THE LUCIFER EFFECT PHILIP ZIMBARDO PDF
The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. The Lucifer Effect won the William James Book Award in In , an experiment took place in Stanford University Psychology department: a basement . An Analysis of Philip Zimbardo's The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil By Alexander J. O'Connor 1 WAYS IN TO THE TEXT Key Points .
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EFFECT. Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. Philip Zimbardo .. Lucifer -Satan becomes a liar, an empty imposter who uses boasts, spears, trum-. of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Zimbardo, Philip G. The lucifer effect: understanding how good people turn evil / Philip Zimbardo. — 1st ed. p. cm. The Lucifer Effect Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (ISBN 1 3). Topics Lucifer Effect, CAS, Children's Aid Society.
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Good can indeed go bad. But how does this happen? What are the preconditions for turning evil? We recommend this book to all readers who want to get a better understanding of human nature, as well as to those who wish to know why good people can turn evil.
The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo
Philip Zimbardo , famous for his Stanford prison experiment, used to teach psychology at Stanford University. He is also an author and a former president of the American Psychological Association. Try to think of a time when you took something that was not yours, while no one was watching. Most people have a memory of something like that. No, it is not the greatest of evils, but it shows that sometimes we are willing to do things which we would not do if the situation did not allow it.
However, in our conception of the world, we adopt the notion that some people are born evil, and that is it. The truth is somewhat different. In reality, the line between good and evil is fragile , and people can pass it. So pointing fingers and the assumptions that only evil people do evil deeds are wrong. Psychologists and psychiatrists focus on dispositional causes, or the inborn traits of our behavior such as character, genetic, pathologies.
However, although we do carry these attributes with us, there are some situational causes which are more responsible for our behavior than our inherent characteristics. Just think of the way you behave around your friends and the way you act around small children.
What we want to say is that personalities and human character are not static. They do change, according to the circumstances and the social contexts that surround you. This perception is called the situational approach to comprehending human conduct.
What it means is that you become what you need to become based on the situation you are in. Okay, it is clear that some circumstances can turn ordinary people into monsters. But what are the specific factors? One vital aspect of the transformation of individuals is obedience to authority. What is important is that most people choose to be obedient even if it means to be cruel. Authority figures, as history shows, can turn from good to evil as well.
Followers rarely disobey. They also follow the change. Another thing that can cause evil deeds to happen is a lack of personal responsibility. In these cases we talk about deindividuation which leads to carrying out evil actions, when you believe are anonymous. Studies show that people are more tempted to be evil when they think that no one will recognize them. Most people around the globe believe they are morally upright. But history is full of examples of cruelty to humans, from fellow humans.
By dehumanization, or the process of stopping to see someone as fully human. A classic on the subject, Zimbardo tackles in this book the longest description and explanation of his Stanford Prison Experiment, along with two other main themes: Now, of course I am a little biased at the moment I am using his study as a building block for an essay on obedience and my Social Psychology paper was on Abu Ghraib , but I loved this book.
I love the subject, I love the writing, I find the entire theme endlessly A classic on the subject, Zimbardo tackles in this book the longest description and explanation of his Stanford Prison Experiment, along with two other main themes: I love the subject, I love the writing, I find the entire theme endlessly fascinating and also - don't tell anyone - I really like Zimbardo.
I think he is a great psychologist who happened to conduct the right experiment at the right time, and his work on heroism and altruism could truly change the way we raise our children and the way our societies respond to human rights violations and other morally unjustifiable things. For anyone interested in the "psychology of evil", situational vs dispositional factors, oppressive systems - or for anyone who comes with a historical interest from the side of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th and 21st Century - this is truly a book for you.
I would argue, one of the best works on a branch of psychology, ever. Jul 13, Eden Prosper rated it it was amazing. A lot of psychology books tend to be a bit dry or scientifically wordy, becoming tedious and stodgy. The Lucifer Effect delves into the psychology of roles we assume when forced into power struggles. Starting off with a short overview on crimes against humanity, the history of the degradation in Rwanda and Nanking, the horrors and abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison, and the atrocity of Nazi Germany.
