Social psychologists have attempted to understand human behavior, in particular the role that the group plays in individual decision making. The study of morality is important in explaining how humans can do things that are considered antisocial. Morality can be described as a code of conduct that is put forth by society. These group values govern every aspect of our life such as; views on government, religion as well as how we interact with other each other. Scientists have wanted to know how civilized people can produce such atrocious acts ( Haslam, 2005). Despite its difficulty this subject has roused many psychologists and philosophers to study this phenomenon for over 60 years.
Psychologists, Philip Zimbardo, Curtis Banks, Dave Jaffe and Craig Haney manufactured one of the most influential studies on immoral behavior known as The Stanford prison experiment which took place in the 1970's. Zimbardo wanted to test his belief that extreme environmental circumstances could lead society to overcome its natural tendencies and participate in monstrous behavior (Hock 2012). This powerful experiment produced unexpected results and established groundbreaking insight on how easily an individual can go against social norms and commit atrocious acts. It is important to understand how Zimbardo's research has changed how psychology views the impact of authority and group dynamics on individual decision making.
With limited space available, Zimbardo attempted to produce an atmosphere congruent with prison life in order to gage participant behavior. For extra insight a former prison inmate was brought in as a consultant while Zimbardo converted the basement of the Stanford University psychology building into a mock prison. (Zimbardo, 2007). Hidden cameras and intercom systems where placed to ensure 24 hour surveillance. Lab rooms had been transformed into prison cells, hallways into a prison yard for his research design, Zimbardo even went so far as to place vertical bars on closet doors for solitary confinement.