June 12, 2008 Around the Web

The Psychology of Evil: The Lucifer Effect in Action

Prof. Philip Zimbardo, the conductor of the infamous 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, has become a leading authority on the psychology of evil.

Featuring the author, Philip Zimbardo, Stanford University, with comments by Julian Sanchez, Reason, and Will Wilkinson, Cato Institute.

Prof. Philip Zimbardo, the conductor of the infamous 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, has become a leading authority on the psychology of evil: How is it that people are induced to commit evil, even when they consider themselves “good” people? What social dynamics encourage—or discourage—cruelty toward other human beings? The Lucifer Effect offers a full reconstruction of the 1971 experiment based on archival video, subject diaries, exit interviews, and other contemporary material. It then gives an introduction to the psychology of social morality as it has developed over the years. The book culminates with an examination of the prisoner abuse scandals of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere, challenging accounts that would hold individual soldiers solely responsible for their actions, and indicting the chain of command for knowingly creating conditions that would lead to degrading treatment and torture.