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Social Influence: Conformity to Social Roles as Investigated by Zimbardo | AQA A-Level Psychology


Last updated 22 Dec 2023

This topic quiz tests A-Level psychology students' knowledge and understanding of Philip Zimbardo's investigations into conformity to social roles.

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Social Influence: Conformity to Social Roles as Investigated by Zimbardo

The Stanford Prison Experiment conducted by Philip Zimbardo in 1973 aimed to investigate the influence of social roles on behaviour. Zimbardo randomly assigned participants to play the role of either a guard or a prisoner in a mock prison environment.

The study found that the participants who were assigned the role of guards quickly conformed to the expectations of their role, becoming aggressive and authoritarian towards the prisoners. Conversely, the prisoners also conformed to their role, becoming passive and obedient.

Zimbardo's findings demonstrated the power of social roles in shaping behaviour, highlighting the impact of situational factors on human behaviour. However, the study has also been heavily criticized for ethical concerns and the potential for demand characteristics to have influenced the results.

Nevertheless, the study remains a significant contribution to the field of social psychology and has sparked ongoing debate and discussion on the topic of conformity to social roles.

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