The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

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The definitive firsthand account of the groundbreaking research of Philip Zimbardo—the basis for the award-winning film The Stanford Prison Experiment

Renowned social psychologist and creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment Philip Zimbardo explores the mechanisms that make good people do bad things, how moral people can be seduced into acting immorally, and what this says about the line separating good from evil.

The Lucifer Effect explains how—and the myriad reasons why—we are all susceptible to the lure of “the dark side.” Drawing on examples from history as well as his own trailblazing research, Zimbardo details how situational forces and group dynamics can work in concert to make monsters out of decent men and women. 

Here, for the first time and in detail, Zimbardo tells the full story of the Stanford Prison Experiment, the landmark study in which a group of college-student volunteers was randomly divided into “guards” and “inmates” and then placed in a mock prison environment. Within a week the study was abandoned, as ordinary college students were transformed into either brutal, sadistic guards or emotionally broken prisoners.

By illuminating the psychological causes behind such disturbing metamorphoses, Zimbardo enables us to better understand a variety of harrowing phenomena, from corporate malfeasance to organized genocide to how once upstanding American soldiers came to abuse and torture Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib. He replaces the long-held notion of the “bad apple” with that of the “bad barrel”—the idea that the social setting and the system contaminate the individual, rather than the other way around.

This is a book that dares to hold a mirror up to mankind, showing us that we might not be who we think we are. While forcing us to reexamine what we are capable of doing when caught up in the crucible of behavioral dynamics, though, Zimbardo also offers hope. We are capable of resisting evil, he argues, and can even teach ourselves to act heroically. Like Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem and Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, The Lucifer Effect is a shocking, engrossing study that will change the way we view human behavior.

Praise for The Lucifer Effect

The Lucifer Effect will change forever the way you think about why we behave the way we do—and, in particular, about the human potential for evil. This is a disturbing book, but one that has never been more necessary.”—Malcolm Gladwell

“An important book . . . All politicians and social commentators . . . should read this.”The Times (London)

“Powerful . . . an extraordinarily valuable addition to the literature of the psychology of violence or ‘evil.’”The American Prospect

“Penetrating . . . Combining a dense but readable and often engrossing exposition of social psychology research with an impassioned moral seriousness, Zimbardo challenges readers to look beyond glib denunciations of evil-doers and ponder our collective responsibility for the world’s ills.”Publishers Weekly

“A sprawling discussion . . . Zimbardo couples a thorough narrative of the Stanford Prison Experiment with an analysis of the social dynamics of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.”Booklist

“Zimbardo bottled evil in a laboratory. The lessons he learned show us our dark nature but also fill us with hope if we heed their counsel. The Lucifer Effect reads like a novel.”—Anthony Pratkanis, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology, University of California
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Your every significant choice -- every important decision you make -- is determined by a force operating deep inside your mind: your perspective on time -- your internal, personal time zone. This is the most influential force in your life, yet you are virtually unaware of it. Once you become aware of your personal time zone, you can begin to see and manage your life in exciting new ways.

In The Time Paradox, Drs. Zimbardo and Boyd draw on thirty years of pioneering research to reveal, for the first time, how your individual time perspective shapes your life and is shaped by the world around you. Further, they demonstrate that your and every other individual's time zones interact to create national cultures, economics, and personal destinies.

You will discover what time zone you live in through Drs. Zimbardo and Boyd's revolutionary tests. Ask yourself:

• Does the smell of fresh-baked cookies bring you back to your childhood?

• Do you believe that nothing will ever change in your world?

• Do you believe that the present encompasses all and the future and past are mere abstractions?

• Do you wear a watch, balance your checkbook, and make to-do lists -- every day?

• Do you believe that life on earth is merely preparation for life after death?

• Do you ruminate over failed relationships?

• Are you the life of every party -- always late, always laughing, and always broke?

These statements are representative of the seven most common ways people relate to time, each of which, in its extreme, creates benefits and pitfalls. The Time Paradox is a practical plan for optimizing your blend of time perspectives so you get the utmost out of every minute in your personal and professional life as well as a fascinating commentary about the power and paradoxes of time in the modern world.

No matter your time perspective, you experience these paradoxes. Only by understanding this new psychological science of time zones will you be able to overcome the mental biases that keep you too attached to the past, too focused on immediate gratification, or unhealthily obsessed with future goals. Time passes no matter what you do -- it's up to you to spend it wisely and enjoy it well. Here's how.
In 2011, Philip Zimbardo gave a TED Talk called “The Demise of Guys,” which has been viewed by over 1.8 million people. A TED eBook short followed that chronicled how in record numbers men are flaming out academically and failing socially and sexually with women. This new book is an expansion of that brief polemic based on Zimbardo’s observations, research, and the survey that was completed by over 20,000 viewers of the original TED Talk.

