An interesting study that relates to this idea of our personalities changing based on our environment and socialization is found in Chapter 1 of our text. It s the Stanford County Prison experiment conducted by Zimbardo. Zimbardo s hypothesis was that once inside prison, even emotionally healthy people would become prone to violence.
Twenty four healthy young men were placed in a mock prison. Half the men were assigned as prisoners and half as guards. Very early into the experiment, both the guards and prisoners became hostile towards each other. Guards humiliated the prisoners by giving them jobs such as cleaning out toilets with their bare hands. The prisoners, for their part, resisted and insulted the guards (Macionis, 2006, p. 22). Within four days, five prisoners had to be removed due to depression, crying, rage, and acute anxiety. The experiment had to be called off before the end of the first week due to the fast decline of the participants.
Our environments can play such a huge role in our behavior. Can anyone think of an example where when in an unusual environment, you saw yourself display behaviors that are highly uncharacteristic of you?