Good and Evil

Phillip Zimbardo has just published a book called the Lucifer Effect. In this book he investigates the concept of evil from a psychological perspective. He argues that people are not born evil but the situation that people find themselves in can lead good people to act in evil ways. This is the situationalist approach.

The link below will take you to a lecture by Zimbardo at MIT. In this lecture he discusses the research of Milgram and what it tells us about how ordinary people made the holocaust possible. He also discusses the Stanford Prison experiment and explains how this experiment can help us to understand the behaviour of ordinary American soldiers in the prisons of Iraq. He outlines some interesting experiments that have investigated the role that deindividuation plays in leading to evil behaviour. My favourite is his discussion of Sheridan and King's (1972) electroshock experiment using a puppy. You even get to see the puppy.

Link to Zimbardo lecture

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