So, the Stanford prison experiment may be one of the best known psychology experiments especially as it ended somewhat prematurely and dramatically. The experiment is widely cited and examined in psychology programs online and in universities nationwide. Mainly because, the notion of switching roles, and how quickly and easily people engaged with their new roles without retaining any of their personal experiences is frightening. Why am I thinking about this? Because despite personally feeling that a ‘them and us’ physical barrier as well as mental barrier in our team would be detrimental and lets face it, antiquated (I am a ‘them’ and previously an ‘us’), this is what the team leader wants us to revert back to. Actually I’m not so blind as to see that as humans we naturally do this anyway from as early as the playground. Its almost as if to bond, we have to find a common enemy ‘them’, and in doing so, we create a safe community, and we behave accordingly. Almost 2 years ago I applied for a job within my team which meant I made the leap from producer (placing orders, receiving goods, cataloguing) to administrator (manager, leader), however I have tried to hold on and have empathy for how the producers work and what their needs are. What language do I speak? applies more now than ever. So anyone…..if you had to reverse roles, go ‘back to the shop floor’ or ‘head for the dizzy heights’ how do you think you would react? Do the ideas we have of what we would do if we had the authority just turn into unrealistic fantasies? Do the ideas we have of how we would behave and work as a producer also become fantasies?
Many films have been made about switching roles, usually romantic comedies, but usually the person is thrust into a role they desire and then feel they have to behave as society expects or as a stereotype, but never within the boundaries of their own experience. Interesting.