39 years ago today, Philip Zimbardo and his psychology students embarked on The Stanford Prison Experiment and demonstrated that we are all capable of psychological and physical violence upon other humans in conducive institutional environments.

The fabricated prison in the basement of the Stanford University Psychology Department became grim reality when the volunteers – randomly selected as either ‘prisoners’ or ‘guards’ – played out their parts with authoritarian abuse and complete submission, respectively.

The experiment was abandoned after six days. It was intended to last two weeks.

Everything you could ever want to know about the original experiment and its legacy can be found here.