Evil In Philip Zimbardo's The Psychology Of Evil

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Philip Zimbardo’s TEDTalk “The Psychology of Evil” discusses the line that separates good from evil, and how any human, placed under the right circumstances, can be swayed to either side of that line. Zimbardo begins his talk by discussing the century old question “What makes people go wrong?”. While some people may argue that humans are born either intrinsically good or evil, Zimbardo refutes this claim stating how, as a young boy growing up in the Bronx, he personally witnessed many of his friends cross the line from good to evil. Zimbardo calls this phenomenon the “Lucifer Effect” after the biblical story of the fallen angel Lucifer, once God’s favorite angel who falls from grace to eventually become Satan, epitome of all evil. Zimbardo’s …show more content…
The study consisted of a group of male college students. The group was randomly divided, some men designated as guards and others as prisoners. In the experiment, real arrests and prison conditions were simulated. “Prisoners” were confined to cells. They wore degrading prison uniforms. “Guards” were given special uniforms as well, and given ambiguous instructions about how to treat the prisoners. Clearly, the participants of the study were regular college students. They were not evil or sadistic people. Despite being normal people, when given unrestricted power over others, and put in a caustic group environment, good men turned evil. It did not take long for the guards to begin abusing the prisoners. They began tormenting the prisoners, subjecting them to humiliating tasks, as well as verbal and physical punishments. The abuse quickly became so severe that Zimbardo prematurely terminated the study after only six days. The Stanford Prison experiment exemplifies how, given unrestrained power and with the group dynamics of groupthink and group polarization at play, good men can be lead to commit evil actions very

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