales of abuse and degradation at the hands of guards. From other former prisoners, we heard firsthand the horror stories of prisoners sexually abusing other prisoners and gang wars. Thus, Craig, Curt, and I were privately pulling for the prisoners, hoping that they would resist any pressures the guards could muster against them and maintain their personal dignity despite the external signs of inferiority they were forced to wear. I could imagine myself a Paul New man kind of wisely resistant prisoner, as portrayed in the movie Cool Hand Luke. I could never imagine myself as his jailor.12 We were pleased when the prisoners rebelled so soon, challenging the has sling of the menial tasks the guards assigned them, the arbitrary enforcement of rules, and the exhausting count lineups. Their expectations about what they would be doing in the "study of prison life" to which our newspaper ad had recruited them had been violated. They had anticipated a little menial labor for a few hours mixed with time to read, relax, play some games, and meet new people. That, in fact, was what our preliminary agenda called for—before the prisoners' rebellion and before the guards took control of matters. We had even planned to have movie nights for them. The prisoners were particularly upset by the constant abuse rained on them day and night, the lack of privacy and relief from staff surveillance, the arbitrary enforcement of rules and random punishments, and being forced to share their barren, cramped quarters. When the guards turned to us for help after the rebel lion started, we backed off and made it clear that their decisions would prevail. We were observers who did not want to intrude. I was not yet fully submerged in the superintendent's mentality at that early stage; rather, I was acting as the principal investigator, interested in data on how these mock guards would react to this emergency. The breakdown of Doug-8612, coming so soon after he had helped to engi neer a rebellion, caught us all off guard, if you will excuse the pun. We were all shaken by his shrill voice screaming opposition to everything that was wrong in the way the prisoners were being treated. Even when he shouted, "It's a fucking simulation, not a prison, and fuck Dr.Zim b argo!" I could not help but admire his spunk. We could not bring ourselves to believe that he was really suffering as much as he seemed to be. Recall my conversation with him when he first wanted to be released and I invited him to consider the option of becoming a "snitch" in return for a hassle-free time as a prisoner. Recall further that Craig Haney had made the difficult decision to deal with Doug-8612's sudden breakdown by releasing him after only thirty-six hours into the experiment. As experimenters, none of us had predicted an event like this, and, of course, we had devised no contingency plan to cover it. On the other hand, it was obvious that this young man was more disturbed by his brief expe rience in the Stanford Prison than any of us had expected.... So, I decided to release Prisoner 8612, going with the ethical, humanitarian decision over the experimental one. How did we explain this violation of our expectations that no one could have such a severe stress reaction so quickly? Craig remembers our wrong-headed causal attribution: We quickly seized on an explanation that felt as natural as it was reassuring—he must have broken down because he was weak or had some kind of defect in his personality that accounted for his oversensitivity and overreaction to the simulated prison conditions! In fact, we worried that there had been a flaw in our screening process that had allowed a "damaged" person somehow to slip through undetected. It was only later that we appreciated this obvious irony: we had "dispositionally explained" the first truly unexpected and extraordinary demonstration of situational power in our study by resorting to precisely the kind of thinking we had designed the study to challenge and critique.13 Let's go back and review the final reactions to this experience by Doug-8612 to appreciate his level of confusion at that time: "I decided I want out, and then I went to talk to you guys and everything, and you said 'No' and you bullshitted me and everything, and I came back and I real ized you were bullshitting me, and that made me mad, so I decided I'm getting out and I was going to do anything, and I made up several schemes whereby I could get out. The easiest one and that wouldn't hurt anybody or hurt any equipment was to just act mad or upset, so I chose that one. When I was in the Hole, I pur posely kind of built it up and I knew that when I went to talk with Jaffe, I didn't want to release the energy in the Hole, I wanted to release in front of Jaffe, so I knew I'd get out, and then, even while I was being upset, I was manipulating and I was being upset, you know—how could you act upset unless youwere u p s e t... it's like a crazy person can't act crazy unless he really is kinda crazy, you know? I don't know whether I was upset or whether I was induced.... I was mad at the black guy, and what was his name, Carter? Something like that and you, Dr. Zim- bardo, for making the contract like I was a serf or something... and the way you played with me afterwards, but what can you do, you had to do that, your people had to do it in an experiment."14 WHY SITUATIONS MATTER Within certain powerful social settings, human nature can be transformed in ways as dramatic as the chemical transformation in Robert Louis Stevenson's captivating fable of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The enduring interest in the SPE over many decades comes, I think, from the experiment's startling revelation of "transformation of character"—of good people suddenly becoming perpetrators of evil as guards or pathologically passive victims as prisoners in response to situational forces acting on them. Good people can be induced, seduced, and initiated into behaving in evil ways. They can also be led to act in irrational, stupid, self-destructive, antisocial, and mindless ways when they are immersed in "total situations" that impact human nature in ways that challenge our sense of the stability and consistency of individual personality, of character, and of morality.15 We want to believe in the essential, unchanging goodness of people, in their power to resist external pressures, in their rational appraisal and then rejection of situational temptations. We invest human nature with God-like qualities, with moral and rational faculties that make us both just and wise. We simplify the complexity of human experience by erecting a seemingly impermeable boundary between Good and Evil. On one side are Us, Our Kin, and Our Kind; on the other side of that line we cast Them, Their Different Kin, and Other Kind. Paradoxically, by creating this myth of our invulnerability to situational forces, we set ourselves up for a fall by not being sufficiently vigilant to situational forces. The SPE, along with much other social science research (presented in chap ters 12 and 13), reveals a message we do not want to accept: that most of us can undergo significant character transformations when we are caught up in the cru cible of social forces. What we imagine we would do when we are outside that crucible may bear little resemblance to who we become and what we are capable of doing once we are inside its network. The SPE is a clarion call to abandon sim plistic notions of the Good Self dominating Bad Situations. We are best able to avoid, prevent, challenge, and change such negative situational forces only by recognizing their potential power to "infect us," as it has others who were simi larly situated. It is well for us to internalize the significance of the recognition by the ancient Roman comedy writer Terence that "Nothing by humans is alien to me." This lesson should have been taught repeatedly by the behavioral transfor mation of Nazi concentration camp guards, and of those in destructive cults, such as Jim Jones's Peoples Temple, and more recently by the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo cult. The genocide and atrocities committed in Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Burundi, and recently in Sudan's Darfur region also provide strong evi dence of people surrendering their humanity and compassion to social power and abstract ideologies of conquest and national security. Any deed that any human being has ever committed, however horrible, is possible for any of us—under the right or wrong situational circumstances. That knowledge does not excuse evil; rather, it democratizes it, sharing its blame among ordinary actors rather than declaring it the province only of deviants and despots—of Them but not Us. The primary simple lesson the Stanford Prison Experiment teaches is that situations matter. Social situations can have more profound effects on the behavior and mental functioning of individuals, groups, and national leaders than we might believe possible. Some situations can exert such powerful influence over us that we can be led to behave in ways we would not, could not, predict was possible in advance.1 6 Situational power is most salient in novel settings, those in which people can not call on previous guidelines for their new behavioral options. In such situa tions the usual reward structures are different and expectations are violated. Under such circumstances, personality variables have little predictive utility be cause they depend on estimations of imagined future actions based on character istic past reactions in familiar situations—but rarely in the kind of new situation currently being encountered, say by a new guard or prisoner. Therefore, whenever we are trying to understand the cause of any puzzling, unusual behavior, our own or that of others, we should start out with a situa tional analysis. We should yield to dispositional analyses (genes, personality traits, personal pathologies, and so on) only when the situationally based detec tive work fails to make sense of the puzzle. My colleague Lee Ross adds that such an approach invites us to practice "attributional charity." That means we start not by blaming the actor for the deed but rather, being charitable, we first investi gate the scene for situational determinants of the act. However, attributional charity is easier said than practiced because most of us have a powerful mental bias—the "fundamental attribution error"—that pre vents such reasonable thinking.17 Societies that promote individualism, such as the United States and many other Western nations, have come to believe that dis positions matter more than situations. We overemphasize personality in explain ing any behavior while concurrently underemphasizing situational influences. After reading this book, I hope you will begin to notice how often you see this dual principle in action in your own thinking and in decisions of others. Let's consider next some of the features that make situations matter, as illustrated in our prison study. The Power of Rules to Shape Reality Situational forces in the SPE combined a number of factors, none of which was very dramatic alone but that together were powerful in their aggregation. One of the key features was the power of rules. Rules are formal, simplified ways of con trolling informal complex behavior. They work by externalizing regulations, by establishing what is necessary, acceptable, and rewarded and what is unaccept able and therefore punished. Over time, rules come to have an arbitrary life of their own and the force of legal authority even when they are no longer relevant, are vague, or change with the whims of the enforcers. Our guards could justify most of the harm they did to the prisoners by refer encing "the Rules." Recall, for example, the agony the prisoners had to endure to memorize the set of seventeen arbitrary rules that the guards and the warden had invented. Consider also the misuse of Rule 2 about eating at mealtimes to punish Clay-416 for refusing to eat his filthy sausages. Some rules are essential for the effective coordination of social behavior, such as audiences listening while performers speak, drivers stopping at red traffic lights, and people not cutting into queues. However, many rules are merely screens for dominance by those who make them or those charged with enforcing them. Naturally, the last rule, as with the SPE rules, always includes punishment for violation of the other rules. Therefore, there must be someone or some agency willing and able to administer such punishment, ideally doing so in a public arena that can serve to deter other potential rule breakers. The comedian Lenny Bruce had a funny routine describing the development of rules to govern who could and could not throw shit over fences onto a neighbor's property. He described the crea tion of police as guardians of the "no-shit-in-my-backyard" rule. The rules and their enforcers are inherent in situational power. However, it is the System that hires the police and creates the prisons for convicted rule breakers. When Roles Become Real Once you put a uniform on, and are given a role, I mean, a job, saying "your job is to keep these people in line," then you're certainly not the same person if you're in street clothes and in a different role. You really become that person once you put on the khaki uniform, you put on the glasses, you take the nightstick, and you act the part. That's your costume and you have to act accordingly when you put it on. —Guard Hellmann When actors enact a fictional character, they often have to take on roles that are dissimilar to their sense of personal identity. They learn to talk, walk, eat, and even to think and to feel as demanded by the role they are performing. Their pro fessional training enables them to maintain the separation of character and iden tity, to keep self in the background while playing a role that might be dramatically different from who they really are. However, there are times when even for some trained professionals those boundaries blur and the role takes over even after the curtain comes down or the camera's red light goes off. They become absorbed in the intensity of the role and their intensity spills over to direct their offstage life. The play's audience ceases to matter because the role is now within the actor's mind. A fascinating example of this effect of a dramatic role becoming a "tad too real" comes from the British television series The Edwardian Country House. Nine teen people, chosen from some eight thousand applicants, lived the lives of British servants working on a posh country estate in this "reality television" drama. Al though the person chosen to play the head butler in charge of the staff expected to follow the period's rigidly hierarchical standards of behavior, he was "frightened" by the ease with which he became an autocratic master. This sixty-five- year-old architect was not prepared to slip so readily into a role that allowed him to exercise absolute power over a household of underservants whom he bossed: "Suddenly you realize that you don't have to speak. All I had to do was lift my fin ger up and they would keep quiet. And that is a frightening thought—it's ap palling." A young woman who played the role of a housemaid but who in real life is a tourist information officer, began to feel like an invisible person. She described how she and the others so quickly adapted to their subservient role: "I was sur prised, then scared at the way we all became squashed. We learned so quickly that you don't answer back, and you feel subservient."18 Typically, roles are tied to specific situations, jobs, and functions, such as being a professor, doorman, cab driver, minister, social worker, or porn actor. They are enacted when one is in that situation—at home, school, church, or factory, or onstage. Roles can usually be set aside when one returns to his or her "normal" other life. Yet some roles are insidious, are not just scripts that we enact only from time to time; they can become who we are most of the time. They are internalized even as we initially acknowledge them as artificial, temporary, and situationally bound. We become father, mother, son, daughter, neighbor, boss, worker, helper, healer, whore, soldier, beggar man, thief, and many more. To complicate matters further, we all must play multiple roles, some conflict ing, some that may challenge our basic values and beliefs. As in the SPE, what starts out as the "just playing a role" caveat to distinguish it from the real indi vidual can have a profound impact when the role behavior gets rewarded. The "class clown" gets attention he can't get from displaying special academic talents but then is never again taken seriously. Even shyness can be a role initially en acted to avoid awkward social encounters, a situational awkwardness, and when practiced enough the role morphs into a shy person. Just as discomfiting, people can do terrible things when they allow the role they play to have rigid boundaries that