“The experiment was conducted by a team of researchers led by Psychology professor Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. Twenty-four students were selected out of 75 to play the prisoners and live in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.”… 12 students we asked to play the prisoners, 12 students were to play the guards.
“The participants adapted to their roles well beyond what even Zimbardo himself expected, leading the “officers” to display authoritarian measures and ultimately to subject some of the prisoners to torture. In turn, many of the prisoners developed passive attitudes and accepted physical abuse, and, at the request of the guards, readily inflicted punishment on other prisoners who attempted to stop it.
The experiment even affected Zimbardo himself, who, in his capacity as “Prison Superintendent,” lost sight of his role as psychologist and permitted the abuse to continue as though it were a real prison. Five of the prisoners were upset enough by the process to quit the experiment early, and the entire experiment was abruptly stopped after only six days… instead of the originally scheduled fourteen.”
Conclusion: Most of the evil in the world happens not due to bad motivation, but because one is told: “Be part of our team, do as everyone else does.” Then, a person feels that he himself is not responsible, but this is his role, he was told so, and so he lets himself do things that he would have never done under normal circumstances.
Two months after the experiment, one of the guards said that he really could never believe that he was capable of such behavior. He was shocked that he became such a person, and when he was doing that, he felt neither remorse nor guilt. Only later, when he started thinking about that, he realized that it was some part of him that he had never noticed before.
Even when one detainee was given a chance to get out of prison and explained that the experiment was over, he was so deeply immersed in his role that he could not accept that. He worried more about his reputation in the prison, wanting to return and prove to other prisoners that he was not a traitor.
My Comment: As the science of Kabbalah explains, the environment defines and molds a person, and apart from the environment, there is no other force that affects us and determines what we are and what we become. Therefore, it is very important to create a suitable environment, in accordance with the purpose that you wish to achieve. And this is the core principle of Kabbalistic education: to be in the group that studies the laws of nature (the Creator) and wishes to achieve balance and unity with it (the Creator).