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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Reicher’

The Prison Studies

Relaunched: 27 October 2020 Philip Zimbardo’s ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’ (Craig Haney, Curtis Banks & Philip Zimbardo, 1973), is one of the most important, controversial and ethically dubious psychological studies ever undertaken – something of a classic bête noire on a par with some of Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments. It raises issues around key psychological concepts such as the identification process in conformity and deindividuation – along with a plethora of ethical issues. Thus, it is a critically-important study for a number of reasons – not least because, according to Zimbardo, it tells us how people will conform to a group norm. Sometimes with very disturbing results. Some 30 years later Steve Reicher & Alex Haslam (2006) carried out a partial replication of Stanford – their study is often referred to as the ‘BBC Prison Study’ because the BBC funded the study and edited it into a series which was broadcast in 2006. The outcome of their study was quite different to that of Zimbardo. However,  these different outcomes can be explained via complementary psychological theories. The Stanford Prison Experiment Zimbardo was interested in testing the dispositional hypothesis that widespread problems in American prisons were due to the intrinsic nature of the prison guards and… Read More

The Prison Studies #3

PART 3 Rejecting Inequality (Days 1 to 6) (cont) Days 3-4 On Day 3 the guards decided which prisoner should be promoted – the selection of the individual being made by the guards on the basis of a procedure suggested by the researchers. After this promotion, the possibility of movement was removed by announcing that there would be no further promotions (or demotions) – thus, stating that the situation was now impermeable.. With permeability shut down, the prisoners now took on the guards as a group. Almost instantly they began to act together and started to agree norms of behaviour. They started teasing the guards, humiliating them and challenging their authority. On Day 4 3 of the prisoners defied 3 guards, demanding better food. The guards could not agree how to respond, so came off worse in the confrontation. Low group identity amongst the guards led to ineffective leadership. The daily psychometric for social identification – see left – shows it to be much weaker amongst the guards than the prisoners from Day 3. Day 5 With the prison in disorder the researchers made their second planned intervention on the morning of Day 5. An experienced trade union negotiator (prisoner 10) was introduced as a… Read More

The Prison Studies #2

PART 2 Evaluation of the Stanford Prison Experiment Most criticisms of Zimbardo’s study are on ethical issues:- Zimbardo deceived the ‘prisoner’ participants, with their arrest at the beginning of the experiment. They were not told partly because final approval from the police wasn’t given until minutes before the arrests were due to begin and partly because the researchers wanted the arrests to come as a surprise. However this was a breach of the ethics of Zimbardo’s own contract that all of the participants had signed It was not ethically acceptable to expose people to such degradation and hostility even with their fully-informed consent Zimbardo being both ‘superintendent’ and chief researcher produced a conflict of roles whereby he lost sight of the harm being done to the participants – in effect he undermined his own competence to conduct the study,  competence of the researcher being somewhat  belatedly recognised as a key ethical issue by the British Psychological Society in 2006 Those who had been guards had to face up to the disconcerting fact that they had been willing to mistreat their prisoners. Guard ‘A’ said in debrief: “I was surprised at myself – I made them call each other names and clean the toilets out with… Read More

Influences, Acknowledgements & Gratitude

Update: 25 October 2019 Along the way, certain people have been particularly influential in terms of career progression and/or personal development; so it’s appropriate to acknowledge as many as I can remember. So here goes… Close friends and relatives My parents Ted & Betty Rice, of course. My uncle George Chandler who, playing guitar in a nightclub jazz trio and building a yacht to sail around the world, epitomised ‘cool’ to an impressionable 10-year-old. Rita Smith, always the aunty I was closest to and her daughters Norma (now Norma Klunder) and Maureen (now Maureen Williams) who embodied the mysteries of ‘teenage girl’ to their younger, only child male cousin. Ex-wives Linda Rice and Jane Rice inevitably have left their marks on me – as have ex-fiancees Jennie Beasty and Val Horsfall. Liz Olson was an American and a fellow Jefferson Starship fan who flew across the Atlantic to challenge some of my precepts! My 2 oldest friends, Chris Scurrah and David Burnby have been hugely influential in very different ways – Chris for inspiring me and supporting me to become a musician and Dave for supporting me in applying the Gravesian approach to real life. My stepdaughter Viki Harris has sometimes forced me to think about things differently… Read More

