A Demonstration That Such Can Occur. Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment

There has been Very much discussion in the last week about the study, and suggestions that because the participants were somehow encouraged or suggested to act in some particular way, that the study is no longer interesting or informative.

As I see it, this is a mistake.

The study is both interesting and informative, because it shows that with a couple of days and some appearance of authority people will do things they know are wrong to people they know are innocent.

That in its self is ridiculous and crazy informative and definitely worth talking about. And probably thinking more about how to avoid.

But instead there have even been suggestions that because the participants were coached the study is no longer pure, A similar criticism is leveled at Milgram’s pretend shock experiments. Yes, the study probably cannot say anything fundamental about human nature, or maybe it does. But the study is informative and interesting in any case, because such a situation can be created within even a week. Probably faster if one really trained in it.

This has serious implications for.. everything. Pretty much every leader follower relationship in the world. Teams, businesses, labs, cults, and the military. People with even pretend power (such as a research assistant or lab PI) can make people do things they might not otherwise do (e.g., Questionable Research Practices, beating people). Maybe it doesn’t hold so well because they were paid very well, but I am not sure.


tldr; the study shows that such a situation can be created even quite easily, and I don’t think this changes depending on coaching or what.



Theory and Experiment in Social Communication


Attached is Festinger’s book on Social Communication, mostly a summary of the research done at the Research Center for Group Dynamics, with Kurt Back, Stanley Schacter, Harold Kelley, and John Thibaut.

Theory in social dynamics — HERE IS THE PDF 



One thing is I like how simple the table of contents is. and interesting!


This book really set the stage for social psychology, and it is really an interesting demonstration just of how science should be done. Simply, theory driven, with large grants from the navy. 😀


hope you enjoy it, Festinger is one of my favorites, and happy to bring it here.


All Best,


My first academic paper

Check it out yall, my first academic paper. 😀

Using science and psychology to improve the dissemination and evaluation of scientific work

Here I outline some of what science can tell us about the problems in psychological publishing and how to best address those problems. First, the motivation behind questionable research practices is examined (the desire to get ahead or, at least, not fall behind). Next, behavior modification strategies are discussed, pointing out that reward works better than punishment. Humans are utility seekers and the implementation of current change initiatives is hindered by high initial buy-in costs and insufficient expected utility. Open science tools interested in improving science should team up, to increase utility while lowering the cost and risk associated with engagement. The best way to realign individual and group motives will probably be to create one, centralized, easy to use, platform, with a profile, a feed of targeted science stories based upon previous system interaction, a sophisticated (public) discussion section, and impact metrics which use the associated data. These measures encourage high quality review and other prosocial activities while inhibiting self-serving behavior. Some advantages of centrally digitizing communications are outlined, including ways the data could be used to improve the peer review process. Most generally, it seems that decisions about change design and implementation should be theory and data driven.