Publication Date


Degree Type

Master of Arts


The Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) is one of the most studied and celebrated studies within social psychology. The results have long been attributed to the power of the situation and the roles that were given to the participants. The present study was based on research concerning how personality variables influence interest in volunteerism. The research hypotheses center around the belief that individuals who volunteer for a study on prison life (similar to the advertisement for the SPE) would differ on personality variables (Machiavellianism, narcissism, social dominance, authoritarianism, aggression, empathy, and altruism) from individuals who volunteer for a generic psychological study or a helpingbehavior study. The results indicated full support for all of the hypotheses and that the SPE was likely confounded by the recruitment technique used by the SPE creators, which elicited only those participants who have been shown in this study to be more aggressive, emotionally detached, authoritative, and lacking in empathy for others in interpersonal situations.



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