Stanford Prison

The Nickelodeon Columbia, SC


Dr. Sandra Kelly

Professor of Psychology, University of South Carolina

The Stanford Prison Experiment— The Psychology of Power and Imprisonment

A discussion of many of the issues inherent in the famed experiment as well as the psychology of power and imprisonment.

The Nickelodeon Columbia, SC

Film Synopsis

In 1971, Stanford Professor Philip Zimbardo conducts a controversial psychology experiment in which college students pretend to be either prisoners or guards, but the proceedings soon get out of hand.

In this tense, psychological thriller based on the notorious true story, Billy Crudup stars as Stanford University professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who, in 1971, cast 24 student volunteers as prisoners and guards in a simulated jail to examine the source of abusive behavior in the prison system. The results astonished the world, as participants went from middle-class undergrads to drunk-with-power sadists and submissive victims in just a few days. 

About the Speaker

Dr. Sandra Kelly is a Carolina Trustee Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Carolina. She received her PhD from McGill University in behavioral neuroscience in 1985. Her postdoctoral training was at the University of Iowa and SUNY Albany prior to beginning as an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina in 1988. Her research uses a rat model of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders to investigate the impact of alcohol exposure during development on social behavior and the underlying brain changes. Her recent publications have shown that there are changes in the neuronal activation and structure of neurons in areas such as the nucleus accumbens, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus. Very recent work has demonstrated that alcohol exposure during development impacts epigenetic markers which could underlie the long-term changes seen in this animal model. In addition to the work on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, Dr. Kelly has recently started a new line of research using Peromyscus mice to examine the neurogenomic bases of monogamy.