circumscribe what is appropriate, ex pected, and reinforced in a given setting. Such rigidity in the role shuts off the tra ditional morality and values that govern their lives when they are in "normal mode." The ego-defense mechanism ofc om partm entalization allows us to mentally bind conflicting aspects of our beliefs and experiences into separate chambers that prevent interpretation or cross talk. A good husband can then be a guiltless adulterer; a saintly priest can then be a lifelong pederast; a kindly farmer can then be a heartless slave master. We need to appreciate the power that role-playing can have in shaping our perspectives, for better as well as for worse, as when adopting the teacher or nurse role translates into a life of sacrifice for the good of one's stu dents and patients. Role Transitions from Healer to Killer The worst-case scenario was the Nazi SS doctors who were assigned the role of selecting concentration camp inmates for extermination or for "experiments." They were socialized away from their usual healing role into the new role, assisting with killing, by means of a group consensus that their behavior was necessary for the common good, which led them to adopt several extreme psychological de fenses against facing the reality of their complicity in the mass murder of Jews. Again we turn to the detailed account of these processes by social psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton. When a new doctor would come on the scene and be initially horrified by what he witnessed, he would ask: "How can these things be done here?" Then there was something like a general answer . . . which clarified everything. What is better for him [the prisoner]—whether he croaks[verrec k t] in shit or goes to heaven in [a cloud of] gas? And that settled the whole matter for the initiates [Eingeweihten]. Mass killing was the unyielding fact of life to which everyone was ex pected to adapt. Framing the genocide of the Jews as the "Final Solution"(Endlôsung) served a dual psychological purpose: "it stood for mass murder without sounding or feel ing like it; and it kept the focus primarily on problem solving." It transformed the whole matter into a difficult problem that had to be solved by whatever means were necessary to achieve a pragmatic goal. The intellectual exercise deleted emo tions and compassion from the doctor's daily rounds. However, their job in selecting inmates for annihilation was both so "oner ous, so associated with extraordinary evil" that these highly educated doctors had to utilize every possible psychological defense against avoiding the reality of their complicity in these murders. For some, "psychic numbing," detaching affect from cognition, became the norm; for others there was a schizophrenic solution of "doubling." The polarities of cruelty and decency in the same doctor at differ ent times would "call forth two radically different psychological constellations within the self: one based on 'values generally accepted' and the education and background of a 'normal person'; the other based on 'this [Nazi-Auschwitz] ide ology with values quite different from those generally accepted.' " These twin ten dencies shifted back and forth from day to day.19 Reciprocal Roles and Their Scripts It is also the case that some roles require reciprocal partnerships; for the guard role to have meaning, somebody has to play prisoner. One can't be a prisoner un less someone is willing to be the guard. In the SPE, no explicit training was re quired for the performance of roles, no manual of best practices. Recall on Day 1 the awkwardness of the guards and the prisoners' frivolity as each were feeling out their new strange roles. However, very soon, our participants were able to slip easily into their roles as the nature of the power differential at the base of the guard-prisoner symbiosis became clearer. The initial script for guard or prisoner role-playing came from the partici pants' own experiences with power and powerlessness, of their observation of in teractions between parents (traditionally, Dad is guard, Mom the prisoner), of their responses to the authority of doctors, teachers, and bosses, and finally from the cultural inscriptions written upon them by movie accounts of prison life. So ciety had done the training for us. We had only to record the extent of their im provisation with the roles they played—as our data. There is abundant evidence that virtually all of our participants at one time or another experienced reactions that went well beyond the surface demands of role-playing and penetrated the deep structure of the psychology of imprison ment. Initially, some of the guards' reactions were probably influenced by their orientation, which outlined the kind of atmosphere we wished to create in order to simulate the reality of imprisonment'. But whatever general demands those stage settings may have outlined for them to be "good actors," they should not have been operative when the guards were in private or believed that we were not observing them. Postexperimental reports told us that some guards had been especially brutal when they were alone with a prisoner on a toilet run outside the Yard, pushing him into a urinal or against a wall. The most sadistic behaviors we observed took place during the late-night and early-morning shifts, when, as we learned, the guards didn't believe that we were observing or recording them, in a sense, when the experiment was "off." In addition, we have seen that guard abuse of prison ers escalated to new, higher levels each day despite the prisoners' nonresistance and the obvious signs of their deterioration as the full catastrophe of imprison ment was achieved. In one taped interview, a guard laughingly recalled apologiz ing for having pushed a prisoner on the first day, but by Day 4. he thought nothing of shoving them around and humiliating them. Craig Haney's discerning analysis reveals the transformation in the power infusing the guards. Consider this encounter with one of them that took place after only a few days into the study: Just as with the prisoners, I also had interviewed all of [the guards] before the experiment began and felt I had gotten to know them as individuals, albeit only briefly. Perhaps because of this, I really felt no hostility toward them as the study proceeded and their behavior became increasingly extreme and abusive. But it was obvious to me that because I insisted on talking privately with the prisoners—ostensibly "counseling" them, and occasionally instructed the guards to refrain from their especially harsh and gratuitous mistreatment, they now saw me as something of a traitor. Thus, describing an interaction with me. one of the guards wrote in his diary: "The psychologist rebukes me for handcuffing and blindfolding a prisoner before leaving the (counseling) office, and I resentfully reply that it is both necessary (for) security and my business anyway." Indeed, he had told me off. In a bizarre turn of events. I was put in my place for failing to uphold the emerging norms of a simulated environment I had helped to create by someone whom I had randomly assigned to his role.20 In considering the possible biasing of the guard orientation, we are reminded that the prisoners had no orientation at all. What did they do when they were in private and could escape the oppression they repeatedly experienced on the Yard? Rather than getting to know one another and discussing nonprison realities, we learned that they obsessed about the vicissitudes of their current situation. They embellished their prisoner role rather than distancing from it. So, too, with our guards: information we gathered about them when they were in their quarters preparing to enter or leave a shift reveals that they rarely exchanged personal, nonprison information. Instead, they talked about "problem prisoners," upcom ing prison issues, reactions to our staff—never the usual guy stuff that college students might have been expected to share during a break. They did not tell jokes, laugh, or reveal any personal emotion to their peers, which they easily could have done to lighten the situation or distance themselves from the role. Re call Christina Maslach's earlier description of the transformation of the sweet, sensitive young man she had just met into the brutish John Wayne once he was in uniform and in his power spot on the Yard. Adult Role-Playing in the SPE I want to add two final points about the power of roles and the use of roles to jus tify transgression before moving to our final lessons. Let's go beyond the roles our volunteers played to recall the roles played to the hilt by the visiting Catholic priest, the head of our Parole Board, the public defender, and the parents on Vis iting Nights. The parents not only accepted our show of the prison situation as be nign and interesting rather than hostile and destructive, but they allowed us to impose a set of arbitrary rules on them, as we had done to their children, to con strain their behavior. We counted on their playing the embedded roles of con forming, law-abiding, middle-class citizens who respect authority and rarely challenge the system directly. Similarly, we knew that our middle-class prisoners were unlikely to jump the guards directly even when they were desperate and out numbered them by as much as nine to two, when a guard was off the Yard. Such violence was not part of their learned role behavior, as it might have been with lower-class participants, who would be more likely to take matters into their own hands. There was not even evidence that the prisoners even fantasized such physi cal attacks. The reality of any role depends on the support system that demands it and keeps it in bounds, not allowing alternate reality to intrude. Recall that when the mother of Prisoner Rich-1037 complained about his sad state. I spontaneously activated my Institutional Authority role and challenged her observation, imply ing that there must have been a personal problem with 1 0 3 7 , not an operational problem with our prison. In retrospect, my role transformation from usually compassionate teacher to data-focused researcher to callous prison superintendent was most distressing. I did improper or bizarre things in that new, strange role, such as undercutting this mother's justified complaints and becoming agitated when the Palo Alto police of ficer refused my request to move our prisoners to the city jail. I think that because I so fully adopted the role it helped to make the prison "work" as well as it did. However, by adopting that role, with its focus on the security and maintenance of "my prison," I failed to appreciate the need to terminate the experiment as soon as the second prisoner went over the edge. Roles and Responsibility for Transgressions To the extent that we can both live in the skin of a role and yet be able to separate ourselves from it when necessary, we are in a position to "explain away" our per sonal responsibility for the damage we cause by our role-based actions. We abdi cate responsibility for our actions, blaming them on that role, which we convince ourselves is alien to our usual nature. This is an interesting variant of the Nurem berg Trial defense of the Nazi SS leaders: "I was only following orders." Instead the defense becomes "Don't blame me, I was only playing my role at that time in that place—that isn't the real me." Remember Hellmann's justification for his abusive behavior toward Clay- 4 1 6 that he described in their television interview. He argued that he had been conducting "little experiments of my own" to see how far he could push the pris oners so that they might rebel and stand up for their rights. In effect, he was proposing that he had been mean to stimulate them to be good; their rebellion would be his primary reward for being so cruel. Where is the fallacy in this post hoc justification? It can be readily exposed in how he handled the sausage rebel lion by Clay-416 and Sarge's "bastard" rebellion; not with admiration for their standing up for rights or principles but rather with rage and more extreme abuse. Here Guard Hellmann was using the full power of being the ultimate guard, able to go beyond the demands of the situation to create his own "little experiment" to satisfy his personal curiosity and amusement. In a recent interview with a reporter from the Los Angeles Times on a retro spective investigation of the aftermath of the SPE, Hellmann and Doug-8612 both offered the same reasoning for why they acted as they did, the one being "cruel," the other "crazy"—they were merely acting those roles to please Zim- bardo.21 Could be? Maybe they were acting new parts in the Japanese movie Roshomon, where everyone has a different view of what really happened. Anonymity and Deindividuation In addition to the power of rules and roles, situational forces mount in power with the introduction of uniforms, costumes, and masks, all disguises of one's usual appearance that promote anonymity and reduce personal accountability. When people feel anonymous in a situation, as if no one is aware of their true identity (and thus that no one probably cares), they can more easily be induced to behave in antisocial ways. This is especially so if the setting grants permission to enact one's impulses or to follow orders or implied guidelines that one would usually disdain. Our silver reflecting sunglasses were one such tool for making the guards, the warden, and me seem more remote and impersonal in our dealings with the prisoners. Their uniforms gave the guards a common identity, as did the necessity of referring to them in the abstract as, "Mr. Correctional Officer." A body of research (to be explored in a later chapter) documents the excesses to which deindividuation facilitates violence, vandalism, and stealing in adults as in children—when the situation supports such antisocial actions. You may recog nize this process in literature as William Golding's Lord of the Flies. When all members of a group of individuals are in a deindividuated state, their mental functioning changes: they live in an expanded-present moment that makes past and future distant and irrelevant. Feelings dominate reason, and action domi nates reflection. In such a state, the usual cognitive and motivational processes that steer their behavior in socially desirable paths no longer guide people. In stead, their Apollonian rationality and sense of order yield to Dionysian excess and even chaos. Then it becomes as easy to make war as to make love, without considering the consequences I am reminded of a Vietnamese saying, attributed to the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh: "in order to fight each other, baby chicks of the same mother hen paint their faces different colors." It is a quaint way to describe the role of deindividuation in facilitating violence. It is worth noticing, as we shall see, that one of the guards in the infamous Tier 1A at Abu Ghraib's torture center painted his face silver and black in the pattern of the rock group Insane Clown Posse, while he was on duty and posed for one of the many photos that documented prisoner abuse. We will have much more to say later about deindividuation processes as they contributed to the Abu Ghraib abuses. Cognitive Dissonance That Rationalizes Evil An interesting consequence of playing a role publicly that is contrary to one's pri vate beliefs is the creation of cognitive dissonance. When there is a discrepancy be tween our behavior and beliefs, and when actions do not follow from relevant attitudes, a condition of cognitive dissonance is created. Dissonance is a state of tension that can powerfully motivate change either in one's public behavior or in one's private views in efforts to reduce the dissonance. People will go to remark-

