Abstract for: Behind Closed Gates: Potential Dynamics When One Individual or Group Is Given Complete Authority Over Another

The Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE), conducted at Stanford University by Philip Zimbardo in 1971, is a powerful example of seeing how people respond in highly stressful situations in which one individual or group has power over another. Although this type of experiment no longer meets the ethical standards for human study, the learning that has resulted impacts current understanding and, in some cases, decisions about how to structure systems, such as penal institutions. Barry Richmond found this and other psychological studies to be perfect issues to consider within the frame of system dynamics. He created models for some of these studies, including the Zimbardo study and the Milgram Experiments. Starting with Barry’s original model of the SPE, the model was revised and an interactive interface created, which is now available for use by K-12 educators. Because Barry was willing to share his models with educators, middle and high school students have gained and continue to gain new understanding, connecting these studies to other systems explored within literary and historical contexts.