Ethics in Research
The Stanford Prison Experiment
(2) If I had been randomly selected to act as a guard, I would have been what they termed as one of the “good guys”. I cannot tolerate mistreatment, physical or emotional, of others, no matter what. If there is to be punishment meted out, it should be appropriate and swift, anything else would be torture, which I believe to be unforgivable and I am unable to understand the motivation.
I am very certain of how I would have been. I would have initially been concerned with my new role as I am not an authoritarian, then I would have felt guilty for being chosen for the more preferred role, even though it was random chance. I also know myself and I cannot stand idly by and watch or even hear of someone being made to feel bad, there are many things I will tolerate myself that I will not tolerate being done to others, it may not be logical, but it is who I am and at my age of 47, there is a good chance this is it. I am also quite certain that I would have tried to recruit others be more compassionate and to make the other two types of guards feel guilty for their actions or inactions. I would not have left the experiment since you can’t save anyone if you are not there.
(3) There was no evidence that I noted that declared that the good guards could not object to the treatment of the prisoners. Perhaps they had fallen into the prison mentality far enough to feel they had no recourse. As to the good guards countermanding the orders from others, I am seeing that in a sense they did, just passively, by doing favors for the prisoners, not giving punishment and most likely, treating the prisoners with compassion.
The only reason I can think of for the good guards keeping quiet is that they feared they would lose their jobs and then the prisoners would be without them. There is never an excuse for anyone to stand by and allow something illegal or immoral to transpire without ensuring their voice is heard....