The premise here is that we are facing a not-so-brave new world; a world in which young men are getting left behind. Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Coulombe say that an addiction to video games and online porn have created a generation of shy, socially awkward, emotionally removed, and risk-adverse young men who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school, and employment. Taking a critical look at a problem that is tearing at families and societies everywhere, Man, Interrupted suggests that our young men are suffering from a new form of “arousal addiction,” and introduce a bold new plan for getting them back on track.

The concluding chapters offer a set of solutions that can be affected by different segments of society including schools, parents, and young men themselves.

Filled with telling anecdotes, results of fascinating research, perceptive analysis, and concrete suggestions for change, Man, Interrupted is a book for our time. It is a book that informs, challenges, and ultimately inspires.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Random House
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Published on
Mar 27, 2007
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Pages
576
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ISBN
9781588365873
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Language
English
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Genres
Psychology / Experimental Psychology
Psychology / Social Psychology
Social Science / Research
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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'this book provides an excellent introduction to contemporary Critical Social Psychology, which anyone exploring the field would do well to read.'

- Psychology in Society

'a very accessible introduction... lively and engaging.... Discussion questions are uncharacteristicaly thought-provoking, while practical exercises also seem better considered than one comes to expect from similar primers, suggesting a successful future as a core text in social psychology courses'

- The Psychologist

'Erudition, sagacity, patience and scholarship radiate from this book. This is an excellent introduction to the various strands of critical thinking to emanate primarily from England, and, to some extent, from continental Europe. Anyone interested in learning more about the discursive side of critical psychology will find in this book an excellent guide. I recommend this book to all psychologists interested in critical perspectives'

- Journal of Community and Applied Psychology

A critical approach depends on a range of often-implicit theories of society, knowledge, as well as the subject. This book shows the crucial role of these theories for directing critique at different parts of society, suggesting alternative ways of doing research, and effecting social change. It includes chapters from the perspectives of social cognition, Marxism, psychoanalysis, discourse and rhetoric, feminism, subjectivity and postmodernism. In each case, the strengths and weaknesses of each perspective are highlighted, the ideas are linked to real world issues by a range of practical exercises, and guidance is given to further reading.These chapters will cover the work of diverse thinkers from within social psychology, such as Billig, Gergen, Kitzinger, Parker, Potter, Shotter, Walkerdine and Wetherell, and from outside, such as Butler, Derrida, Foucault, Haraway, Lyotard, Marx and Rose.

An Introduction to Critical Social Psychology provides a systematic, integrated and accessible introduction to social psychology as a critical discipline. Consequently, it will be key reading for undergraduates and postgraduates studying Critical Social Psychology, and useful additional reading for postgraduates studying theoretical psychology and qualitative methods.

Seminar paper from the year 2004 in the subject Sociology - Methodology and Methods, grade: 1,2, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, language: English, abstract: In the 1970s and '80s, the behavioral researcher and psychologist Prof. Philip Zimbardo tested the effects of extraordinary situations on human subjects. Zimbardo was less concerned with demonstrating the personal situations, developments and psychological case studies of individuals, and rather was searching for universal relationships between external influences and the behavior of the subject. Such influences are to be observed in situations of extreme duress, as illustrated by those in prisons. After World War II there were a multitude of reports from prisoners about their personal experiences, the influences and effects of their respective time in prison. Zimbardo now wanted to observe the effects of prison on a universal level. He thus clearly separated the personal psyche of the individual from the factors that would encroach from the "outside", making them equal to prisoners. The core question Zimbardo was experimenting with was the question of the "good" and "evil" in humans. Would good or evil triumph in individuals who were subjected to extreme stress and were required to resort to violence? What influence does the environment have on this decision? Who is actually responsible for reporting extraordinary violence in prisons? Is it the special characters and individuals gathered within the prison, or must this phenomenon be ascribed to the imposed prison environment?
Winner of the 2008 Outstanding Book Award by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences
Michelle Oberman and Cheryl L. Meyer don’t write for news magazines or prime-time investigative television shows, but the stories they tell hold the same fascination. When Mothers Kill is compelling. In a clear, direct fashion the authors recount what they have learned from interviewing women imprisoned for killing their children. Readers will be shocked and outraged—as much by the violence the women have endured in their own lives as by the violence they engaged in—but they will also be informed and even enlightened.
Oberman and Meyer are leading authorities on their subject. Their 2001 book, Mothers Who Kill Their Children, drew from hundreds of newspaper articles as well as from medical and social science journals to propose a comprehensive typology of maternal filicide. In that same year, driven by a desire to test their typology—and to better understand child-killing women not just as types but as individuals—Oberman and Meyer began interviewing women who had been incarcerated for the crime. After conducting lengthy, face-to-face interviews with forty prison inmates, they returned and selected eight women to speak with at even greater length. This new book begins with these stories, recounted in the matter-of-fact words of the inmates themselves.
There are collective themes that emerge from these individual accounts, including histories of relentless interpersonal violence, troubled relationships with parents (particularly with mothers), twisted notions of romantic love, and deep conflicts about motherhood. These themes structure the books overall narrative, which also includes an insightful examination of the social and institutional systems that have failed these women. Neither the mothers nor the authors offer these stories as excuses for these crimes.
Research on prisons prior to the prison boom of the 1980s and 1990s focused mainly on inmate subcultures, inmate rights, and sociological interpretations of inmate and guard adaptations to their environment, with qualitative studies and ethnographic methods the norm. In recent years, research has expanded considerably to issues related to inmates' mental health, suicide, managing special types of offenders, risk assessment, and evidence-based treatment programs. The Oxford Handbook of Prisons and Imprisonment provides the only single source that bridges social scientific and behavioral perspectives, providing graduate students with a more comprehensive understanding of the topic, academics with a body of knowledge that will more effectively inform their own research, and practitioners with an overview of evidence-based best practices. Across thirty chapters, leading contributors offer new ideas, critical treatments of substantive topics with theoretical and policy implications, and comprehensive literature reviews that reflect cumulative knowledge on what works and what doesn't. The Handbook covers critical topics in the field, some of which include recent trends in imprisonment, prison gangs, inmate victimization, the use and impact of restrictive housing, unique problems faced by women in prison, special offender populations, risk assessment and treatment effectiveness, prisoner re-entry, and privatization. The Oxford Handbook of Prisons and Imprisonment offers a rich source of information on the current state of institutional corrections around the world, on issues facing both inmates and prison staff, and on how those issues may impede or facilitate the various goals of incarceration.
Your every significant choice -- every important decision you make -- is determined by a force operating deep inside your mind: your perspective on time -- your internal, personal time zone. This is the most influential force in your life, yet you are virtually unaware of it. Once you become aware of your personal time zone, you can begin to see and manage your life in exciting new ways.

