Intro to psychology textbooks gloss over criticisms of Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment




Eric W. Dolan


September 7, 2014



Most introductory psychology textbooks discuss Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment, but many do not mention criticisms of the famous experiment and those that do provide only minimal critical discussions, according to a new study.

“Introductory textbooks cover hundreds of topics and cite thousands of references so their authors may not be conversant with all relevant studies on the hundreds of topics, especially given that introductory psychology texts are revised on a short cycle, typically 3 years. If this is the case and introductory text authors are not aware of the entirety of the criticism of the SPE, then this article should help to rectify that situation,” Richard A. Griggs wrote in his study, which was published in the journal Teaching of Psychology.

In 1971, Zimbardo and his students attempted to examine the psychological effects of prison life by creating their own mock prison in the basement of Jordan Hall, with 24 college students acting as the guards and prisoners.



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