Milgram’s Obedience Experiments #2

PART 2 Criticisms of the classic study Martin Orne & Charles Holland (1968) claimed that the research lacked experimental realism, meaning that the experimental set-up was simply not believable. They thought the participants realised that the electric shocks were not real because powerful electric shocks were not a believable punishment for making a mistake on a word-pair test. Thus, the research lacked internal validity, as the obedience was not a genuine effect. Orne & Holland claimed the participants were just playing along to please the experimenter – demand characteristics. They based this on Holland’s (1967) replication of Milgram’s experiment, in which he found afterwards that 75% of the participants did not believe the deception. However, Milgram argued the participants’ stress reactions contradict this, indicating they were so caught up in the situation it seemed real to them, meaning the study did have experimental realism. Additionally, in the post-experimental interview the participants were asked to rate how painful they thought the last few shocks they administered were to the learner on a scale of 1 (‘not at all painful’) to 14 (‘extremely painful’). The mode of the results was 14, with a mean of 13.42. Assuming the participants were answering honestly, they clearly believed they were seriously… Read More

So the Turkeys did vote for Christmas?!?

Well,  obviously it remains to be seen just how much damage Brexit does to the UK – socially, economically and politically. But the initial consequences do not look at all good: Britain’s credit rating downgraded, the pound struggling to get much above the rock bottom it hit on Monday, up and down (but mostly down) stocks and shares (with markets right around the world affected), the banks and many big companies drawing up relocation plans (with consequent loss of jobs), a mooted 25% of companies declaring a freeze on hiring staff, a significant increase in incidents of racial and ethnic abuse, momentum building for a second Scottish independence referendum and Martin McGuinness calling for a referendum on whether the island of Ireland should be reunited. The ‘serious’ newspapers and internet news sites are full of dire predictions of far worse to come. As the so-called ‘Project Fear’ appears to be turning rapidly into reality, it would be foolish indeed to say blandly everything is going to be OK, as Boris Johnson was doing on Monday morning. The pound and the markets were stable he stated an hour or so before the pound hit a 31-year low. Everything is not OK. Not in the slightest. The UK faces an existential… Read More

Leadership – a SocioPsychological Perspective

Updated: 26 May 2016 What makes a successful leader successful? is a question that appears to have vexed politicians and philosophers from the beginnings of civilisation. Certainly, the number of books and articles on leadership by ‘management gurus’ and social psychologists since the end of World War II indicates an ongoing fascination with the topic and, arguably, a vital need to understand the nature of leadership. Peter F Drucker, Stephen Covey, Warren Bennis, Howard Gardner, James MacGregor Burns, John William Gardner, John Kotter and Peter Senge are just a handful of the heavyweight names who have contributed high-profile books on the subject. One unequivocal key factor which has emerged from the multitude of investigations into ‘leadership’ is that leadership and management are not the same thing. Drucker (1967) was perhaps the first to say this, articulating: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Covey (p101, 1989) provides an illuminating example to illustrate this point: “…envision a group of producers cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. They’re the producers, the problem-solvers. They’re cutting their way through the undergrowth, clearing it out. The managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle… Read More