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performance. Thus, this group of ordinary pupils proved the "Pygmalion Effect" by becoming what they were expected to be—academically outstanding. Sadly, the opposite is likely to occur even more frequently when teachers expect poor performance from certain kinds of pupils—from minority backgrounds or in some classes even from male students. Teachers then unconsciously treat them in ways that validate those negative stereotypes, and those students performing less well than they are capable. In the SPE, the student volunteers could have elected to quit at any time. No guns or legal statutes bound them to their imprisonment, only a subject selection form on which they promised to do their best to last the full two weeks. The con tract was merely a research contract between university researchers, a university human subjects research committee, and university students—all assumed ini tially that they could exercise free will and leave whenever they chose not to con tinue. However, as was obvious in the events that unfolded on the second day, the prisoners came to believe that it was a prison being run by psychologists and not by the State. They persuaded themselves, based on the quip by Doug-8612, that no one could leave of his own volition. Thus, none of them ever said, "I quit this experiment." Instead, the exit strategy for many became the passive one of forc ing us to release them because of their extreme psychological distress. Their social construction of this new reality cemented them in the oppressive situation being created by the guards' capricious and hostile actions. The prisoners themselves became their own guards. Another aspect of the way social reality was constructed in this research lies in the "release deal" that prisoners were offered at the end of their parole hearing. We framed the situation in terms of the power of the parole board to grant a pa role if a prisoner were willing to forfeit all the money he had earned as a "pris oner." Even though most acquiesced to this deal, being willing to leave without any remuneration for the days they had in fact worked as "research subjects," none made the slightest attempt to leave at that point—to quit "the experiment." Instead, they accepted the social reality of parole over that of personal liberty to act in one's best self-interest. Each one allowed himself to be handcuffed, his head hooded, and led away from this near freedom back down to the prison dungeon. Dehumanization: The Other as Nothing Worthwhile Kill a Gook for God —Penned on helmet of a U.S. soldier in Vietnam One of the worst things that we can do to our fellow human beings is deprive them of their humanity, render them worthless by exercising the psychological process of dehumanization. This occurs when the "others" are thought not to possess the same feelings, thoughts, values, and purposes in life that we do. Any human qualities that these "others" share with us are diminished or are erased from our awareness. This is accomplished by the psychological mechanisms of intellectualization, denial, and the isolation of affect. In contrast to human rela tionships, which are subjective, personal, and emotional, dehumanized relation ships are objectifying, analytical, and empty of emotional or empathic content. To use Martin Buber's terms, humanized relationships are "I-Thou," while dehumanized relationships are "I—It." Over time, the dehumanizing agent is often sucked into the negativity of the experience, and then the "I" itself changes, to produce an "It-It" relationship between objects, or between agency and victim. The misperception of certain others as subhuman, bad humans, inhuman, infra- human, dispensable, or "animals" is facilitated by means of labels, stereotypes, slogans, and propaganda images.2 4 Sometimes dehumanization serves an adaptive function for an agent who must suspend his or her usual emotional response in an emergency, a crisis, or a work situation that demands invading the privacy of others. Surgeons may have to do so when performing operations that violate another person's body, as may first responders to a disaster. The same is often true when a job requires process ing large numbers of people in one's caseload or daily schedule. Within some car ing professions, such as clinical psychology, social work, and medicine, this process is called "detached concern." The actor is put into the paradoxical posi tion of having to dehumanize clients in order to better assist or cure them.2 5 Dehumanization typically facilitates abusive and destructive actions toward those so objectified. It is hard to imagine that the following characterizations made by our guards were directed toward their prisoners—other college students who, but for a fateful coin flip, would have been wearing their uniforms: "I made them call each other names and clean toilets out with their bare hands. I practi cally considered the prisonersc attle, and I kept thinking I have to watch out for them in case they try something." Or, from another of the SPE guards: "I was tired of seeing the prisoners in their rags and smelling the strong odors of their bodies that filled the cells. I watched them tear at each other on orders given by us." The Stanford Prison Experiment created an ecology of dehumanization, just as real prisons do, in a host of direct, constantly repeated messages. It started with the loss of freedom and extended to the loss of privacy and finally to the loss of personal identity. It separated inmates from their past, their community, and their families and substituted for their normal reality a current reality that forced them to live with other prisoners in an anonymous cell with virtually no personal space. External, coercive rules and arbitrary decisions by guards dictated their be havior. More subtly, in our prison, as in all prisons I know about, emotions were suppressed, inhibited, and distorted. Tender, caring emotions were absent among both guards and prisoners after only a few days. In institutional settings, the expression of human emotions is contained to the extent that they represent impulsive, often unpredictable individual reactions when uniformity of mass reactions is the expected norm. Our prisoners were de humanized in many ways by the treatment of the guards and by degrading insti tutional procedures. However, they soon added to their own dehumanization by suppressing their emotional responses except when they "broke down." Emotions are essential to humanness. Holding emotions in check is essential in prisons be cause emotions are a sign of weakness that reveal one's vulnerability both to the guards and to other prisoners. We will explore more fully the destructive effects of dehumanization as it relates to moral disengagement in chapter 13. SERENDIPITY SHINES ITS SPOTLIGHT ON THE SPE What transformed our experiment into a major example of the psychology of evil was a series of dramatic, unexpected events that occurred shortly after our study ended—a massacre at California's San Quentin State Prison and a massacre at New York State's Attica Correctional Facility. These two events helped to catapult into national prominence a little academic experiment designed to test a theoreti cal notion of situational power. Here I will only outline key aspects of these events and their consequences for the SPE and me. Please seew w w . l u c i f e r e f f e c t . c o m for a fuller treatment of the details along with the concurrent rise of the Black Pan ther Party and the Weather Underground radical student group. The day after the SPE was terminated, a number of guards and prisoners were killed at San Quentin Prison in an alleged escape attempt headed by the black political prison activist George Jackson. Three weeks later, across the coun try in upstate New York, prisoners rioted at Attica Prison. They took over the prison and held nearly forty guards and civilian staff as hostages for five days. In stead of negotiating the prisoners' demands to change their conditions of oppres sion and the dehumanization they were experiencing, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered state troopers to retake the prison by all means necessary. They shot and killed more than forty of the inmates and hostages in the yard and wounded many others. The temporal proximity of these two events put prison conditions on center stage. I was invited to give testimonies to several congres sional committees based on extensions of what I had learned from the SPE to pris ons in general. I also became an expert witness for one of the six prisoners involved in the San Quentin State Prison massacre. Around that time, a media correspondent who saw me in a televised debate with San Quentin's associate warden decided to do a documentary on the SPE on national television (NBC's Chronolog, November 1971). A Life magazine feature soon followed, and the SPE was off and running. PUTTING THE SPE INTO ITS ZEITGEIST FRAME To appreciate more fully the extent of the character transformations in our stu dent prisoners and guards that were induced by their experience in our mock prison, it is well to consider the Zeitgeist of the late 1 9 6 0 s and early 1 9 7 0 s . It was a time to reject authority, to "trust no one over thirty," to oppose the "military/ industrial establishment," to participate in antiwar rallies, to join in civil rights and women's rights causes. It was a time for young people to rebel against the rigid societal and parental conformity that had so restricted their parents in the 1950s. It was a time to experiment with sex, drugs, and rock and roll and to let your hair grow long, "to let it all hang out." It was a time to be a "hippie," to go to "be-ins" and "love-ins," to be a San Francisco "flower child" with flowers in your hair, to be a pacifist, and especially to be an individualist. The Harvard psycholo gist Timothy Leary, that generation's intellectual acid guru, offered a triple pre scription for young people everywhere: "tune out" of traditional society; "turn on" to mind-altering drugs; and "tune in" to one's inner nature. The rise of the Youth Culture, with its dramatic rebellion against injustice and oppression, was centered on the immorality of the Vietnam War, its obscene daily body counts, and an administration unwilling to admit its error, cut bait and exit for seven bloody years. These values were in the wind blowing across European and Asian youth movements. Europeans were even more militant than their American counterparts in vigorously challenging the establishment. They openly rebelled against both political and academic orthodoxy. In direct opposi tion to what they considered reactionary, repressive regimes, students in Paris, Berlin, and Milan "manned the barricades." Many were socialists who challenged fascist and Communist totalitarianism, and they deplored the financial restric tions on access to higher education. The student volunteers in our study, as a group, emerged from this youth cul ture of rebellion, personal experimentation, and the rejection of authority and conformity. We might have expected the subjects in our experiment to be more re sistant to institutional forces than they were, to resist complying with the domi nance of the "System" that I imposed on them. We did not anticipate that they would adopt such a power-prone mentality when they became guards because none of our volunteers preferred to be a guard when he was given that option. Even Tough Guard Hellmann wanted to be a prisoner rather than a guard, be cause, as he told us, "most people resent guards." Virtually all of our student volunteers felt that becoming a prisoner was a more likely possibility for them in the future; they were not going to college in order to get jobs as prison guards, and they might get arrested for various minor infractions someday. I take this to mean that there was not a predilection among those assigned to be guards to be abusive or domineering in the ways they later were. They did not bring into the Stanford Prison Experiment any tendencies to harm, abuse, or dominate others. If anything, we might say they brought in ten dencies to be caring of other people in accordance with the contemporary social conditioning of their era. Similarly, there was no reason to expect the students role-playing prisoners to break down so quickly, if at all, given their initially posi tive mental and physical health. It is important to keep this temporal and cultural context in mind when considering later attempted replications of our study by researchers in totally different eras. WHY SYSTEMS MATTER THE MOST The most important lesson to be derived from the SPE is that Situations are cre ated bySystem s. Systems provide the institutional support, authority, and re sources that allow Situations to operate as they do. After we have outlined all the situational features of the SPE, we discover that a key question is rarely posed: "Who or what made it happen that way?" Who had the power to design the be havioral setting and to maintain its operation in particular ways? Therefore, who should be held responsible for its consequences and outcomes? Who gets the credit for successes, and who is blamed for failures? The simple answer in the case of the SPE is—me! However, finding that answer is not such a simple matter when we deal with complex organizations, such as failing educational or correctional systems, corrupt megacorporations, or the system that was created at Abu Ghraib Prison. System Power involves authorization or institutionalized permission to be have in prescribed ways or to forbid and punish actions that are contrary to them. It provides the "higher authority" that gives validation to playing new roles, fol lowing new rules, and taking actions that would ordinarily be constrained by pre existing laws, norms, morals, and ethics. Such validation usually comes cloaked in the mantle ofideology. Ideology is a slogan or proposition that usually legiti mizes whatever means are necessary to attain an ultimate goal. Ideology is the "Big Kahuna," which is not challenged or even questioned because it is so appar ently "right" for the majority in a particular time and place. Those in authority present the program as good and virtuous, as a highly valuable moral imperative. The programs, policies, and standard operating procedures that are devel oped to support an ideology become an essential component of the System. The System's procedures are considered reasonable and appropriate as the ideology comes to be accepted as sacred. During the era when fascist military juntas governed around the world from the Mediterranean to Latin America, from the 1960s to 1970s, dictators always sounded their call to arms as the necessary defense against a "threat to national security" allegedly posed by socialists or Communists. Eliminating that threat ne cessitated state-sanctioned torture by the military and civil police. It also legiti mized assassination by death squads of all suspected "enemies of the state." In the United States at the present time, the same alleged threats to national security have frightened citizens into willingly sacrificing their basic civil rights to gain an illusion of security. That ideology in turn has been the centerpiece justify ing a preemptive war of aggression against Iraq. That ideology was created by the System in power, which in turn created new subordinate Systems of war manage ment, homeland security management, and military prison management—or absence thereof, in default of serious postwar planning. My scholarly fascination with the mind control strategy and tactics outlined in George Orwell's classic novel 1984 2 6 should have made me aware of System power sooner in my professional life. "Big Brother" is the System that ultimately crushes individual initiative and the will to resist its intrusions. For many years, discussion of the SPE did not even include a Systems-level analysis because the original dialogue was framed as the contest between the dispositional and situa tional ways of understanding human behavior. I ignored the bigger problem of considering that framing provided by the System. It was really only after I became engaged in understanding the dynamics of the widespread abuses in the many military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Cuba that the Systems level of analysis became glaringly obvious. The Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman showed that the tragic disas ter of the space shuttleC hallenger was due not to human error but to a systemic problem with "official management." NASA's top guns insisted on the launch de spite the doubts of both of their engineers and the expressed concerns of the manufacturer of a critical component (which became the flawed O-ring that caused the disaster). Feynman argues that NASA's motivation may well have been "to assure the government of NASA perfection and success in order to ensure the supply of funds."27 In later chapters, we will adopt the point of view that Systems as well as Situations matter to aid in our understanding of what went wrong at the Stanford and Abu Ghraib Prisons. In contrast to NASA's system that failed when it tried to live up to its politi cally motivated slogan of "faster, better, cheaper" was the horrific success of the Nazi system of mass extermination. Here was a tightly integrated top-down system of Hitler's cabinet, the National Socialist politicians, bankers, Gestapo officers, SS troops, engineers, doctors, architects, chemists, educators, train con ductors, and more, each doing its part in this concentrated attempt at the geno cide of all European Jews and other enemies of the State. Concentration camps had to be built, along with extermination camps and their specifically designed crematoria, and new forms of lethally effective poison gas had to be perfected. Propaganda specialists had to design campaigns in film, newspapers, magazines, and posters that denigrated and dehumanized the Jews as a menace. Teachers and preachers had to prepare the youth to become blindly obedient Nazis who could justify engaging in the "final solution of the Jewish question."28 A new language had to be developed with innocuous-sounding words concealing the truth of human cruelty and