Decisions and outcomes
We ended the study when we did was because, in our judgement, the system was stuck and could neither move forwards nor backwards. The Commune was falling apart, but at the same time, the reintroduction of a Guard-Prisoner hierarchy was not going to occur without considerable unpleasantness – and possibly violence.
Scientifically, our feeling was that the blocked system meant we would not be able to collect any interesting new data. Ethically, we could not allow violence to occur, and, afterwards, the ethics committee indicated that, had we let things continue in the direction they were heading, they would have probably have intervened to stop the study anyway.
Moreover, we wanted participants to feel positive about their experience. By ending the study a day-and-a-half early, we were able to use the remaining time to conduct exercises designed to rebuild positive relationships between participants. This process was successful and hence we feel that our decision was justified – although it was certainly difficult to make at the time.