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PSYC 215 Lecture Notes - Trailer Park, First Story, Equity Theory

Course Code
PSYC 215
Donald Taylor

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PSYCH 215 Lecture Nov 28
Zimbargo’s famous prison experiments: they are powerful evidence for how
extraordinary demands roles make on us
Basement of Stanford university
Cheaply as possible turned the basement into a mock prison
Got undergrad students and gave them battery of personality tests- only
made sure people who were very normal psychologically speaking students
No weirdo’s- everyone is normal, he randomly divides students into 2
groups: prisoners and guards
Students aware of what they’re getting into- the guards are given
instructions and uniforms
The prisoners had it worked out with local cops- went to homes of students
and picked up by quad car and brought to basement and were fingerprinted,
photographer and cells
The overwhelming findings- the level to which the guards followed roles and
level to which the prisoners acted out their role was so convincing that he
had to stop experiment, very dangerous
Guards- psychologically and physically abused prisoners
Prisoners- retreated into passive aggressive, non-participatory behavior
Lives changed over night- to begin they were perfectly normal
They were not given specific instructions about how to behave- just behaved
according to how they thought they should
We don’t recognize the power because we’re in our roles and we’ve bought
into them and just do it
Zero Tolerance
New buzz word we’ve all heard about
Anywhere near schools- all kinds of posters about zero tolerance, “zero
tolerance for bullying, drugs, violence”
One example, companies everywhere
Nobody is thinking the concept through
It means “this place doesn’t think it’s a good idea”- well why zero tolerance?
Zero tolerance grew up in a situation where authorities wanted to get across
the idea that the behavior is not acceptable or not normative- that doesn’t
It simply means, you break this norm- you’re gone, no discussion
It did not come from schools- where you have ordinary school situation and a
few bullies, develop counseling to deal with problems and so forth
Most people react to bullying when they see it on the rise
Came from situations where the norm had been reversed
o In some inner-city high school where prof worked every student came
to school with a weapon, every day was violent
o Never heard discussion about new program
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o Just how do I survive the day as a teacher- how do I maintain
o That’s where zero-tolerance is born
o Or in community that is so over run by drugs and crack-houses where
nobody can walk down the street without fearing for their lives
o Situations where norms are way out of whack
Not 80 good to 20 bad, reversed
Zero tolerance said: you come into this school with a weapon, you’re gone
from this school forever
o Extreme
o Don’t come in with a weapon- don’t bring a gun, a knife, a pen knife, a
plastic gun, a cardboard gun
o Don’t bring even a knife to cut apple- no debate
HUGE POLICY- violates equity theory, person who performs best gets better
grade, ratio is what counts
o The bigger the crime the longer the time
o Small transgression small punishment
o Big bad transgression, big bad punishment
o Does not follow equity- I don’t care if what you’re doing is small,
medium or large- large punishment
o Right away don’t like the sound of it
Why does it make sense?
o For 99% of the situations we know zero penalty doesn’t make sense
o You do A you get a days suspension- you do B you get a week
o Its graded upon severity
o When times are desperate- that’s when you apply zero tolerance
o Teachers and students did not know they would come home that
night from school- THAT’S WHERE ZERO APPLIES
o We use the word in a totally different way- it’s not a good idea
o REAL- you even hit at the behavior we’re trying to change and you’re
o First story) every talk show, every city- a kid brought a plastic knife to
school and went into the cafeteria and started cutting his apple with
the knife- principle told him to pack his bags and leave
They’re thinking for the last 20 years environment has been so
violent know one is learning anything
They’re only one way to turn it around- no tolerance, no debate
The minute students see there’s leeway- they don’t take it
Anything that resembles a weapon, you’re gone
Anything short of that, no way the school can turn itself around
o It is not a policy that makes sense in normal situations
o Normal things we do aren’t enough in some situations- telling a
student he had a detention meant nothing, student would just pull a
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