destruction, such as:Sonderbehandlung (special treatment);Sonderak tion (special action),Um siedlung (resettlement), and Evakuierrung (evacuation). "Special treatment" was the code name for the physical extermination of people, sometimes shortened to SB for efficiency SS head Reinhard Heydrich outlined basic principles of security during the war in a 1 9 3 9 statement: "A distinction must be made between those who may be dealt with in the usual way and those who must be given special treatment[Sonderb eh andlung]. The latter case covers subjects who, due to their most objectionable nature, their dangerousness, or their ability to serve as tools of propaganda for the enemy, are suitable for elimination, without respect for persons, by merciless treatment (usu ally by execution)."2 9 For the Nazi doctors who were enlisted to make the selections of inmates for extermination or experimentation, there was often a question of split loyalty—"of conflicting oaths, contradictions between murderous cruelty and momentary kindness which SS doctors seemed to manifest continuously during their time in Auschwitz. For the schism tended not to be resolved. Its persistence was part of the overall psychological equilibrium that enabled the SS doctor to do his deadly work. He became integrated into a large, brutal, highly functional system. . . . Auschwitz was a collective effort."30 CHAPTER ELEVEN The SPE: Ethics and Extensions We've traveled too far, and our momentum has taken over: We move idly towards eternity, without possibility of reprieve or hope of explanation. —Tom Stoppard,Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Act 3 (1967) We have seen the way in which the momentum of the simulated Stanford Prison took over the lives of those within its walls—mostly for the worse. In the previous chapter, I sketched a rough answer to the question of how people could be so swiftly and radically transformed. In particular, I pointed out the ways in which situational and systemic forces operated in tandem to spoil the fruits of human nature. Our young research participants were not the proverbial "Bad Apples" in an otherwise good barrel. Rather, our experimental design ensured that they were initially good apples and were corrupted by the insidious power of the bad barrel, this prison. Of course, compared to the toxic and lethal nature of real civilian and military prisons, our Stanford Prison was relatively benign. The changes in the ways our volunteer participants thought, felt, and behaved in this environment were the consequences of known psychological processes that operate on all of us in various ways in many situations—albeit not so intensely, pervasively, and re lentlessly. They were enmeshed in a "total situation" whose impact was greater than most ordinary situations that we move into and out of repeatedly at will.1 Consider the possibility that each of us has the potential, or mental tem plates, to be saint or sinner, altruistic or selfish, gentle or cruel, submissive or dominant, sane or mad, good or evil. Perhaps we are born with a full range of ca pacities, each of which is activated and developed depending on the social and cultural circumstances that govern our lives. I will argue that the potential for perversion is inherent in the very processes that make human beings do all the wonderful things we do. Each of us is the end product of the complex develop ment and specialization that have grown out of millions of years of evolution, growth, adaptation, and coping. Our species has reached its special place on Earth because of our remarkable capacity for learning, for language, for reason ing, for inventing, and for imagining new and better futures. Every human being has the potential to perfect the skills, talents, and attributes we need to go beyond surviving to thrive in and enhance our human condition. THE PERVERSION OF HUMAN PERFECTIBILITY Could some of the world's evil result from ordinary people operating in circum stances that selectively elicit bad behavior from their natures? Let's answer such a question with a few general examples and then refocus on the normal human processes that became degraded in the SPE. Memory enables us to profit from mis takes and build upon the known to create better futures. However, with memory come grudges, revenge, learned helplessness, and the rumination over trauma that feeds depression. Likewise, our extraordinary ability to use language and symbols enables us to communicate with others personally, abstractly, over time and place. Language provides the foundation for history, planning, and social control. However, with language come rumors, lies, propaganda, stereotypes, and coercive rules. Our remarkable creative genius leads to great literature, drama, music, science, and inventions like the computer and the Internet. Yet that same creativity can be perverted into inventing torture chambers and tor ture tactics, into paranoid ideologies and the Nazis' efficient system of mass mur der. Any one of our special attributes contains the possibility of its opposite negative, as in the dichotomies of love-hate; pride-arrogance; self-esteem- self-loathing.2 The fundamental human need to belong comes from the desire to associate with others, to cooperate, to accept group norms. However, the SPE shows that the need to belong can also be perverted into excessive conformity, compliance, and in-group versus out-group hostility. The need for autonomy and control, the central forces toward self-direction and planning, can be perverted into an exces sive exercise of power to dominate others or into learned helplessness. Consider three more such needs that can cut both ways. First, needs for consis tency and rationality give meaningful and wise direction to our lives. Yet dissonant commitments force us to honor and rationalize wrong-headed decisions, such as prisoners remaining when they should have quit and guards justifying their abuse. Second,needs to know and to understand our environment and our relationship to it lead to curiosity, scientific discovery, philosophy, the humanities, and art. But a capricious, arbitrary environment that does not make sense can pervert those basic needs and lead to frustration and self-isolation (as it did in our prisoners). And finally, our need for stimulation triggers explorations and adventurous risk taking, but it can also make us vulnerable to boredom when we are placed in a static setting. Boredom, in turn, can become a powerful motivator of actions as we saw with the SPE night shift guards to have fun with their "playthings." However, let me make clear one critical point: understanding the "why" of what was done does not excuse "what" was done. Psychological analysis is not "excusiology." Individuals and groups who behave immorally or illegally must still be held responsible and legally accountable for their complicity and crimes. However, in determining the severity of their sentence, the situational and sys temic factors that caused their behavior must be taken into account.3 In the next two chapters, we will move beyond the SPE to review a large body of psychological research that complements and extends the arguments made so far about the power of situational forces in shaping human thinking and acting. Before moving on, we have go back to deal with some final, critical issues that were raised by this experiment. First, and most important, was the suffering worth it? There is no question that people suffered during this experiment. Those who made them suffer also had to deal with the recognition that they had gone beyond the demands of their role to inflict pain and humiliation on others for hours on end. Therefore, the ethics in this and similar research demand careful consideration. Virtue, as Dante showed in theI nferno, is not simply refraining from sin; it re quires action. Here I will discuss how paralysis of action worked in the SPE. In the next chapter, I will consider the broader implications of failure to act for society, as when passive bystanders fail to intervene when their help is needed. In addition to dealing with the ethical errors of omission and with absolute ethics, we must focus in depth on the relative ethics that guide most scientific re search. A central balance in the equation of relative ethics requires weighing pain against gain. Was the pain endured by the participants in this experiment offset by the gain to science and society generated by the research? In other words, did the scientific ends justify the experimental means? While there were many posi tive consequences that flowed from the study, the reader will have to decide for him or herself whether the study should ever have been done. Research that provokes thought breeds other research and invites exten sions, as the SPE did. After reflecting on the SPE's ethics, we will briefly review some of the replications and applications of this study that offer a broader context for appreciating its significance. ETHICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE SPE Was the SPE study unethical? In several ways, the answer must surely be "Yes." However, there are other ways of viewing this research that provide a reasonable "No." Before we look at evidence in this retrospective analysis in support of each of these alternatives, I need to make clear why I am even discussing these matters decades after the study is over and done. Having focused much personal attention on these ethical issues, I believe that I can bring a broader perspective to this dis cussion than is typical. Other researchers may benefit by avoiding similar pitfalls if they become aware of some subtle warning signs, and also by engaging greater sensitivity to ethical safeguards that the SPE highlighted. Without being defensive or rationalizing my role in this study, I will use this research as a vehicle for outlining the complexity of ethical judgments involved in research that entails in terventions in human functioning. First, let us consider the category of the ethics of intervention. That will provide a foundation for comparing absolute ethics to the relative ethics that guide experimental research. The Ethics of Intervention Every act of intervention in the life of an individual, a group, or an environment is a matter of ethics (the radical therapist R. D. Laing would say it is a "political de cision"). The following diverse groups share common objectives: therapists, sur geons, counselors, experimentalists, educators, urban planners, architects, social reformers, public health agents, cult leaders, used-car salespeople, and our par ents. They all subscribe to one of these objectives: cure, behavior modification, recommendations for action, training, teaching, mind alteration, control, change, monetary allocation, construction, or discipline—in sum, various forms of inter vention that directly affect our lives or do so indirectly by changing human envi ronments. Most agents of intervention initially intend benefits to the target of change and/or society. However, it is their subjective values that determine the cost- benefit ratio and raise critical ethical questions for us to consider. We take for granted the value of the powerful socializing influences parents exert on their children in shaping them to their image and toward a socially, politically, and re ligiously imposed ideal. Should we care that parents do so without obtaining their children's informed consent? Seems like an idle question until one considers par ents who help indoctrinate their children into hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, destructive cults, or terrorist cells, or into prostitution. To put a finer point on the issue, "parental rights of domain" are usually not questioned—even when they teach children intolerance and prejudice—except when parents are excessively abusive in getting their way. But what can we say about the case of a father who wanted his son to be more patriotic, ostensibly a reasonable goal in almost all societies? The father in question wrote to a medical doctor whose advice column ran in a nationally circulated magazine: "I love my country and want my boy to love it too. Is it O.K. for me to give him a little pep talk while he's asleep; no big deal, just some patriotic stuff?" At one level, Dad is asking if this tactic will work; is there evidence that sleep learning can be effective in delivering such below-consciousness persuasive mes sages? (The answer is that there is no supporting evidence.) At another level, Dad is raising an ethical question: Is it ethical for him to indoctrinate his defenseless child in this way? Would it be ethical if he did so when the child was awake or if he used monetary reinforcement or social approval instead of this dubious tech nique? Is it his goal or his means that some might find ethically offensive? Would it be preferable instead for this anxious father to rely upon the more subtle indoctrination devices that are disguised as "education" in the classroom: national flags; pictures of national leaders; national anthems; prayers; and being forced to read historical narratives and geography and civics textbooks that often give a bi ased view of history and are designed by every society as propaganda to maintain the status quo? The point here is that we must increase our collective sensitivity to the broad range of daily situations where interventions occur as a "natural" process of social life and where a violation of ethics goes unnoticed because of its prevalent and insidious presence. ABSOLUTE ETHICS For the sake of brevity, we may say that ethics can be categorized as "absolute" or "relative." When behavior is guided by absolute ethical standards, a higher-order moral principle that is invariant with regard to the conditions of its applicability can be postulated—across time, situations, persons, and expediency. Such ab solute ethics are embodied in communal codes of conduct. These codes are often based upon adherence to a set of explicit principles, as in the Ten Commandments or the Bill of Rights. Such absolute ethics allow no degree of freedom that might justify means to an end or circumstances that might qualify instances where the principle is suspended or applied in an altered, watered-down form. In the ex treme, no extenuating circumstances can justify an abrogation of the ethical standard. An absolute ethical standard postulates that because human life is sacred it must not in any way be demeaned, however unintentionally. In the case of re search, there is no justification for any experiment that induces human suffering. From such a position, it is even reasonable to maintain that no research should be conducted in psychology or medicine that violates the biological or psychological integrity of any human being regardless of the benefit that might, or even defi nitely accrue to the society at large. Those who adopt this perspective argue that even if the actions that cause suffering are conducted in the name of science, for the sake of knowledge, "na tional security," or any other high-flying abstraction—they are unethical. Within psychology, those closely identified with the humanist tradition have been most vocal in urging that the basic concern for human dignity must take precedence over the stated goals of the discipline, namely, to predict and control behavior. The SPE Was Absolutely Unethical On the basis of such an absolute ethic, the Stanford Prison Experiment must cer tainly be judged unethical because human beings did suffer considerable an guish. People suffered much more than they could have reasonably anticipated when they volunteered for an academic study of "prison life" that was being con ducted at a prestigious university. Moreover, that suffering escalated over time and resulted in such extreme stress and emotional turmoil that five of the sample of initially healthy young prisoners had to be released early. The guards also suffered from the realization of what they had done under the cloak of their role and behind their anonymity-engendering sunglasses. They could see and hear the pain and humiliation they were causing to fellow students who had done nothing to deserve such brutality. Their realization of their unde niably excessive abuse of the prisoners was much greater than the distress experi enced by participants in Stanley Milgram's classic research on "blind obedience to authority," which we will review in depth in the next chapter.4 That research has been challenged as unethical because participants couldim agine the pain they were supposedly inflicting by shocking a remote victim, the "learner."5 But as soon as the study ended they discovered that the "victim" was really an experi mental confederate who had never been hurt but only pretended to be. Their dis tress came from their awareness of what they might have done had the shocks been real. In contrast, the distress of our guards came from their awareness that their "shocks" to the prisoners were all real, direct, and continual. An additional feature of the study that would