The Student Room Group

A level psychology - conformity

A mock psychiatric ward
This scenario is based on an actual study by Norma
Jean Orlando (1973).
A researcher decided to investigate how conformity to social roles can influence people to behave in extreme ways. She selected staff at a psychiatric hospital to play the roles of patients on a ward for one week. After two days, several mock patients experienced symptoms of psychological disturbance, some cried uncontrollably, others became extremely withdrawn, and a few tried to escape. As time went on, most of the participants became more anxious and depressed, and felt very strongly that they were trapped and isolated. The study had to be ended early because some 'patients' were losing their sense of self-identity.
Use your knowledge of Zimbardo's research into conformity to social roles to explain why the mock patients behaved as they did.

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