The first half of the book is a written reenactment of his Stanford Prison Experiment organized in in which he selected a group of college students to assume the role of prisoners and another group to assume the role of guards, set up in a mock prison, they were to endure a set of prison rules for two weeks. The experiment proved interesting insight into the psychology of sadism, humiliation, and dehumanization, of prisoners surrendering their humanity and compassion to social power.
These chapters are, indeed, monotonous and are lagging in interest; however I found them to have a reasonably significant share in revealing the pattern of thought that we undergo when put in these situations.
His aspiration with this study was to differentiate between dispositional behaviors and situational, in which we overemphasize personality in explaining any behavior while concurrently underemphasizing situational influences.
This hits home, living in a society that encourages individualism. Typically, roles are tied to specific situations; they are enacted when one is in that situation.
Yet some roles are sinister, and can become who we are most of the time. Most interesting are the chapters following the review of the SPE in which Zimbardo analyses the psychological transformation of the human mind under pressure.
We are just as capable of doing good as we are of doing evil.
Just as evil is unconsciously learned, so we can learn strategies of resistance towards evil deeds. This was a liberating read for me as it raised my consciousness to underlying psychological evil in the human condition.
As an ordinary person, I can be seduced into behaving in evil ways under the sway of powerful systematic and situational forces. Only by being made aware of my influential limitations, can I then make the ethical choice between the permeable line between good and evil as we are not slaves to the power of situational forces, and we can learn to resist and oppose them.
Such knowledge can release us all from subjugation to the mighty grasp of conformity, compliance, persuasion, and other forms of social influence and coercion. After all, we are only human. Complex, yet very far from perfect. Our species has reached its special place on Earth because of our remarkable capacity for learning, for language, for reasoning, for inventing, and for imagining new and better futures.
Every human being has the potential to perfect the skills, talents, and attributes we need to go beyond surviving to thrive and enhance our human condition. View 2 comments.
View all 6 comments. Aug 18, Nikki rated it really liked it Shelves: This was run, not by Stanley Milgram, as people often think, but by Philip Zimbardo, and even he became caught up in the act of it. And not even them, but people outside it who should have seen through the illusion, like the chaplain.
Kudos to Zimbardo for his unflinching discussion of everything that went on in the experiment, and every time he failed to safeguard the interests of the participants. Originally posted here. Oct 10, Kq rated it it was ok. The first or so pages are about The Stanford Prison Experiment study involving the psychological effects of prisoners and prison guards. If you took Psychology or in college you more than likely read about it. Anyway, once I reached page I was really wishing for a new topic, but no, it kept going and going--repeating the same subject matter and psychological fi This book should be called "The Stanford Prison Experiment and Other Things Regarding How Good People Turn Evil".
Anyway, once I reached page I was really wishing for a new topic, but no, it kept going and going--repeating the same subject matter and psychological findings of the Stanford study. Once I saw the light and new subject was finally presented maybe around page I was pretty burnt out and at that point, I didn't care anymore.
I read the rest of the or so pages, however I can't recall anything that I read and I don't care.
Cool title, interesting topic, interesting experiment. Apr 29, Selene rated it liked it. I had to read this for a psychology class in college. Be forewarned -- this is not a relaxing book on any level. Having said that, it's pretty fantastic. How good people turn evil is a huge question, more ambitious than most authors would undertake and probably a set-up for disappointment as who can possibly answer that? And I admit, Zimbardo's answers are incomplete but still pretty impressive.
According to Zimbardo, when we try to explain good people committing evil deeds we tend to rely on what's called dispositional explanations -- it's about THE Be forewarned -- this is not a relaxing book on any level. According to Zimbardo, when we try to explain good people committing evil deeds we tend to rely on what's called dispositional explanations -- it's about THEM, their personality, their character, the fact that they are one of those few "bad apples" that spoils the barrel.
Zimbardo, a prominent social psychologist, strongly advocates replacing this thinking with a situational explanation -- the idea that the situation is a set-up for bringing out evil qualities in any normal person, or that we should blame the "bad barrel" for creating the "bad apples" rather than the other way around. Zimbardo makes his case convincingly with a level of detail that feels overwhelming at times but is necessary in order to help the reader truly appreciate his position his writing style also balances a scholarly and academic tone with highly personal insights, which serve to make the book more engaging.