qualify it as unethical was not disclosing in advance the nature of the arrests and formal booking at police head quarters to the students who had been assigned to the prisoner role or to their parents, who were caught off guard by this unexpected Sunday intrusion into their lives. We were also guilty of manipulating parents into thinking the situa tion of their sons was not as bad as it was by the various deceptive and control procedures we inaugurated on Visiting Nights. If you recall, we worried that par ents would take their sons home if they fully realized the abusive nature of this mock prison. To forestall such action, which would have ended the study, we put on a "show" for them. We did so not only to keep our prison intact but also as a basic ingredient of our prison simulation, because such deceptions are usual in many systems under investigation by oversight committees. By putting out a good-looking red carpet, system managers counter complaints and concerns about the negative aspects of their situation. Another reason for considering the SPE as unethical is the failure to termi nate the study sooner than we did. I should have called it quits after the second prisoner suffered a severe stress disorder on Day 3. That should have been suffi cient evidence that Doug-8612 was not faking his emotional reaction and break down on the previous day. We should have stopped after the next and the next and the next prisoners suffered extreme disorders. But we did not. It is likely, however, that I would have terminated the study on Sunday, at the end of a full week, as a "natural ending," had not Christina Maslach's intervention forced premature clo sure. I might have ended it after one week because I and the small staff of Curt Banks and David Jaffe were exhausted from dealing with the around-the-clock lo gistics and the need to contain the guards' escalating abuses. In retrospect, I believe that the main reason I did not end the study sooner, when it began to get out of hand, resulted from the conflict created in me by my dual roles as principal investigator, and thus guardian of the research ethics of the experiment, and as prison superintendent, eager to maintain the integrity and stability of my prison at all costs. I would like to believe that had someone else been playing the superintendent's role, I would have seen the light and blown the whistle sooner. I now realize that there should have been someone with authority above mine, someone in charge of oversight of the experiment. However, neither the members of the Human Subjects Research Committee nor I imagined in advance that any such external authority was necessary in an experiment where college students had the freedom to stay or go anytime the going became rougher than they could handle. Before the experiment, it was just "kids going to play cops and robbers," and it was hard to imagine what could hap pen within a few days. It would have been good to have had advance hindsight operating. I am sure that had this experiment been conducted in more recent times, the students and their parents would have filed lawsuits against the university and me. But the 1 9 7 0 s were a less litigious time in the United States than has existed since then. No legal charges were ever filed, and there were only a few attacks on the ethics of this research by professional colleagues.6 Indeed, it was I who re quested a postexperiment ethics evaluation by the American Psychological Asso ciation in July 1973, which determined that the existing ethical guidelines had been followed. Nevertheless, I do feel responsible for creating an institution that gave per mission for such abuses to occur within the context of the "psychology of impris onment." The experiment succeeded all too well in creating some of what is worst in real prisons, but the findings came at the expense of human suffering. I am sorry for that and to this day apologize for contributing to this inhumanity. RELATIVE ETHICS Most research follows a utilitarian ethics model. When an ethical principle admits of contingent applications, its standard is relative and it is to be judged on prag matic criteria weighted according to utilitarian principles. Obviously such a model guided this research, as it does most psychological experimentation. But what ele ments are considered in the cost-gain equation? How are the loss and gain to be proportionately weighted? Who is to judge whether the gain offsets the loss? These are some of the questions that must be faced if a position of relative ethics is deemed to be ethical at all. Some solutions are resolved on the basis of conventional wisdom, meaning the present state of relevant knowledge, precedents in similar cases, social con sensus, the values and sensitivity of the individual researcher, and the level of consciousness prevailing in the given society at a particular time. Research insti tutions, funding agencies, and governments also establish strict guidelines for and restrictions on all medical and nonmedical human research. At the core of the ethical dilemma for social scientists is: Can a given re searcher create a balance between what he or she believes is necessary for the conduct of socially or theoretically useful research and what is thought necessary to the well-being and dignity of the research participants? Since researchers' self- serving biases may push them more nearly toward the former than the latter, ex ternal reviewers, particularly grant reviewers and institutional review boards (IRBs), must serve as ombudspersons for the relatively powerless participants. However, these external reviewers must also act in the interest of "science" and "society" in determining whether, and to what degree, some deception, emotional arousal, or other aversive states can be permitted in a given experiment. They op erate on the assumption that any negative impact of such procedures is transient and not likely to endure beyond the limits of the experiment. Let us consider next how those competing interests were served in the SPE. On the relativist side of the ethical argument, one could contend that the SPE was not unethical because of the following: The legal counsel of Stanford Univer sity was consulted, drew up a formal "informed consent" statement, and told us of the work, safety, and insurance requirements we had to satisfy for them to ap prove the experiment. The "informed consent" statement signed by every partici pant specified that during the experiment there would be an invasion of his privacy; prisoners would have only a minimally adequate diet, would lose some of their civil rights, and would experience harassment. All were expected to com plete their two-week contract to the best of their ability. The Student Health De partment was alerted to our study and prior arrangements were made for any medical care subjects might need. Approval was officially sought and received in writing from the agency sponsoring the research, the Group Effectiveness Branch of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Stanford Psychology Department, and Stanford's Institutional Review Board (IRB).7 Aside from having the subjects arrested by police, there was no deception of the participants. Moreover, my staff and I repeatedly reminded the guards not to be physically abusive to the prisoners, individually or collectively. However, we did not extend the mandate to restrict psychological abuse. Another factor that complicates assessing the ethics of this study is that our prison was open to inspection by outsiders, who should have protected the rights of the participants. Imagine you were a prisoner suffering in this setting. If you were a prisoner in our jail, who would you have wanted as your supporter? Who might have pressed the "Exit" button for you if you were unable to press it your self? Would it have been the Catholic priest/prison chaplain when he saw you cry ing? Not a chance. How about your mom and pop. friends, family? Wouldn't they intervene after they noticed that your condition was deteriorating? None ever did. Maybe help would have come from one of the many professional psychologists, graduate students, secretaries, or staff of the Psychology Department, some of whom watched live-action videos of parts of the study, took part in Parole Board hearings, or spoke to participants during interviews or when they were in the storage closet during the "break-in" fiasco. No help for you from that source. As noted, each of these onlookers fell into playing a passive role. They all ac cepted my framing of the situation, which blinded them to the real picture. They also intellectualized because the simulation seemed real; or because of the real ism of the role-playing; or because they focused solely on the minutiae of the ex perimental design. Moreover, the bystanders did not see the more severe abuses as they were unfolding, nor were the participants willing to disclose them fully to outsiders, even to close friends and families. They were driven, perhaps, by embar rassment, pride, or a sense of "manliness." So many came and looked but did not see and just walked away. Finally, what we did right was to engage in extensive debriefing, not just for three hours following the experiment but also on several subsequent occasions when most of the participants returned to review the videos and see a slide show of the study. I maintained contact with most of the participants for several years after the conclusion of the experiment, sending copies of articles, my congres sional testimony, news clippings, and notices of upcoming TV shows on the SPE. Over the years, about a half dozen of the participants have joined me in some of these national broadcasts. I am still in contact with a few of them more than three decades later. What was important about the extensive debriefing sessions was that they gave the participants a chance to openly express their strong feelings and to gain a new understanding of themselves and their unusual behavior in a novel, alien setting. Our method was a form of "process debriefing"8 in which we made ex plicit that some effects and beliefs that are developed in an experiment can last be yond the limits of the experiment. We explained the reasons they should not in this special case. I emphasized that what they had done was diagnostic of the negative nature of the prison situation that we had created for them and was not diagnostic of their personalities. I reminded them that they had been carefully se lected, precisely because they were normal and healthy, and that they had been assigned randomly to one or the other of the two roles. They did not bring any pathology into the place; rather, the place elicited pathology of various kinds from them. In addition, I informed them that their peers likewise had done almost any thing that any one prisoner did that was demeaning or disordered. The same was true of most of the guards, who at some time were abusive of the prisoners. They behaved as they did in the role exactly as their shift mates had. I also tried to make the debriefing a lesson on "moral education" by explicitly discussing the moral conflicts we all faced throughout the study. A pioneering theorist in moral development, Larry Kohlberg. has argued that such discussions within the context of moral conflict are the primary, perhaps the only way to in crease an individual's level of moral development.9 Recall that the data from the mood adjective checklist showed that both prisoners and guards had returned to a more balanced emotional state following the debriefing session, to reach levels comparable to their emotional conditions at the start of the study. The relatively short duration of the negative impact of this in tense experience on the participants can be ascribed to three factors: First, these youngsters all had a sound psychological and personal foundation to bounce back to after the study ended. Second, the experience was unique to and con tained in that time, setting, costumes, and script, all of which could be left behind as a package of their "SPE adventure" and not reactivated in the future. Third, our detailed debriefing took the guards and prisoners off the hook for behaving badly and identified the features of the situation that had influenced them. Positive Consequences to the Participants In the traditional accounts of the relative ethics of research, in order for any re search to be sanctioned it is necessary for the gain to science, medicine, and/or so ciety to outweigh the cost to the participants. Although such a gain-cost ratio seems appropriate, I now want to challenge this method of accounting. The costs to the participants ("subjects" in the days of the SPE) were real, immediate, and often tangible. In contrast, whatever gains were anticipated when the study was designed or approval given were merely probable and distant and perhaps might never be realized. Much promising research does not yield significant results and thus is not even published and circulated in the scientific community. Even signifi cant published findings may not translate into practice, and practice may not prove feasible or practical when scaled up to the level of social benefits. On the other hand, some basic research that had no obvious application when originally conceived has turned out to yield important applications. For example, basic re search on the conditioning of the autonomic nervous system has led directly to the use of biofeedback as a therapeutic aid in health care.1 0 Moreover, most re searchers have shown little interest or talent in the "social engineering" applica tions of their findings to personal and social problems. Taken together, these criticisms say that the lofty "gain" side of the research ethical equation may not be met either in principle or practice, while the pain part remains a net loss as well as a gross loss to participants and society. Also singularly missing from this ethical equation is concern for the netgain to the participants. Do they benefit in some way from having been part of a given research project? For instance, does their financial remuneration offset the dis tress they experience from taking part in medical research assessing aspects of pain? Do people value the knowledge they accrue as research participants? Do they learn something special about themselves from the research experience? Adequate, detailed debriefing is essential to realize this secondary objective of human subjects research. (For an example of how this can be achieved in one of my experiments on induced psychopathology. see notes.1 1) But such gains cannot be assumed or hoped for: they must be demonstrated empirically as outcome measures of any study conducted with a prior sense of its "questionable ethics." Also absent from most considerations of research ethics is the obligation incumbent on researchers to engage in a special kind of social activism that makes their research useful to their field of knowledge and to the improvement of their society. I would like to balance the SPE's ethics slate a bit by first noting some remark able profits it had to both its participants and staff. Then I will outline some of the social activism that I have engaged in over the past three or more decades to en sure that the value of this experiment has been realized as fully as possible. Unexpected Personal Gains to SPE Participants and Staff A number of unexpectedly positive effects emerged from this study that have had lasting impact on some of the participants and staff. In general, most of the par ticipants indicated on their final follow-up evaluations (submitted from home at varying times after the study) that it was a valuable personal learning experience. These positives help balance, to some extent, the obvious negatives of the prison experience, as we note that none of the participants would volunteer for a similar study again. Let's examine some of the positive aftershocks of the SPE, taken from their evaluations. Doug, Prisoner 8612,a ringleader of the prisoner rebellion, was the first prisoner to suffer an extreme emotional stress reaction. His response forced us to release him after only thirty-six hours. The experience was truly disturbing for him, as he said in an interview during the filming of our documentary, Quiet Rage: The Stanford Prison Experiment:"As an experience it was unique, I've never screamed so loud in my life; I've never been so upset in my life. It was an experience of being out of control, both of the situation and of my feelings. Maybe I've always had dif ficulties with losing control. I wanted to understand myself, so I went into psy chology [after the SPE]. I'll go into psychology and I'll learn what makes a person tick so I won't be so afraid of the unknown."1 2 In a follow-up evaluation that he completed five years after the study, Doug revealed that he started to simulate extreme distress in order to be released, but then that role got to him. "I figured the only way I could get out of the experiment was to play sick, first physical. Then