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Questions and Answers based on chapter 2 of Intro to Sociology.
Intro to Sociology Online

Chapter 2 Questions

1)          What important lessons did we learn as a result of the experiment conducted at the Western Electric Company in the 1930's?

Well, the Hawthorn Experiment was conducted because the Western Electric Company wanted to figure out ways to increase worker productivity. First, by selecting a reliable Dependent Variable (Worker Output(DV)), they had a basis on which to measure all further results. Then by Selecting the Independent Variable (amount of lighting(IV)), they had a method by which to test the hypothesis presented by R&D.

The hypothesis was that the DV would increase based on the IV. During the first experiment, the hypothesis was proven true, the DV increased when the IV increased. What was different was that later, when they decreased the IV, the DV also increased.

What was discovered by this experiment is that the DV increased not because the IV was increased (while true), it increased because it showed the workers that someone cared about their well-being and  was interested in their level of output. Thusly, the workers’ level of production banked on the level of attention the management paid to the workers.

2)          What did Philip Zimbardo's research illustrate in the infamous Stanford County Prison experiment?

The premise while confusing when you first read it is simple in theory. The Dependent Variable “violence” (DV) and the Independent Variable “prison setting” (IV) are used to define and prove the hypothesis that “once inside a prison, even emotionally healthy people are prone to violence.”(Zimbardo, 1972)

After the mock arresting and imprisoning of the selected individuals chosen to be the “prisoners,” the men chosen to be the “guards” humiliated the prisoners by assigning them tasks degrading to them. Conversely, the prisoners responded by resisting the guards and insulting them.

After five days, five of the men were removed after displaying “extreme emotional depression, crying, rage, and acute anxiety.”  It turns out that Zimbardo’s hypothesis was correct, almost too correct. By that I mean, the experiment had to be canceled because the condition in the mock prison became so bad, they had to shut it down.

The evidence was supportive of the hypothesis that” prison violence is rooted in the social character of jails not in the personalities of the prisoners or guards.”  Also, as a side effect, the experiment showed that research of this kind may also damage the individuals involved and should therefore not be taken lightly in any way, shape or form. If situations such as this experiment showed arise, the experiment MUST be scratched.

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