He first explores his famous experiment, the Zimbardo prison experiment of , where he randomly assigned college students to the roles of "prisoner" and "guard," staged the "prisoners'" arrests, and brought the prisoners to a mock prison he set up in a basement at Stanford University.
Although the experiment was meant to last two weeks, it was disbanded after five days because everyone got way too carried away. The guards became completely absorbed in their roles and psychologically abused the prisoners; the prisoners, for their part, quickly displayed signs of learned helplessness and mostly broke rather than successfully resisting their guards.
Note -- every participant in the experiment was prescreened for signs of preexisting psychopathology and all were found to be completely normal. After describing this experiment in much detail, Zimbardo goes on to discuss the ethics of the experiment and to apply it to a variety of prisoner-guard situations.
He then describes other social psychology experiments which further support his situational theory of normal people turning evil, culminating in a detailed discussion of the events at Abu Ghraib and making convincing arguments for the idea that the situation, and the system, carried more of the blame than did the individual guards although of course he does not completely absolve them of personal responsibility.
Zimbardo's book is well-written, intelligent, and ultimately convincing. It did not address one question I had: Was I simply wrong about them, or is there a more complicated explanation? But with that said, this was as complete an answer as you're probably going to get to why the Nazis, the Abu Ghraib prison guards, and others can seem like normal people through and through and then turn around and engage in cruelty.
The book's style as well as its content make it a difficult read at times but it is ultimately very rewarding. Highly recommended. View all 10 comments.
May 29, Letitia rated it really liked it Shelves: It is extremely difficult to rate this book because I have a thousand thoughts about it. So I am rating it a 4-star because I DO want people to read it.
However if I were ranking Zimbardo as an author alone, I would give it 2 stars. Despite Zimbardo's abysmal efforts as a writer, this is a fascinating book, which examines many known and unknown studies on "evil. Maybe watch the videos online, i It is extremely difficult to rate this book because I have a thousand thoughts about it. Maybe watch the videos online, instead.
This section of the book is tedious, and Z summarizes it all repeatedly anyway. When it really gets interesting is AFTER the description of SPE, when Z collects many other studies with a far better methodology that look at what makes morally good or neutral people decide to do cruel things.
This is the stuff that keeps social scientists awake at night, and I love it! Z draws on experiences with Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Third Reich, and all of them are fascinating and horrifying examples of what seemingly good people will do to each other when an authority tells them to. I highly recommend this book for discussion groups, book clubs, etc. If you can muddle through Z's repetitive descriptions and truly awful methodology, this book brings up really fascinating questions about who we are as individuals, and whether who we are as a group is comprised of something totally different.
Jul 01, Sara Sherra rated it it was ok. A while ago, i found the book title really interesting and decided at once to add the book to my "to-read" list. I was, unfortunately, very disappointed with it, as it turned out to be not quite what i expected.
Zimbardo was excessively thorough regarding the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Abu Ghraib incident, only to the point that proves that ordinary A while ago, i found the book title really interesting and decided at once to add the book to my "to-read" list. Zimbardo was excessively thorough regarding the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Abu Ghraib incident, only to the point that proves that ordinary "good" people can "turn bad" when faced with certain situations, but not why or how it can be avoided , as the title of the book claims!
I just thought a successful psychologist as himself would actually deliver what he promised. View all 3 comments. Feb 04, Sitaphul rated it did not like it. May 25, Yasmine Abdelhai rated it liked it. The book doesn't not prove a theory or give an understanding of the process of becoming evil. D i was right all along Human beings are not so human after all we are doomed! I read this book years and years ago, and at the time I thought it was amazing.
The Stanford Prison experiment was especially striking; totally changed how I thought about human behaviour. But if anyone thinks the same then I'd encourage you to read the accounts that cast doubt on it. The medium blog: The Lifespan of a Lie And this Twitter thread: Jay Van Bavel. Jul 23, John Wiswell rated it liked it. This is one of those books that exposes ratings as preposterous. Any conscientious person ought to read segments of this book, particularly Zimbardo's early chapters on his infamous Stanley Prison Experiment.
Performed decades ago, it exposed that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were not the implausible acts of monsters, but the likely results of unchecked prison power situations.
