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The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil


The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

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    Available in PDF Format | The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.pdf | English
    Philip G. Zimbardo(Author)
What makes good people do bad things? How can moral people be seduced to act immorally? Where is the line separating good from evil, and who is in danger of crossing it?

Renowned social psychologist Philip Zimbardo has the answers, and in The Lucifer Effect he 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.

Zimbardo is perhaps best known as the creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment. Here, for the first time and in detail, he tells the full story of this 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.

"Professor Zimbardo deserves heartfelt thanks for disclosing and illuminating the dark, hidden corners of the human soul. His book does not always make encouraging reading. Still, he confirms that getting to know ourselves is a crucial challenge of human existence."-- Vaclev Havel, former President of the Czech Republic"This book takes us where angels fear to tread, uncovering the 'Lucifer' that sits incubating in each individual and every human institution...The professor's timely study screams out at us to be on the alert, to be ever mindful and ever ready least we fall into this heart of utter darkness." -- Brian Keenan, author of An Evil Cradling"all politicians and social commentators - should read this important book; if enough people absorbed its argument, we might find ourselves in a better polity" -- Sunday Times --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Book details

  • PDF | 551 pages
  • Philip G. Zimbardo(Author)
  • Random House; First Edition edition (13 Mar. 2007)
  • English
  • 4
  • Health, Family & Lifestyle
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Review Text

  • By Judyta Szacillo on 27 January 2013

    It could be an incredibly interesting book had the author been far more concise. The same information, observations and conclusions are repeated over and over again. Nevertheless, the subject of the book is fascinating and worth the effort, because it helps a lot in understanding how human beings work - as individuals and as societies. It also forces you to think more critically about yourself and, at the same time, it makes you aspire to do better. It is a great pity that the narrative is so discouraging.

  • By Georg Strøm on 1 December 2012

    This book provides detailed accounts of the Stanford prison experiments and the abuses committed by US military personnel against prisoners. It is a good book for a student wanting to do a project on one of these. One of the more surprising details is the use of "torture chicks" which shows how far some female military personnel were willing to go, to serve their country. However, the book is printed with small letters, making it difficult for a sustained period, and the analysis is not as good as the accounts. The author has in particular no discussion of personality differences and their impact on whether people behave evil or resist an outside pressure to do so. In other words, he wants mainly to explain what is happening based on situational factors. The author leaves out that people resisting often is the type that in normal situations are considered troublemakers, something that was found among American prisoners of war during the Korean war. He also leaves out the role of selection. The persons commiting evil may appear ordinary, but they may have volunteered or been selected according to criteria that makes them more vulnerable, something that appeared to be the case when personnel were selected to extermination camps in nazi Germany.

  • By Kib on 16 June 2017

    It's interesting, but goes into more depth than I would prefer, so I have found it a hard read.

  • By Guest on 2 February 2017

    I could only read about a couple of chapters of Zimbardo's book; one, yes the text is small and tiring, but two, I was amazed at how similar his approach, style and subject matter is to Jonathan Glover's 'Humanity'. Glover's work tackled the issues of 'evil' by focusing on our use of dehumanisation and use of transferring responsibility to avoid culpability by looking at the Nazi's, Stalin and other war crimes etc. Zimbardo appears to have simply added a section of the abuses at Abu Ghraib to this list. I also find it strange that he made no mention of Glover's work on this subject, although it would have been crucial to any study?

  • By S. Hemraj on 18 July 2017

    I really enjoyed reading this - written in an easy to read format with clear information about the Stanford Prison Experiment distinctly linking this to the Abu Ghraib scandal. Great to read as a standalone for those interested in how institutionalised abuse can occur through many situational factors, but also interesting for those studying psychology with plenty of references for further reading and research.

  • By Mme La Bonne on 29 January 2009

    I was often mystified as to why people behave in such inhumane ways towards each other. Daily reports in the news range from bullying through torture to genocide. Things I think of as unimaginable cruelty are surely the behaviours of maniacs and madmen, right? WRONG!The Lucifer Effect highlights the simple process by which completely healthy, rational people become evil.Zimbardo's experiments show how what we think of as being indefensible becomes not only possible but completely normal. Zimbardo's research describes tendencies in human psychology and reveals the process of how cruelty takes place. If we think that 'We' would never do such things...we are Quite Wrong!The Lucifer Effect describes the process as a gradient; a little inaction here; a little silence there. The process is simple and subtle; all we have to do is collude through silence - say nothing, do nothing, don't rock the boat, ignore our doubts etc.The final chapter talks about Learning to recognise Influences and Resist them. An awareness of how this psychological process takes place is key. If things look, feel or sound bad - Pay Attention - this means things Are Bad. We can learn to pay attention; learn how to put the brakes on and learn how to maintain integrity.

  • By Jess Pagan on 13 July 2017

    A very interesting read on the psychology behind 'evil' people, why people do certain acts. With many theories included, as well as his own famous Stanford Prison Experiment, and simpler daily examples, it's a definitive read on the psychology behind why ordinary people do evil acts.

  • By John Joe on 21 August 2014

    Product Description. I'm returning the paperback version as the print size is way too small. I reckon by the end of 500 pages of such small print I'd need glasses. I hope Rider Books reads this review and takes note. Apologies for 'mis-using' the review platform - I think other buyers should be made aware of the small print size.

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