In The Time Paradox, Drs. Zimbardo and Boyd draw on thirty years of pioneering research to reveal, for the first time, how your individual time perspective shapes your life and is shaped by the world around you. Further, they demonstrate that your and every other individual's time zones interact to create national cultures, economics, and personal destinies.

You will discover what time zone you live in through Drs. Zimbardo and Boyd's revolutionary tests. Ask yourself:

• Does the smell of fresh-baked cookies bring you back to your childhood?

• Do you believe that nothing will ever change in your world?

• Do you believe that the present encompasses all and the future and past are mere abstractions?

• Do you wear a watch, balance your checkbook, and make to-do lists -- every day?

• Do you believe that life on earth is merely preparation for life after death?

• Do you ruminate over failed relationships?

• Are you the life of every party -- always late, always laughing, and always broke?

These statements are representative of the seven most common ways people relate to time, each of which, in its extreme, creates benefits and pitfalls. The Time Paradox is a practical plan for optimizing your blend of time perspectives so you get the utmost out of every minute in your personal and professional life as well as a fascinating commentary about the power and paradoxes of time in the modern world.

No matter your time perspective, you experience these paradoxes. Only by understanding this new psychological science of time zones will you be able to overcome the mental biases that keep you too attached to the past, too focused on immediate gratification, or unhealthily obsessed with future goals. Time passes no matter what you do -- it's up to you to spend it wisely and enjoy it well. Here's how.
Whether we're buying a pair of jeans, ordering a cup of coffee, selecting a long-distance carrier, applying to college, choosing a doctor, or setting up a 401(k), everyday decisions—both big and small—have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented.

As Americans, we assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress. And, in a culture that tells us that there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when your options are limitless, too much choice can lead to clinical depression.

In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choice—the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish—becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice—from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs—has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution. Schwartz also shows how our obsession with choice encourages us to seek that which makes us feel worse.

By synthesizing current research in the social sciences, Schwartz makes the counter intuitive case that eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety, and busyness of our lives. He offers eleven practical steps on how to limit choices to a manageable number, have the discipline to focus on those that are important and ignore the rest, and ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you have to make.

“A philosophical look at the history of our species which alternated between fascinating and frightening . . . like reading Dean Koontz or Stephen King.” —Rocky Mountain News
 
The Lucifer Principle is a revolutionary work that explores the intricate relationships among genetics, human behavior, and culture to put forth the thesis that “evil” is a by-product of nature’s strategies for creation and that it is woven into our most basic biological fabric.
 
In a sweeping narrative that moves lucidly among sophisticated scientific disciplines and covers the entire span of the earth’s—as well as mankind’s—history, Howard Bloom challenges some of our most popular scientific assumptions. Drawing on evidence from studies of the most primitive organisms to those on ants, apes, and humankind, the author makes a persuasive case that it is the group, or “superorganism,” rather than the lone individual that really matters in the evolutionary struggle. But biology is not destiny, and human culture is not always the buffer to our most primitive instincts we would like to think it is. In these complex threads of thought lies the Lucifer Principle, and only through understanding its mandates will we able to avoid the nuclear crusades that await us in the twenty-first century.
 
“A revolutionary vision of the relationship between psychology and history, The Lucifer Principle will have a profound impact on our concepts of human nature. It is astonishing that a book of such importance could be such a pleasure to read.”—Elizabeth F. Loftus, author of Memory
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