Zimbardo hired students to roleplay for two weeks as either guards or prisoners in a mock facility. Within a week he had t This is one of those books that exposes ratings as preposterous. Within a week he had to shut it down because the physical and sexual abuse of the faux-guards and the mental agony of the faux-prisoners had risen to highly illegal levels. Zimbardo recounts having been so moved at the end of the experiment that he wanted to devote the rest of his life to curbing situational factors that cause us to do evil to our fellow human beings, and this book is his giant argument for the cause.
Yet The Lucifer Effect is highly uneven. The guards seemed to grow mildly abusive incredibly quickly — did Zimbardo ever leave out factors as to why? Did he ever embellish stories from his experiment? In documenting the lives of guards from the real Abu Ghraib, some of whom he met, did he crop their personal histories to make them seem more sympathetic?
The Lucifer Effect Understanding How Good People Turn Evil ( ISBN 978 1 4000 6411 3)
This all rightly rests at his feet because he is not sharing science, but an argument about human behavior. He deserves respect for admitting his own biases, where many socially concerned scientists will try to hide them, but those biases are dangerous and invite more skepticism the farther the book strays from things he actually researched.
More than half of the book is speculation or third-hand-at-best analysis building a case for the evils of unthinking obedience or situational factors. He also cites ample historical events, such as African genocides, Rape of Nanking and the Nazi Holocaust, which would have required both significant evil and significant compliance and for which we have firsthand reports documenting both.
For others, it will be a casualty of the struggle between scientific journalism and activism. Many sections left me craving more science, or more rigorous and open definitions of the topics. The handling of Situationalism and Individualism is particularly cloying. Zimbardo opens his book arguing that Situationalism the view that situations influence our behavior is significant or dominant, as opposed to Individualism the view that our choices or brain-makeup influence our behavior.
As the study goes out we find cases like that of Sarge, whose individual history of nigh-homelessness and street life clearly affected the way he behaved in the given situations, and perfectly explained why he deviated from other prisoners in the same situations. This was a case of clear Individualism - not so good for that thesis statement about Situationalism.
Worse, it would suggest something about the more homogenous reactions of more affluent subjects, but a potentially radically different results-set for people of other walks of life. Ultimately this can become like arguing how to pronounce tomato: When arguments reach this level, they are not helpful to expanding our knowledge about behavior or social situations.
Thus the preoccupation with validating Situationalism distracted from the actual evidence, and from a correct holistic view of the results. The greater problem is that, at over six hundred pages, I want more firsthand material than this. The latter half of the book drags miserably with hypotheses about government cover-ups and what might have gone through the minds of guards at Abu Ghraib.
Following a real study with hard data, this post hoc guessing about strangers, even when informed by biographical information, does not illuminate. Zimbardo has historical examples where these obedient passivities cost lives, but he would have been better served to pick only five or ten of them and make his argument concise and deep.
Jun 07, Steven Peterson rated it really liked it. This is an important book.
Torture as second nature
It presents a perspective on the roots of human behavior, let's call it "the situational approach," against other orientations.
As Philip Zimbardo notes, many of us commonly commit the "Fundamental Attribution Error," in which page "dispositions matter more than situations. This book strongly speaks of the value of understanding how situations can shape behavior. The book begins with a detailed description of the famous prison study, conducted by Zimbardo at Stanford University in Here, some students were assigned to play the role of prison guards and others as prisoners.
After a matter of days, the experiment had to be shut down. The guards begin to use their power to oppress prisoners; many prisoners lost their ability to resist and became apathetic. A stunning result, in which adopting certain roles in an experimental situation seemed to make ordinary students into devils prison guards or helpless individuals prisoners.
This book page 5 "is my attempt to understand the process of transformation at work when good or ordinary people do bad or evil things. We will deal with the fundamental question: He contends that many of those involved in improper behavior toward prisoners at the Prison were probably caught up in a situation that influenced them to misbehave, rather than their being wicked to begin with.
In other words, the personal dispositions of many of those caught up in mistreating prisoners was not because they were "bad apples," but because they were apples caught up in a "bad barrel," or system. Zimbardo, at a number of points, argues that it is very easy to write off those who misbehave as bad, rather than having to deal with the far more difficult question of how to create situations or systems or norms that move us toward positive rather than negative behavior.