when that didn't work I played at mental fa tigue. However, the energy it took to get into that space, and the mere fact that I could be so upset, upset me." How upset? He reported that his girlfriend told him that he was so upset and nervous that he talked about the experiment constantly for two months afterward. Doug went on to get a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, in part to learn how to gain greater control over his emotions and behavior. He did his dissertation on shame (of the prisoner status) and guilt (of the guard status), completing his in ternship at San Quentin State Prison, rather than in the usual medical/clinical setting, and has been a forensic psychologist in the San Francisco and California corrections systems for more than twenty years. It was his moving testimony that gave us the title of our video, Quiet Rage, as he talked about the sadistic impulse in guards that must be guarded against because it is always there in situations of dif ferential power—ready to slip out, to explode, as a kind of "quiet rage." Part of Doug's career has focused on helping inmates maintain a sense of dignity despite their surroundings, and to enable guards and prisoners to coexist more amicably. This is a case of the initial strongly negative effect of the SPE being transformed into insight that has had enduring consequences for the individual and society. There was much pain and much gain to the same research subject. Guard Hellmann, the tough "John Wayne" macho guard, has been featured in all of the televised portrayals of the study for his dominating role and the "creatively evil" tasks and games he invented for the prisoners. We met recently at a lecture I was giving, and he confided that, unlike Andy Warhol's fifteen minutes of fame, which everyone gets once in a lifetime, the Stanford Prison Experiment has pro vided him with "fifteen minutes of infamy, permanently." In response to my re quest that he think about whether his participation may have had any positive consequences on his life, he sent me this note: Decades of carrying the baggage of life have softened the arrogant and in sensitive teenager that I was in 1 9 7 1 . If someone had told me that my ac tions had harmed any of the prisoners, my likely response would have been "they're weaklings and sissies." But the memory of how I fell so deeply into my role that I was blind to the suffering of others serves today as a cautionary tale, and I think carefully about how I treat people. In fact, some might find me overly sensitive for my role as a business owner, as I sometimes hesitate to make decisions to, for example, fire non-performing employees for fear that it would be a hardship to them."13 Guard Vandy explained some of the personal insight he gained from his experience as the tough leader of his shift. During a follow-up evaluation a few months later, he told us, "My enjoyment in harassing and punishing prisoners was quite un natural because I do tend to think of myself as being sympathetic to the injured, especially animals. I think it was an outgrowth from my total freedom to rule the prisoners; I began to abuse my authority. In view of this I have tried to realize when I am being pushy or authoritarian and then correct it. I find it much easier to examine it and realize just when I am behaving that way. I feel that now be cause of my ability to better understand it, that I have become less demanding and bossy than I was before the experiment." Carlo Prescott, our prison consultant, was released from San Quentin State Prison only six months before his involvement in the SPE. He had been incarcerated in several California prisons as well as in a California Youth Authority facility for The SPE: Ethics and Extensions 241 more than seventeen years of his life. The changes in his professional status and the enhanced self-esteem that accompanied his teaching at Stanford with me on the subject of the psychology of imprisonment, and his contributions to the SPE, have had salutary consequences for him. He landed a good job as the radio talk- show host of Carlo's Corner on San Francisco's KGO station, where he provoked his listeners to social consciousness and offered penetrating insights into racist and fascist trends in the United States. He also taught other college courses, lec tured in the community, did community service, gave congressional testimony along with me, and has been a model citizen all these years. Craig Haney went on to graduate from Stanford University's Law School with J.D., as well as a Ph.D. from our Psychology Department. He is a professor on the fac ulty of the University of California. Santa Cruz, where he teaches popular courses in psychology and law and in the psychology of institutions. Craig has become one of the nation's leading consultants on prison conditions and one of only a handful of psychological experts working with attorneys who represent prisoner class action suits in the United States. He has written extensively and brilliantly about many different aspects of crime, punishment, execution, and correction. We have collaborated on a number of professional journal articles, books, and trade magazines.14 His statement of the impact that the SPE had on him clearly shows the worth of this experiment: For me. the Stanford Prison Experiment was a formative, career-altering experience. I had just finished my second year as a psychology graduate student at Stanford when Phil Zimbardo, Curtis Banks, and I began to plan this research. My interests in applying social psychology to questions of crime and punishment had just begun to crystallize, with Phil Zimbardo's blessing and support. . . . Not long after I finished my work on the SPE I began to study actual prisons and eventually focused also on the social histories that helped to shape the lives of the people who were confined in side them. But I never lost sight of the perspective on institutions that I gleaned from observing and evaluating the results of 6 short days inside our simulated prison.15 Christina Maslach,the heroine of the SPE, is now a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, vice provost of undergraduate education, dean of letters and sciences, and a Carnegie Foundation Distinguished Professor of the Year. Her brief but powerful experience in the SPE also had a positive impact on her career decisions, as she said in this retrospective account:1 6 For me, the important legacy of the prison experiment is what I learned from my personal experience and how that helped to shape my own subse quent professional contributions to psychology. What I learned about most directly was the psychology of dehumanization—how basically good people can come to perceive and treat others in such bad ways; how easy it is for people to treat others who rely on their help or good will as less than human, as animals, inferior, unworthy of respect or equality. That experience in the SPE led me to do the pioneering research on burnout— the psychological hazards of emotionally demanding human service work that can lead initially dedicated and caring individuals to dehumanize and mistreat the very people they are supposed to serve. My research has tried to elucidate the causes and consequences of burnout in a variety of oc cupational settings; it has also tried to apply these findings to practical solutions. I also encourage analysis and change of the situational determi nants of burnout rather than focusing on individual personalities of the human caregivers. So my own story in the Stanford Prison Experiment is not simply whatever role I played in ending the study earlier than planned, but my role in beginning a new research program that was inspired by my personal experience with that unique study.17 I might add that as the flip side to the deindividuation processes that were so potent in the SPE, Christina has also done pioneering research on its opposite,in dividuation,the ways in which people strive for uniqueness.18 Phil Zimbardo. And then there was me. (See notes for status of Curtis Banks and David Jaffee.19) The week in the SPE changed my life in many ways, both profes sionally and personally. The outcomes that can be traced to the unexpectedly positive consequences that this experience created for me were vast. My research was affected, as was my teaching and personal life, and I became a social change agent for improving prison conditions and highlighting other forms of institu tional abuses of power. My research focus for the following three decades has been stimulated by a variety of ideas I extracted from this prison simulation. They led me to study shy ness, time perspective, and madness. It also changed my approach to teaching. Please allow me, at this point, to amplify on these three intersecting lines of re search and the changes in my teaching style that were all stimulated by the SPE. Following that, I will reveal in a bit more detail how the experiment also helped to change my personal life. Shyness as Self-imposed Prison What other dungeon is so dark as one's own heart! What jailer so inexorable as one's self? —Nathaniel Hawthorne In our basement jail, prisoners surrendered their basic freedoms in response to the coercive control of the guards. Yet in real life beyond the laboratory, many people voluntarily give up their freedoms of speech, action, and association with out external guards forcing them to do so. They have internalized the demanding guard as part of their self-image; the guard who limits their options for spontane ity, liberty, and joy in life. Paradoxically, these same people have also internalized the image of the passive prisoner who reluctantly acquiesces to these self-imposed restrictions on all their actions. Any action that calls attention to one's person threatens her or him with potential humiliation, shame, and social rejection and thus must be avoided. In response to that inner guardian, the prisoner-self shrinks back from life, retreats into a shell, and chooses the safety of the silent prison of shyness. Elaborating that metaphor from the SPE led me to think about shyness as a social phobia that breaks the bonds of the human connection by making other people threatening rather than inviting. The year after our prison study ended, I started a major research initiative, the Stanford Shyness Project, to investigate the causes, correlates, and consequences of shyness in adults and adolescents. Ours was the first systematic study of adult shyness; once we knew enough, we went on to develop a program for treating shyness in a unique Shyness Clinic ( 1 9 7 7 ) . The clinic, which has been in continuous operation over all this time in the Palo Alto community, has been directed by Dr. Lynne Henderson and is now part of the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology. My primary goal in the treatment and pre vention of shyness has been to develop means to help shy people liberate them selves from their self-imposed, silent prisons. I have done so in part through writing popular books for the general public on how to deal with shyness in adults and children.20 These activities are a counterpoint to the imprisonment to which I had subjected the participants in the SPE. Time Perspective Biases People on the outside tend to live looking toward the future. The future for a convict is vague and sketchy. His past is gone; people stop writing after a while. The present becomes magnified. —Ken Whalen, ex-convict and playwright 2 1 In the SPE, time sense became distorted in many ways. For the prisoners, their sleep cycle was disrupted by forced awakening for the counts; they were always tired, and that exhaustion was amplified by the tedious exercises and menial work regimes assigned to them. Their sense of time was also affected by the absence of external signs of day and night and lack of clocks. (The absence of clocks is part of the design strategy of gambling casinos to embed gamblers in an expanded present by removing any references to time.) As noted in the last chapter, the pris oners magnified their focus on the awful present by talking about the immediate situation and rarely about their past or future lives. Interestingly, after each of the prisoners who was released early was gone, the remaining prisoners made virtually no references to them. They were gone and forgotten, pushed out of immediate memory focus. As for the staff, our time perspective also became distorted by the long shifts we had to endure, the short sleep episodes, and the many different logistical and tactical issues we had to deal with every day and night. I think that some of our misjudgments and indecisions can be traced in part to our distorted time sense. These experiences led to my need to understand how human behavior is influ enced by our sense of time perspective, the way we partition the flow of our expe riences into the temporal categories of past, present, and future. Using surveys, interviews, experiments, and cross-cultural studies, I learned many new things about time perspective that enabled me to develop a valid, reliable metric for as sessing individual differences in time perspective.22 The Zimbardo Time Perspec tive Inventory (ZTPI) is being used by researchers around the world to study a host of important phenomena, such as decision-making biases, health issues, stress, addiction, problem solving, environmental sustainability, and many more "time-tagged" phenomena. Most people's lives are controlled by their overuse of one time frame—past, present, or future—and underreliance on the other frames, which they should be using in a more flexible, balanced fashion depending on the demands of any given situation. When there is work to be done, the discipline associated with future orientation is needed. When we need to connect to family and friends, the rooted positive past should be called upon. When we want to enjoy life's sensual pleasures and seek new adventures, a present orientation best enables us to do so. Many factors contribute to biasing people toward being excessively present-oriented—either hedonistic or fatalistic—excessively future-oriented, or excessively past-oriented—in either positive or negative focus. Among those fac tors are cultural influences, education, religion, social class, family modeling, and personal experiences. The SPE made it obvious that time perspective was not merely a personal trait or an outcome measure but could be altered by experi ences in situations that expanded or contracted it. When studying institutions, it also becomes apparent that time perspective plays a powerful, hidden role in shaping the minds of the those who become "in stitutionalized," whether in prisons, homes for the aged, or chronic care hospi tals. Endless routines and undifferentiated daily activities create a seeming circularity of time—it just flows on, undivided into meaningful linear units but creeping onward as if it were an ant's journey on a Môbius strip of life. Among his insights into the meaning of imprisonment in Soledad Brother, George Jackson re flects on time and its distortion: The Time slips away from me There is no rest from it even at night The days, even the weeks lapse one into the other, endlessly into one an other. Each day that comes and goes is exactly like the one that went before.23 Madness in Normal People Do you know what you have done? [Sherlock Holmes asked Sigmund Freud] You have succeeded in taking my methods— observation and inference—and applying them to the inside of a subject's head. —Nicholas Meyer,The Seven Percent Solution One of the most dramatic outcomes of the SPE was the way in which many healthy, normal young men began to behave pathologically in a short time. Be cause our selection procedures ruled out preexistent, so-called premorbid, dis positions as causal factors, I wanted to understand the processes by which psychopathological symptoms first develop in ordinary people. Thus, in addition to stimulating me to study shyness and time perspective, my experiences in the SPE stimulated a new line of theorizing and experimental research on how nor mal people first begin to "go mad." Most of what is known about abnormal functioning comes from retrospective analyses that attempt to figure out what factors might have caused the current mental disturbance in a given person—much like Sherlock Holmes's strategies of inferential reasoning from effects back to causes. Instead, I tried to develop a model that focuses on the processes involved in the development of symptoms of mental disorders, such as phobia and paranoia. People are motivated to generate explanations when they perceive that some expectation about their functioning is violated. They try to make sense of what went wrong when they fail in academic, social, business, athletic, or sexual situations—depending on how important such a discrepancy is to their self-integrity. The rational search process for mean ing is distorted by cognitive biases that focus attention on classes of explanation that are not appropriate in the current analysis. Thus, overusing