The Stanford Prison Experiment

Friday, May 15, 2009
Posted by: Ms. Shea in In Class


Read about the animal experiment below. Then explain whether or not you believe this experiment is ethical. Use specific examples from the notes to justify your response 

From around 1960 onwards, Harry Harlow and his students began publishing their observations on the effects of partial and total social isolation on monkeys. Partial isolation involved raising monkeys in bare wire cages that allowed them to see, smell, and hear other monkeys, but provided no opportunity for physical contact. Total social isolation involved raising monkeys in isolation chambers that precluded any and all contact with other monkeys.

Harlow reported that partial isolation resulted in various abnormalities such as blank staring, stereotyped repetitive circling in their cages, and self-mutilation. These monkeys were then observed in various settings. Some of the monkeys remained in solitary confinement for 15 years.

In the total isolation experiments baby monkeys would be left alone for three, six, 12, or 24 months of “total social deprivation.” The experiments produced monkeys that were severely psychologically disturbed. Harlow wrote:

No monkey has died during isolation. When initially removed from total social isolation, however, they usually go into a state of emotional shock, characterized by … autistic self-clutching and rocking. One of six monkeys isolated for 3 months refused to eat after release and died 5 days later. The autopsy report attributed death to emotional anorexia. … The effects of 6 months of total social isolation were so devastating and debilitating that we had assumed initially that 12 months of isolation would not produce any additional decrement. This assumption proved to be false; 12 months of isolation almost obliterated the animals socially …

Harlow tried to reintegrate the monkeys who had been isolated for six months by placing them with monkeys who had been reared normally. The rehabilitation attempts met with limited success. Harlow wrote that total social isolation for the first six months of life produced “severe deficits in virtually every aspect of social behavior.” Isolates exposed to monkeys the same age who were raised normally “achieved only limited recovery of simple social responses.” Some monkey mothers reared in isolation exhibited “acceptable maternal behavior when forced to accept infant contact over a period of months, but showed no further recovery.” Isolates given to surrogate mothers developed “crude interactive patterns among themselves.” Opposed to this, when six-month isolates were exposed to younger, three-month-old monkeys, they achieved “essentially complete social recovery for all situations tested.” The findings were confirmed by other researchers, who found no difference between peer-therapy recipients and mother-reared infants, but found that artificial surrogates had very little effect.

Harry Harlow’s pit of despair

Harlow was well known for refusing to use conventional terminology, and instead chose deliberately outrageous terms for the experimental apparatus he devised. The tendency arose from an early conflict with the conventional psychological establishment in which Harlow used the term “love” in place of the popular and archaically correct term, “attachment.” Such terms and respective devices included a forced-mating device he called the “rape rack,” tormenting surrogate mother devices he called “Iron maidens,” and an isolation chamber he called the “pit of despair” developed by him and a graduate student,Stephen Suomi.

In the pit of despair,” baby monkeys were left alone in darkness for up to one year from birth, or repetitively separated from their peers and isolated in the chamber. These procedures quickly produced monkeys that were severely psychologically disturbed and declared to be valuable models of human depression.

Harlow tried to rehabilitate monkeys that had been subjected to varying degrees of isolation using various forms of therapy. “In our study of psychopathology, we began as sadists trying to produce abnormality. Today we are psychiatrists trying to achieve normality and equanimity.”

The Standford Prison Experiment 

1. How did the researchers find participants?

2. Who were the participants?

3. What was the purpose of the study?


4. How was the prison constructed?

5. How were the prisoners humiliated upon entering prison?

6. What was the purpose of the foot chain and the dress smock if they are not really used in most prisons?


7. What did prisoners consent to in the agreement they signed at the beginning?

8. How did the guards punish some of the prisoners?

9. How did the guards react to the prisoner rebellion?


10. How did the other prisoners react to #8612 telling them they couldn’t leave?

11. How did the parents of the prisoners react during visiting hours?

12. How did the psychological mindset of the researchers change as the experiment progressed?


13. What role did the priest play in the experiment

14. How did prisoner #819 react to taunts?

15. How did the researchers define the three different types of guards?

16. How did the prisoners react to prisoner #416s hunger strike?


17. Why did the researchers end the experiment?

18. Do you believe this experiment was ethical? Explain. 

Experimenting in Psychology

Thursday, May 14, 2009
Posted by: Ms. Shea in In Class


A little exercise can help older people sleep better, according to a pair of studies. 

One study, led by researchers at Stanford University, involved 43 sedentary healthy adults age 50-76 years old with mild sleep problems, such as taking longer than 25 minutes on average to fall asleep and sleeping an average of only 6 hours a night. 

Half of the participants underwent 16 weeks of aerobics, each week consisting of 2 hour-long low impact classes at the YMCA and 2 forty-minute session of brisk walking or stationary cycling at home. The other half did nothing. 

At the end of the study, the subjects who exercised reported that they fell asleep about 15 minutes faster and slept about 45 minutes longer than before. Those who did not exercise showed little or no improvement. 

  1. What do the researchers expect to prove? (HYPOTHESIS)
  2. In this experiment, which group gets to exercise (EXPERIMENTAL GROUP)
  3. What did the other group involved in the study do? (CONTROL GROUP)
  4. What was the difference between the two groups? (INDEPENDENT VARIABLE)
  5. As a result of exercise, what did the researchers hope would happen? (DEPENDENT VARIABLE)
  6. What did the researchers find out? (CONCLUSION)

Quiz Review

Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Posted by: Ms. Shea in In Class

Be prepared discuss the important characteristics of each of the following species in our family tree. Also be familiar with the approximate timeline in which these species appeared. Study your lecture notes, the video packet, and reading packet.

• Australopithecus
• Homo Habilis
• Boisei
• Homo Ergaster
• Homo Erectus
• Neanderthals
• Homo Sapiens

Be prepared to define the following terms
• Sexual Dimorphism
• Pro-longed post-natal development
• Savanna Model
• Neolithic Revolution

Be prepared to discuss the following
• What is the purpose of primatology?
• What is the significance of termite fishing?
• What was the significance of Australopithecus being bipedal?
• Homo Habilis V. Paranthropus Boisei
• Theories about cave art

Hominid Timeline

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Posted by: Ms. Shea in In Class


  1. Cut out the map of Eurasia. Glue it to your big poster sheet of paper
  2. Create a key for your map. The key should represent each of the following hominids: Australopithecus Afarensis, Paranthropus Boisei, Homo Habilis, Homo Ergaster, Homo Erectus, Neanderthals, Homo Sapien
  3. Locate the regions where each hominid is found on the class map
  4. Color the map on your paper according to your key and label the location

PART II: Timeline

  1. Create a timeline on your big sheet of paper. Label the timeline for the period each of the following hominids existed. Be sure to include approximate dates on your timeline: Australopithecus, Paranthropus Boisei, Homo Habilis, Homo Ergaster, Homo Erectus, Neanderthals, Homo Sapien 
  2. You must now illustrate your timeline. For each of the following hominids, you must draw and label at least one characteristic that made the species unique in evolutionary history.

Your poster sheet will be graded based on whether or not your correctly include all of the above information. You will also be graded based on how neat your poster is and how much effort is displayed. All pictures should be colored. 

How Humans Made Art Video

Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Posted by: Ms. Kleidorfer in In Class

Today in class we watched How Humans Made Art and How Art Made Us Human.