chapter  21
11 Pages

Role-playing

O Have you ever felt this way? Why? O What do you think might happen next to this

person? O If you inferred an unpleasant emotion, what

possible action might the person(s) take in order to feel better?

The second example of a role-playing study is the well-known Stanford Prison experiment carried out by Haney et al. (1973), a brief overview of which is given in Box 21.2. Enthusiasts of role-playing as a research methodology cite experiments such as the Stanford Prison study to support their claim that where realism and spontaneity can be introduced into role-play, then such experimental conditions do, in fact, simulate both symbolically and phenomenologically the real-life analogues that they purport to represent. Advocates of role-play would concur with the conclusions of Haney and his associates that the simulated prison developed into a psychologically compelling prison environment and they, too, would infer that the dramatic differences in the behaviour of prisoners and guards arose out of their location in different positions within the institutional structure of the prison and the social psychological conditions that prevailed there, rather than from personality differences between the two groups of subjects (see Banuazizi and Movahedi 1975).