The BBC Prison Study
These pages provide a timeline that tells the full story of the BBC Prison Study from the moment the project was first conceived to the point where we drew conclusions from its findings.
We explain the background to the study and the ideas that motivated us to do it. We document the way the study was set up, with special emphasis on the ethical issues surrounding such a challenging project. We then describe what happened in the various phases of the study: early days, conflict, order, rebellion, tyranny.
Finally, we outline the key conclusions that we draw from the study. When do people identify with the groups and roles in which they find themselves? When are they able to organize themselves and act effectively? What is the effect of groups on well-being? When do people embrace tyranny?
We don’t just tell our story in words. We also provide photographs and videos to help bring the story alive and to provide a richer feel of exactly what took place over the 9 days that the study lasted.