Stanford Students Behind Bars

Ariane Bicho

Well, not really. In 1971, Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo transformed the basement of the university’s psychology building into a mock prison. (See it in the documentary
Quiet Rage
.) Zimbardo later served as an expert witness in the trial of Ivan Frederick, who was convicted of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. What did the guards at Abu Ghraib have in common with the college students who volunteered for the Stanford experiment? The Stanford Prison Experiment website offers extensive background on Zimbardo’s research and suggests how it might inform debates about torture.

Related Programs: Fernando Botero: The Abu Ghraib Series,
Watching the Unwatchable: Films Confront Torture

Pictured above: Standard Operating Procedure.