explanations that focus on "people" as the causes of one's reactions may bias the search for meaning toward developing symptoms characteristic of paranoid thinking. Similarly, explanations focused on "environments" as the causes of one's reac tions may bias that search toward the symptom development typical of phobic thinking. This new model of the cognitive and social bases of "madness" in normal, healthy people has been validated in our controlled laboratory experiments. We have found, for example, that pathological symptoms may develop in up to one third of normal participants in the rational process of their trying to make sense of unexplained sources of arousal.2 4 We also demonstrated that college students with normal hearing who were made to experience partial temporary deafness by means of hypnotic suggestion soon began to think and act in paranoid ways, be lieving that others were hostile to them. Thus, undetected hearing impairment in the elderly may be a contributor to their development of paranoid disorders—and thus can be prevented or treated with hearing aids rather than psychotherapy or institutionalization. Therefore, I have argued that the seeds of madness can be planted in any one's backyard and will grow in response to transient psychological perturba tions in the course of the lifetime of ordinary experience. Switching from a restrictive medical model of mental disturbances to a public health model encour ages the search for situational vectors at play in individual and societal distur bances rather than restricting the search to within the head of the distressed individual. We are in a better position to prevent, as well as to treat, madness and psychopathology when we bring fundamental knowledge of cognitive, social, and cultural processes to bear on a fuller appreciation of the mechanisms involved in transforming normal into dysfunctional behavior. Teaching by Powering Down My awareness of the ease with which I became a dominating power figure in the SPE led me to restructure my teaching methods to give students more power and limit the teacher's role to his command of expertise in his field rather than social control. I instituted "open-mike" periods at the start of class when students in large lectures could criticize anything about the course or make personal state ments about it. This evolved into online bulletin boards in which students were encouraged to speak openly about positive and negative aspects of the course every day throughout the term. I also reduced competition for top grades among students by not grading on a curve and instead developing absolute standards that derived from each student's mastery of material criteria, taking tests with a learning partner, and even eliminating grading altogether in some courses.2 5 The SPE's Personal Impact The year after the end of the SPE (August 10, 1 9 7 2 ) , I married Christina Maslach at the Stanford Memorial Church, where we also renewed our marital vows on our twenty-fifth anniversary in the presence of our children. That heroine pro foundly affects all that I do in the best ways imaginable. In this relationship, I was able to salvage one more bit of heaven from the hell of that prison experience. Another personal impact that this little weeklong study had on me was in be coming an advocate for social change based on research-based evidence, in pro moting prison reform, and in my dedicated efforts to maximize the reach of the SPE's significant messages. Let's review them in some detail. Maximizing the Gain: Spreading the Social Gospel While the SPE changed my life in many ways, one of the most abrupt changes oc curred as the result of my invited appearance before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives: suddenly, I was transformed from an academic re searcher to an advocate for social change. In its hearings on prison reform in October 1 9 7 1 , the subcommittee wanted not only analysis but also recommenda tions for reform. In my statement in the Congressional Record. I clearly advocated congressional intervention into the prison structure to bring about improve ments in the condition of inmates, as well as for correctional personnel.26 My advocacy has largely taken the form of consciousness raising about the necessity for ending the "social experiment" of prisons because, as demonstrated by the high rates of recidivism, the experiment has failed. We must find the reason for that through more thorough systems analyses and propose alternative solu tions to incarceration. We must also break down resistance to meaningful prison reform. My second testimony before a congressional subcommittee, which fo cused on juvenile detention (September 1 9 7 3 ) , moved me further toward becom ing a social advocate. I outlined nineteen separate recommendations for improved treatment of detained juveniles.27 I was pleased to learn that a new federal law was passed that was in part stimulated by my testimony. Senator Birch Bayh, who headed this investigation, helped to put into law the rule that, to prevent their being abused, juveniles in pretrial detention should not be housed with adults in federal prisons. The SPE was about abuse of juveniles in pretrial detention. (Of course, we confused matters by having parole hearings, which in real life would not occur until one had been convicted and sentenced.) One powerful legal impact of the SPE for me derived from my participation in the federal court trial of Spain et al. v. Procunier et al. (1973). The "San Quentin Six" prisoners had been isolated in solitary confinement for more than three years for their alleged involvement in the murder of guards and informer prisoners dur ing the escape attempt of George Jackson on August 2 1 , 1 9 7 1 . As an expert wit ness, I toured the facilities of San Quentin's maximum-adjustment center and interviewed each of the six prisoners a number of times. My prepared statement and two days of trial testimony concluded with the opinion that all of these prison conditions of involuntary, prolonged, indefinite confinement under dehumaniz ing conditions constituted "cruel and unusual punishment" and must therefore be changed. The court arrived at a similar conclusion. In addition, I served throughout the trial as a psychological consultant to the team of lawyers for the plaintiffs. These and other activities that I have engaged in following the SPE were un dertaken with the sense of an ethical mission. To balance the relative ethics equa tion, I felt it was necessary to compensate for the pain experienced by our SPE participants by maximizing the gain of this research to science and society. My early efforts are summarized in a book chapter written in 1983, "Transforming Experimental Research into Advocacy for Social Change."2 8 The Power of Media and Visual Images Because the SPE was such a visual experience, we used its images to spread the message of situational power. First, I created a slide show of eighty images that were synchronized to my audiotaped narration, with the help of Gregory White in 1 9 7 2 ; it was distributed mostly to college teachers as a lecture supplement. The advent of video enabled us to transfer these images and include in the presenta tion both archival footage from the study along with new footage, interviews, and my videotaped narration. This project was developed with a team of Stanford stu dents headed by Ken Musen, the director ofQuiet Rage: The Stanford Prison Experi ment (1985). Recently, it was upgraded to DVD format with the assistance of Scott Pious in 2 0 0 4 . This fifty-minute presentation ensures the best quality and world wide accessibility. Its many dramatic still and action images made it possible to further broaden the reach of the SPE by including a segment on it in Program 19 of the public television series that I helped to develop, Discovering Psychology, "The Power of the Situation." I was also able to feature images from the SPE in my introductory psychology textbooks, Psychology and Life and Psychology: Core Con cepts. Those images have also been incorporated into my lectures on the psy chology of evil before student, professional, and civic audiences. The first publication of the SPE was in an article in the mainstream media, "The Mind Is a Formidable Jailer; A Pirandellian Prison," in The New York Times Magazine (April 8, 1973). This presentation was designed to reach beyond the usual limited academic audience for such experimental research. In this publica tion, the power of the story was amplified by the inclusion of many illustrative im ages. A story inL ife magazine (October 1 5 , 1 9 7 1 ) , entitled "I Almost Considered the Prisoners as Cattle," attracted further media attention. The visual nature of the SPE made it ripe for television and other media cov erage. I mentioned earlier that it was featured only a few months after its comple tion on NBC-TV'sC hronolog series.29 The illustrated story of the SPE was also aired on 60 Minutes and the National GeographicTV series.30 Most recently, it was featured in a well-made television program, "The Human Behavior Experiments."3 1 Other ways in which I have actively tried to extend the impact of our study include the following: • Presenting the study to civic, judicial, military, law enforcement, and psy chology groups to enlighten them and to arouse concern about prison life. • Organizing conferences on corrections in the U.S. military (1972, 1 9 7 3 , and 1974) that examined the relationship of research programs to policy decisions and measured their impact on military correctional systems. One focus was on systemic problems, such as racial discrimination and the frustrations of ambition that are fostered by recruiters.32 • Helping a local community test out its new jail and its newly hired staff by creating a mock prison in which 1 3 2 citizens volunteered to role-play pris oners for three days: The power of role-playing we witnessed in the SPE was even more dramatic in this real jail setting—given that these guards realized that they were under public scrutiny, they behaved rather kindly. A reporter noted some of the extreme reactions: "A housewife exhibited the symptoms of a nervous breakdown and had to be released." "A woman inmate took another hostage, held a knife to her throat, pierced the skin and refused to end the role she was supposed to be playing. Guards had to overpower her." "Many would later remark that within a day their minds grew foggy and they couldn't concentrate. They became irritated by the lack of privacy, especially the open toilets. Some felt abandoned and dehu manized. Others said they began to withdraw or wanted to rebel. Some lost track of time." This demonstration alerted the staff to several technical and operational problems that they fixed before opening the jail for local felons. One of the mock prisoners was an attorney who concluded that de spite the good appearance of the jail and the courteous staff, prison "really is a miserable place to be."3 3 As a result of this mock prison trial, the offi cials put into place remedial practices designed to counter such extreme reactions from future inmates. • Exchanging letters (allhandwritten, in those precomputer days!) with more than two hundred prisoners, a dozen of whom became regular cor respondents. Even today. I answer many e-mail queries every day from stu dents, notably British high school students, for whom the SPE is required learning in the social and cognitive psychology portion of their A Level courses (seew w w . r e v i s i o n - n o t e s . c o . u k). Two of the most powerful letters that were stimulated by the SPE came from a psychologist colleague recently and from a prisoner right after the study. I'd like to share them before we move on to examine further extensions of our experi ment in different realms. The psychologist described the parallels between the SPE and the military indoctrination he had experienced: My interest in social psychology began when I was a cadet at the USAF Academy and read about (or saw the video of) the SPE study in my intro psych class. It spoke to what I saw going on all around me in the indoctri nation of promising young minds into killing, dehumanizing, abuse ma chines. Your analysis is dead on: It is not a question of getting more moral soldiers. Instead it is a question of recognizing how the situation of war (and the cultural institutions/practices of the military that we have de signed to "prepare" people for that situation) creates monsters out of us all. 3 4 A prisoner in an Ohio state prison described the abuses he experienced and the rage they instilled in him: I was recently released from "solitary confinement" after being held therein for 37 months [months!]. A silent system was imposed upon me and to even "whisper" to the man in the next cell resulted in being beaten by guards, sprayed with chemical mace, black-jacked, stomped, and thrown into a "strip-cell" naked to sleep on a concrete floor without bedding, covering, wash basin, or even a toilet. The floor served as toilet and bed, and even there the "silent system" was enforced. To let a "moan" escape your lips because of the pain and discomfort resulted in another beating. I spent not days, but months there during my 37 months in solitary. I have filed every writ possible against the administrative acts of brutality. The State Courts have all denied the petitions. Because of my refusal to let the "things die down" and "forget" all that happened during my 37 months in solitary, I am the most hated prisoner in this Ohio Peni tentiary and called a "hard-core incorrigible." Professor Zimbardo, maybe I am an incorrigible, but if true, it's be cause I would rather die than to accept being treated as less than a human being. I have never complained of my prison sentence as being unjustified except through legal means of appeals. I have never put a knife on a guard's throat and demanded my release. I know that thieves must be punished and I don't justify stealing, even though I am a thief myself. But now I don't think I will be a thief when I am released. No, I'm not rehabilitated. It's just that I no longer think of becoming wealthy by stealing. I now only think of "killing." Killing those who have beaten me and treated me as if I were a dog. I hope and pray for the sake of my own soul and future life of freedom, that I am able to overcome the bit terness and hatred which eats daily at my soul, but I know to overcome it will not be easy. REPLICATIONS AND EXTENSIONS We bring to an end our investigation into the Stanford Prison Experiment as a so cial phenomenon with a brief overview of the ways in which its results have been replicated or reproduced and have been extended in various domains. Beyond its utility within social science, the SPE has migrated far out into other realms, into the public arena of television shows, commercial film, and even artistic produc tions. Its basic findings about the ease with which good people can be transformed into perpetrators of evil if their institutional power is not restrained has led to some social and military applications designed to prevent such outcomes. Because it is important for us to move on to consider the full range of psycho logical research that validates and broadens the conclusions of the SPE, at this point it is sufficient simply to outline these replications and extensions. A fuller presentation of this material, with detailed commentary and references, is avail able atw w w . l u c i f e r e f f e c t . c o m. A Solid Replication in Another Culture A team of researchers at the University of New South Wales, Australia, extended the SPE by having one condition similar to ours and several other experimental variants to explore how social organizations influence the relationship between prisoners and guards.35 Their "Standard Custodial" regime was modeled on medium-security prisons in Australia and was closest in its procedure to the SPE. The researchers' central conclusion of their rigorous experimental protocol notes: "Our results thus support the major conclusion of Zimbardo et al that hos tile, confrontive relations in prisons result primarily from the nature of the prison regime, rather than the personal characteristics of inmates and officers" (p. 2 8 3 ) . These results, within this research design, also help offset skepticism about the validity of such simulation experiments by providing baselines to assess behav ioral changes from objectively defined structural characteristics of real-life prisons.36 The Mock Psychiatric Ward Experience For three days, twenty-nine staff members at Elgin State Hospital in Illinois were confined to a ward of their own, a mental ward in which they performed the role of "patient." Twenty-two regular staff played their usual roles while trained ob servers and video cameras recorded what transpired. "It was really fantastic the things that happened in there," reported research director Norma Jean Orlando. In a short time the mock patients began acting in ways that were indistinguish able from