Robber’s Cave

Relaunched: 4 March 2018 The Robber’s Cave study is on a par with Stanley Milgrim’s ‘Obedience Experiments’ and Philip Zimbardo’s infamous prison study at Stanford University (Craig Haney, Curtis Bank & Philip Zimbardo, 1973), both for its sheer audaciousness and what it tells us about situational pressures to produce normative influence. Muzafer Sherif had been a growing force in the development of Social Psychology ever since his ‘autokinetic effect’ experiments in 1935 had developed the concept of conformity that would come to be known as informational influence. In fact, Sherif could be considered one of the founders of Social Psychology. His work was also highly thought of by interactionist sociologists, becoming the first psychologist to receive the Cooley-Mead Award for contributions to Social Psychology from the American Sociological Association. By the end of the 1940s his interest in understanding social processes, particularly social norms and social conflict had led him to conceive of developing a field experiment in which pubescent boys would be nurtured into forming 2 distinctive teams with strong group identities to see how conflict between the 2 groups could be exacerbated and then reduced. This would be the basis of the famous and challenging Robber’s Cave study of 1954 (Muzafer Sherif et al, 1961).… Read More

Bibliography R

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P-Q    R    S     T     U    V    W    X-Y-Z Radcliffe-Brown, Alfred (1952): ‘Structure and Function in Primitive Society: Essays & Addresses’ (Cohen & West, London) Rafiq, Arif (2015): ‘Islamic State goes Official in South Asia’ in The Diplomat (4 February) Rahe, Richard, Robert Biersner, David Ryman & Ransom Arthur (1972): ‘Psychosocial Predictors of Illness Behaviour and Failure in Stressful Training’ in Journal of Health & Social Behaviour 13/4 Rahe, Richard, Jack Mahan & Ransom Arthur (1970): ‘Prediction of Near-Future Health Change from Subjects’ Preceding Life Changes’ in Journal of Psychosomatic Research 14/4 Rahe, Richard, Merle Meyer, Michael Smith, George Kjaer & Thomas Holmes (1964): ‘Social Stress and Illness Onset’ in Journal of Psychsomatic Research #8 Rahnema, Majid (1997): ‘Introduction’ in Majid Rahnema & Victoria Bawtree (eds): ‘The Post-Development Reader’ (Zed Books) London) Raine, Adrian (1993): ‘The Psychopathology of Crime: Criminal Behaviour as a Clinical Disorder’ (Academic Press, Waltham MA) Raine, Adrian, Monte Buchsbaum & Lori LaCasse (1997): ‘Brain Abnormalities in Murderers indicated by Positron Emission Tomography’ in Biological Psychiatry #42 Raine, Adrian, Reid Melroy, Susan Bihrle, Jackie Stoddard, Lori LaCasse & Monte Buchsbaum  (1998): ‘Reduced Prefrontal and Increased Subcortical Brain… Read More

Bibliography L

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P-Q    R    S     T     U    V    W    X-Y-Z LaFreniere, Peter & Alan Sroufe (1985): ‘Profiles of Peer Competence in the Preschool: Interrelations between Measures, Influence of Social Ecology, and Relation to Attachment History’ in Journal of Developmental Psychology 21/1 Lagerspetz, Kirsti (1979): ‘Modification of Aggressiveness in Mice’ in Seymour Feshbach & Adam Fraçzek (eds): ‘Aggression and Behaviour Change: Biological and Social Processes’ (Praeger Publishers, New York NY) Lagerspetz, Kirsti, & Kauko Wuorinen (1965): ‘A Cross-Fostering Experiment with Mice selectively bred for Aggressiveness and Non-Aggressiveness’ in Reports of the Institute of Psychology of the University of Turku #17 Laing, R D (1967): ‘The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradise’ (Penguin, London) Lalonde, Richard (1992): ‘The Dynamics of Group Differentiation in the Face of Defeat’ in Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin 18/3 Lalumière, Martin, Grant Harris and Marnie Rice (1999): ‘Birth Order and Fluctuating Asymmetry: a First Look’ in The Royal Society Proceedings #266 Lam, Raymond, Athanasios Zis, Arvinder Grewal, Pedro Delgado, Dennis Charney John Krystal (1996): ‘Effects of Rapid Tryptophan Depletion in Patients with Seasonal Affective Disorder in Remission after Light Therapy’ in Archives of… Read More