Key aspects of situations that affect our behavior: He summarizes the various instances of people doing bad things by noting that page He provides a "ten-step program," summarized by a series of aphorisms such as "I made a mistake"; "I am responsible"; "I can oppose unjust systems.
He refers to Arendt's argument about Adolf Eichmann exemplifying "the banality of evil," in which an ordinary person Eichmann commits such stunning evil. Zimbardo argues that we should strive to create "the banality of heroism," where ordinary people can behave in exemplary fashion.
Will readers accept his arguments? Reading comments from other reviewers certainly suggests that his work will not appeal to those who do not believe that structures, systems, and institutions can pervert ordinary people. An individualistic society like the United States makes acceptance of a situational perspective problematic for many.
Whatever one's perspective on such issues, though, Zimbardo's book forces the reader to address fundamental issues of human good and evil, and what the wellsprings of each might be. Jan 06, Jeffrey Howard rated it liked it Shelves: The Lucifer Effect in many ways reads like an introductory social psychology book as Zimbardo trudges through experiments that have become staples for undergraduate psychology courses: Stanley Milgram's obedience experiment, Asch's conformity experiment, and, of course, the Stanford Prison Experiment.
Zimbardo makes a strong case for how bad systems, or "bad barrels" produce "bad apples", that atrocities are committed by regular people, often, because of situational factors.
Evil acts aren't jus The Lucifer Effect in many ways reads like an introductory social psychology book as Zimbardo trudges through experiments that have become staples for undergraduate psychology courses: Evil acts aren't just isolated incidents.
This includes police brutality, child abuse in the catholic church, and war crimes by the American military. It's a shame Zimbardo doesn't turn his critical eye toward the political system as a whole. Each of us is part of bad systems, and once inside of them, any of use are capable of great evils, or what Zimbardo refers to as the "banality of evil.
Nazi concentration camps. Routine police abuse of citizens. Imprisonment and torture of innocent people. Each of us are capable of these things, given the right circumstances--according to Zimbardo. One of the most fascinating threads I found weaved throughout the book was the question of free will.
Zimbardo tries with all his effort to avoid having to address the question. He doesn't want to alienate his readers. He wants to be true to his assumptions, and make his case. Yet, he walks a thin, ambiguous line between free will and determinism.
He comes as close as possible as one can to say we are objects left purely to the whims of genetic, biological, and social factors without saying it.
On the other hand, he frequently states that we should hold individuals responsible for their 'evil acts. I don't necessarily fault him for this, I only wish he would clearly state his assumptions up front. That aside, I found his book to be too tedious, full of excessive quotations and details--especially from the Stanford Prison Experiment. He spent half the book recounting this with obsessive attention. The Lucifer Effect seems more like Zimbardo's effort to clear his name and his work.
He wants the world to know the nuts and bolts of his ground-breaking experiment, to own up to the harm he caused to its participants, and to show the great insights gained from it. He wants to make the case for the Abu Ghraib torturers he defended, for which he feels he weren't fairly heard out--that they were too harshly punished for something most of us would have taken part in, given the circumstances.
This book felt more like a "look at me and my great work" display than a more general presentation implied by the book's title.
I wanted something that covered the wider history, and broad theory behind the subject. I find this book helpful, and full of great observations. It isn't light reading. I would offer up this book as a psychologically-rooted source for my personal criticism of the State, and why political systems continue to produce such bitter, and toxic fruits.
One shouldn't think this book is all darkness and cynicism. Zimbardo writes humanely, and almost warmly about a terrifying matter, ending the book on a positive note.
We are not constrained to our systems, even if we find ourselves inside intoxicating ones. If we want to make a difference in the world we should change the systems, which create our situational factors, which influence--the intellectually honest Zimbardo would use the word cause--our behavioral outcomes. Evil may be banal and common, but so is heroism and goodness. View all 5 comments.
Ever since reading Frankenstein, I have been interested in the concept of evil. How can perfectly ordinary people become perpetrators of such horrible things? What turns a good person evil? In Zimbardo conducted an experiment at Stanford University funded by the U. Navy into the causes of conflict between military guards and prisoners.
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