those of real patients: six tried to escape, two withdrew into themselves, two wept uncontrollably, one came close to having a nervous breakdown. Most experienced a general increase in tension, anxiety, frustration, and despair. The vast majority of staff-patients (more than 75 percent) reported feeling each of the following: "incarcerated," without an identity, as if their feelings were not impor tant, as if nobody were listening to them, not being treated as a person, nobody caring about them, forgetting it was an experiment, and really feeling like a pa tient. One staff-member-turned-patient who suffered during his weekend ordeal gained enough insight to declare: "I used to look at the patients as if they were a bunch of animals: I never knew what they were going through before."37 The positive outcome of this study, which was conceived as a follow-up to the Stanford Prison Experiment, was the formation of an organization of staff mem bers who worked cooperatively with current and former patients. They became dedicated to raising the consciousness of the hospital personnel about the way patients were being mistreated, as well as working at personally improving their own relationship to patients and of patients' relationship with staff. They came to realize the power of their "total situation" to transform the behavior of patients and staff in unwelcome ways, and then in more constructive ways. A Seeming Replication Failure in a TV Pseudoexperiment An experiment was conducted for a BBC-TV show based on the SPE model. Its re sults challenged those of the SPE because the guards showed little violence or cru elty. Let's fast-forward to the end of the study and its remarkable conclusion: the prisoners dominated the guards! Theguards became "increasingly paranoid, de pressed and stressed and complained most of being bullied."38 Repeat, not the prisoners but the guards were distressed by their experiences in this reality TV show. Several of the guards couldn't take it anymore and quit; none of the prison ers did so. The prisoners soon established the upper hand, working as a team to undermine the guards; then everyone got together and decided to form a peaceful "commune"—with the help of a labor union organizer! Our Lucifer Effect website contains a critical analysis of this pseudoexperiment. The SPE as a Warning Against Abuse of Power Two of the unexpected uses of our research have been in women's shelters and in the Navy's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) program. Directors of a number of shelters for abused women have informed me that they use our Quiet Rage video to illustrate the ease with which masculine power can become abusive and destructive. Seeing the film and discussing its implications helps abused women not to blame themselves for their abuse but to better understand the situational factors that transformed their once loving mates into such abus ing criminals. The experiment has also become absorbed into some versions of feminist theory of gender relations based on power. Every branch of the military has a version of the SERE program. It was devel oped after the Korean War to teach those captured by the enemy how to with stand and resist extreme forms of coercive interrogation and abuse. Central to the training is the psychological and physical hardship trainees experience for days within a mock prisoner-of-war camp. This intense, grueling simulation prepares them to better cope with the terrors they might face if they are captured and tortured. I have been informed by several sources in the Navy that the SPE's message of the ease with which command power can become excessive has been made ex plicit in its training through using both our video and our website. This serves to warn the SERE trainer-captors against the impulse to "go over the top" in abusing their "captives." So one use of the SPE is to guide training in "guard" restraint in a setting that gives permission for guards to abuse others "for their own eventual good." On the other hand, the SERE program, as practiced by the Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, has been indicted by a number of critics as now being mis used by the Pentagon. They argue that top officials have "flipped the switch" from focusing on ways to increase resistance by captured American soldiers to developing effective interrogation techniques to use against captured "enemy combat ants" and other assumed enemies of America. According to several accounts, these techniques have migrated from the military SERE programs to Guantâ- namo Bay Prison, known as "Gitmo." An American law professor, M. Gregg Bloche, and Jonathan H. Marks, a British barrister and bioethics fellow, have condemned the use of these interroga tion procedures, which have been developed in part by behavioral scientists and physicians. They argue that "by bringing SERE tactics and the Guantanamo model onto the battlefield, the Pentagon opened a Pandora's box of potential abuse . . . the SERE model's embrace by the Pentagon's civilian leaders is further evidence that abuse tantamount to torture was national policy, not merely the product of rogue freelancers."39 The investigative reporter Jane Mayer in aN ew Yorker essay, "The Experiment," has expressed similar concerns.4 0 I will visit the issue of the misuse of the SPE by the Pentagon in chapter 15. The tactics developed by SERE programs were part of the protocol for defen sive training of military personnel in case of enemy capture; however, after the terrorist attacks of September 1 1 , 2 0 0 1 , they were retrofit to be part of the arse nal of offensive tactics to elicit information from military personnel or civilians considered as enemies. Their objective was to make those being interrogated feel vulnerable, be pliable, and become cooperative in revealing desired information. Their techniques were developed with the help of behavioral scientist consultants and refined based on trial-and-error field practice in SERE drills at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and other military training installations. In general, these tactics minimized the use of physical torture, substituting mental, "soft torture" instead. Five of the main tactics in the SERE program to render detainees or others being interrogated as amenable to yielding information and confessions are: • Sexual humiliation and degradation • Humiliation based on religious and cultural practices • Sleep deprivation • Sensory deprivation and sensory overload • Physical torment to achieve the psychological advantages of fear and anxiety, such as "water-boarding," or hypothermia (exposure to freezing temperatures) We see these tactics specifically proposed in memos of both Secretary Rums feld for use at Guantanamo and of General Sanchez at Abu Ghraib, and put into operation at those prisons and elsewhere. There is also documented evidence that a team of interrogators and other military personnel from Guantanamo visited the SERE training program at Fort Bragg in August 2 0 0 2 . Given the classified na ture of this information, these statements are of course only reasonable infer ences based on reports from various knowledgeable sources. Is it possible that the SPE's main message of situational power was co-opted by the Pentagon and utilized in its torture training programs? I would not like to believe that; however, one recent critique makes that claim rather powerfully. "This appears to be the experiment that informs torture in Iraq . . . A situa tion is created—made worse by understaffing, danger, and no outside indepen dent controls—and with a little encouragement (never specific instructions to torture) guards do torture. This situation and this torture are now widely recog nized in U.S. prisons in I r a q.... The U.S. administration's advantage in the Stan ford experiment 'situation' is that it provides deniability—there are no orders to torture, but the situation can be predicted to cause it."4 1 The authors of this opinion go on to specify that this is more than mere specu lation because the Stanford Prison Experiment is singled out in the Schlesinger Committee Report investigating the Abu Ghraib abuses. They argue that "[t]he publication of information about this experiment in an official document, linking it to conditions in U.S. military prisons, further reveals chain of command respon sibility for policy." The key link to the SPE in the Schlesinger Report is how it high lighted the power of the pathological situation created in our experimental prison. "The negative, anti-social reactions observed were not the product of an en vironment created by combining a collection of deviant personalities, but rather, the result of an intrinsically pathological situation which could distort and rechannel the behavior of essentially normal individuals. The abnormality here resided in the psychological nature of the situation and not in those who passed through it."4 2 Crossovers into Popular Culture Three examples of how our experiment has crossed the boundary from the ivory tower into the realms of music, theater, and art come from a rock group, a Ger man movie, and the art of a Polish artist whose "art form" was exhibited at the 2 0 0 5 Venice Biennale. "Stanford Prison Experiment" (minus the "The") is the name of a rock band from Los Angeles whose intense music is "a fusion of punk and noise," according to its leader, who learned about the SPE as a student at UCLA.43 Das Experiment is a German film based on the SPE that has been widely shown around the world. This attribution of Das Experiment, as inspired by the SPE, gives legitimacy and a real-world quality to this "fantasy," as the scriptwriter called it. It purposely confuses viewers about what did happen in our study with the liberties that were taken for the sake of sensationalism. It ends up being a vulgar display of sexism and gratuitous sexuality and violence with no redeeming value. Although some viewers found the film exciting, the movie was panned in critical reviews, such as these by two well-known British film critics. The Observer's reviewer concluded, " 'The Experiment' is an improbable thriller of no great originality that offers itself as a fable of national (possibly universal) inclination toward authoritarian fascism."44 Harsher was the reviewer of The Guardian: "Any episode of Big Brother would have had more insight than this silly and obtuse nonsense."45 An American film critic, Roger Ebert, extracted one valuable lesson from the movie, which applies to the SPE as well: "Perhaps uni forms turn us into packs, led by the top dog. There are few strays."46 A Polish artist, Artur Zmijewski, has made a forty-six-minute film,Repetition, that highlights the seven days paid volunteers spent in his mock prison. The film was screened every hour on the hour to large audiences in the Polish Pavilion at the June 2 0 0 5 Venice Biennale, the world's oldest celebration of contemporary art, and also shown in Warsaw and San Francisco art venues. According to one reviewer, this film "suggests that Zimbardo's experiment, which has as much intuition as strictly scientific method in its design, may have had the makings of a work of art. ... In the simulated prison, however, artistic decorum soon gets left behind. The 'game' achieves a momentum of its own, so completely wrapping up its players in its dynamic that it starts to touch them at the core. Guards get more brutal and controlling. The disobedient are put in soli tary: all heads are shaved. At this point a few prisoners, rather than simply seeing all this as annoying play that they can bear with for as long as it takes (at $ 4 0 a day), see it as a genuinely evil situation and quit the 'experiment' for good."47 THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT WEBSITE: INTERNET POWER Using archival footage and a forty-two-page slide show,w w w . p r i s o n e x p . o r g tells the story of what happened during our experiment's six fateful days: it includes background documents, discussion questions, articles, interviews, and a wealth of other material for teachers, students, and anyone else interested in learning more about the experiment and corrections, in five languages. It was launched in December 1 9 9 9 , with the expert assistance of Scott Pious and Mike Lestik. If you visitG o o g l e . c o m and do a keyword search for "Experiment." what you are likely to discover is that the SPE is the top-ranked website worldwide, out of 2 9 1 million results, as of August 2 0 0 6 . Similarly, an August 2 0 0 6 Google key word search for "Prison" places the Stanford Prison Experiment website second only to the Federal Bureau of Prisons of the United States, out of more than 1 9 2 million results. On a typical day,w w w . p r i s o n e x p . o r g ' s pages are viewed more than 2 5 , 0 0 0 times, more than 38 million times since the site was launched. At the height of news coverage on the Abu Ghraib Prison abuses in May and June 2 0 0 4 , Web traf fic to the Stanford Prison Experiment website (and its parent site,w w w . s o c i a l exceeded 2 5 0 , 0 0 0 page views per day. This level of traffic attests not only to public interest in psychological research but to the need many people feel to understand the dynamics of imprisonment or, more generally, the dynam ics of power and oppression. The data may also reflect the now-legendary status that this experiment has attained in many countries of the world. One vivid, very personal consequence of visiting the SPE website can be seen in the following letter to me from a nineteen-year-old psychology student who de scribes the personal value he got from his exposure to it. It enabled him to better understand a terrible experience he had had during military boot camp: Not too far into it [watching the Stanford Prison Experiment], I was almost in tears. November 2 0 0 1 , 1 joined the United States Marine Corps, pursu ing a childhood dream. To make a long story short, I had become the vic tim of repeated illegal physical and mental abuse. An investigation showed I suffered more than 40 unprovoked beatings. Eventually, as much as I fought it, I became suicidal, thus received a discharge from U.S.M.C. boot camp. I was in this base for just about 3 months. The point I am trying to make is that the manner in which your guards carried about their duties and the way that Military Drill Instruc tors do is unbelievable. I was amazed at all the parallels of your guards and one particular D.I. that comes to mind. I was treated much the same way and even worse in some cases. One incident that stands out was an effort to break platoon solidarity. I was forced to sit in the middle of my squad bay [living quarters] and shout to the other recruits "if you guys would have moved faster, we wouldn't be doing this for hours" referencing every single other recruit holding over their heads very heavy foot lockers. The event was very simi lar to the prisoners saying, " # 8 1 9 was a bad prisoner." After my incident and after I was home safe some months later, all I could think about was how much I wanted to go back to show the other recruits that as much as the D.I.'s told the platoon that I was a bad recruit, I wasn't. [Just as our prisoner Stew-819 wanted to do.] Other behaviors come to mind like the push-ups for punishment, shaved heads, not having any identity other than being addressed as and referring to other people as "Recruit So-and- so" which replicates your study. The point of it all is even though your experiment was conducted 31 yrs. ago, my reading the study has helped me gain an understanding I was previously unable to gain before, even after therapy and counseling. What you have demonstrated really gave me insight into something I've been dealing with for almost a year now. Although, it is certainly not an excuse for their behavior, I now can understand the rationale behind the D.I.'s ac tions as far as being sadistic and power hungry. In short, Dr. Zimbardo, thank you. A full, graphic depiction of the making of a Marine can be found in William Mares,The Marine Machine. 48 It is reasonable to conclude that there is something about this little experi ment that has enduring value not only among social scientists but also even more strongly among the general public. I now believe that special something is the dramatic transformation of human nature, not by Dr. Jekyll's mysterious chemi cals, which turned him into the evil Mr. Hyde, but rather by the power of social situations and the Systems that create and sustain them. My colleagues and I are pleased that we have been able "to give psychology a way into the public con sciousness" in an informative, interesting, and entertaining way that enables all of us to understand something so basic and disturbing about human nature. Now it is time to broaden our empirical foundation beyond this one experi ment as we turn in the next several chapters to review a variety of research from many sources that more fully informs us about how much situations can matter in turning good people into evildoers.