Friday, February 29, 2008

Where's My Overthruster?

Wow, it's the IRL Buckaroo Banzai!

Okay, so he's not a surgeon....yet.

Also from the really cool TED conference: Zimbardo talks about Abu Ghraib. (Events that--I'm sorry to say--I predicted, as most psychologists could have. Or at least most feminist psychologists or social psychologists.)


argotnaut said...

Okay, now what really bugs me, though -- it's too late and I'm too tired to look up the reference -- is that there was a follow-up to Zimbardo's original study.

They placed two ads in papers: one was exactly the same as Zimbardo's original ad, and the other removed any references to "prison." What they found was that people who responded to the "prison" ad scored differently on psychological scales than people who responded to the "non-prison" ad. I don't know what scales you use, but I'm sure it had something to do with egocentricity, hostility, ...?

So, Zimbardo's original study was flawed in that it did in fact attract a certain type of person who might be predisposed to such behavior, rather than a random sample of the general population.

argotnaut said...

Ah yes, here's the abstract: Right here!

liz said...

Yes, there were a number of...shall we say, irregularities in that study. And a number of other practices best left unreplicated.

Actually, now that I think about it, I think self-selection may be applicable in the Abu Ghraib situation after all (in my pessimistic way...)

In my highly unclear way of communicating, however, I was actually not thinking of prison studies at all when I was predicting atrocities ('way back in the day) but rather of the literature regarding wartime sexual assault.

argotnaut said...

Ah, I see.

And I wasn't bugged by you -- I'm just bugged that people unquestioningly bring up that study to explain any and all bad behavior.

I'm sure it would never make it through Human Subjects nowadays!

liz said...

No, it wouldn't even get close to a review board, I'm guessing.