It has been maintained by Dr. Philip Zimbardo that the experiment has had no long-term harm on the participants. However, one out of the 24 initial participants, who had suffered a breakdown within 36 hours of starting, later went on to become a prison psychologist and has been in the profession for at least 14 years.

While the experiment may not have had any "harm" on the participants, the fact that it had such a huge impact on one participant (as the person himself claims in the experiment documentary), calls into question the fact that how much did the experiment end up altering or affecting the participant's lives.

So, were long term effects (not just "harm") of the experiment tracked and documented by the team or anybody else? If tracked, has this been published at any point of time?

Secondly, in most of the popular literature and even on the official website, I do not find any discussion of the experiment in terms of long term effects. Are long-term effects of psychological studies on participants' not considered worth recording? Why?

  • $\begingroup$ Note that Stanford Prison was not an experiment, but a role-play and simulation, or demo, or at best, a pilot. Thus, its participants were more like actors than subjects, warranting little need for follow-up. Some were interviewed long after the study, in case you're interested. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 5:47

1 Answer 1


I found this snippet from Quora: Whatever happened to the participants in the Stanford Prison Experiment?

"They performed extensive follow-ups by bringing all the subjects back individually or in groups over a period of the first year and then for the next ten years they have surveyed them by mail and phone and the consensus is that they did suffer during that week of the experiment, but they learned a great deal about themselves and about human nature that most of them say was quite valuable."

Perhaps within the first decade after the experiment they found constancy in how the participants were affected and felt there was no longer a need for further analysis / recording.

  • $\begingroup$ I am aware of this. I was asking specifically about long term effects not limited to negative effects (harm). Moreover, this is exactly what is mentioned in Quiet Rage. In fact, IIRC the Quora answer has changed the wording of the statement. $\endgroup$
    – asheeshr
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 17:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.