Guard Actions in Stanford Prison Experiment: Nature or Nurture?

Nature Vs Nurture Essay

The “Stanford Prison Experiment” led to a debate on whether the guards’ actions were due to nature or nurture. Nature is based on genetics and nurture is based on the environment. In “Stanford Prison Experiment” by Saul McLeod, he discusses an experiment conducted by Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist. In this experiment, people were tested to see how they would react in a simulated prison environment. Additionally, in “The Making and Unmaking of a criminal” by Lindsay Beller, she discusses the causes of criminal behavior and how genetics or the environment can play a role in a criminals’ behavior.

The guards’ actions in the “Stanford Prison Experiment” were the result of nurture due to the environment they were in and the things that were exposed to.

Due to the environment the guards were in, they acted differently than normal. According to the “Stanford Prison Experiment” by Saul McLeod, “More than 70 applicants answered the ad and were given diagnostic interviews to eliminate candidates with psychological problems.

” According to this statement, McLeod is saying how the applicants were given many tests to see if there was anybody with any problems. This is to see how they would act while doing the experiment knowing that the applicants have no problems. If they do change the way they act, it will be because of the environment they are in. Later in the article, McLeod states that “Within a very short time, both guards and prisoners were settling into their new roles… Within hours of beginning the experiment, some guards began to harass prisoners.

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” This is saying that after they were assigned roles, the guards felt more powerful than the prisoners and started to abuse their powers by harassing the prisoners. They didn’t act like this before the experiment, as stated before in the article. The guards’actions are nurture because of the things that were exposed to them when they were younger. According to “The Making and Unmaking of a Criminal” by Lindsay Beller,

Nature Vs Nurture Essay

she states that “When you understand where the individual came from, what they were exposed to, and the environment in which they grew up, you can understand why they engaged in the behavior that they did.” Beller means that if someone understands where an individual came from and what they were exposed to, it’ll show why someone acts like the way they do.

Wherever someone grew up, it can affect the way they act. She also later states “Many experts argue that inheriting a particular gene doesn’t necessarily predispose some to a life of crime-but add in an abusive or violent childhood or another negative environmental factor and that risk greatly increases.” Beller is saying how genes don’t affect the way people act but when given an environmental situation, in this case, the prison, people can change. This relates to the guards because they were abusing the prisoners even though the prisoners didn’t do anything wrong. However, some may say that nature is to blame for the guards’ actions. As stated by Lindsay Beller, “For example, the “Supermale” syndrome posited that men with an XYY chromosome pattern were thought to exhibit aggressive and antisocial behavior.” This is saying that people that have a syndrome called “Supermale” tend to act more aggressive than people without this syndrome. All of the guards were also male and they could’ve had the syndrome. However, people can also change even if they don’t have an XYY chromosome pattern based on the people around them and the environment. This syndrome can only be found with people that have a XYY chromosome pattern. Not everyone has pattern, which means some guards can have it but the others don’t. The environment affected the guards’ actions more than genes did because they abused their powers and prisoners. They didn’t have any problems to begin with until the experiment started. Many would say that the environment is to blame for the guards’ actions. The Guards’ never had a problem to begin with and during the experiment, they acted differently. The

Nature Vs Nurture Essay

Stanford Prison Experiment is to show how people would act given a circumstance where power is given to the guards’. Nurture is to blame for most of the criminals’actions, just like the guards’. The environment can change the way everyone acts and can affect anyone.

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Guard Actions in Stanford Prison Experiment: Nature or Nurture?. (2021, Dec 21). Retrieved from

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