SCREENING: The Stanford Prison Experiment
Join us for a screening of The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015), followed by a discussion with Alex Haslam, Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology and an Australian Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland.
The Stanford Prison Experiment is a feature film that revisits the psychology of power and abuse. In 1971, twenty-four male students at Stanford University were divided into guards and prisoners in a mock jail, and quickly spiralled into sadism and subordination. Adapting it for the screen, director Kyle Patrick Alvarez cranks up the claustrophobia to nightmarish levels.
It is true that prisons are damaging places for both prisoners and prison workers. But it is dangerous to derive general implications about human behaviour from flawed evidence; the Stanford Prison Experiment has been used to banalize evil by arguing that any ‘‘ordinary’’ individual can be made to engage in extraordinarily malicious acts, and this is simply not the case. As Professor Alex Haslam will argue, the social psychology textbooks will need to be re-written.
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