Journey From the Psychology of Evil to the Psychology of Heroism

Journey From the Psychology of Evil to the Psychology of Heroism


October 9, 2008 lecture by Philip Zimbardo during the 2008 Reunion Homecoming Classes Without Quizzes program. Why do good people turn evil? In what sense are evil and heroism comparable? How could the little old Stanford prison experiment reveal parallels and insights about the abuses by military guards at Abu Ghraib?

Philip Zimbardo, professor of psychology, emeritus, is internationally recognized as a leading “voice and face of contemporary psychology” through his widely seen PBS-TV series, Discovering Psychology, his media appearances, best-selling trade books on shyness, and his classic research, The Stanford Prison Experiment.

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November 11, 2008 / 33 Comments / by / in
  • good stuff

  • Thanks for providing your videos to the public.

  • J

    I watched the entire thing. Great.

  • .
    The question I have is : Since the line between GOOD and EVIL is blurry, how do a wannabe HERO knows whether he is doing GOOD or EVIL??
    I mean 9/11 bombers thought like many that they were heroes. And we should not forget how Martin Luther King was horrendously treated by Racist America. Today he is legend but during his stuggle he was considered the biggest threat to America's peace and stability

  • He's implemented all the principles of 'people accepting abuse' explained in the video ON THE VIDEO ITSELF. People are accepting showing graphic pictures of sodomy and forced fellatio etc to university students is OK. The part where he trashes Rumsfeld is a dead giveaway. That would lull people into thinking 'ok, this guy know who the real bad guys are'

  • "…Bush is crazy, Cheney is crazy, Rumsfeld is crazy…"
    Finally someone says it.

  • that was awesome! i can replace watching tv shows for such educative programming that add matter to life. thanks

  • Harm's justification, evil sees no ugliness. Evil-doers are, in their own and others' eyes, heroes. If you tell those indoctrinated into a good/bad guy framework to act heroically, you incite harm that has turned invisible because the victim is "bad." Owning that heroic actions in one sense are great harm in another requires a journey through cognitive dissonance that can easily undo a human being. People may never come out the other side of that. Yet no other journey on earth is more important.

  • Standing ovation!

  • Free Bradley Manning.

  • This video was so great! Thank you for sharing !!!

  • perhaps lucifer was a female? man created religion, but always look down upon us women.

  • That is a stupid shallow premise that could only come from a woman's self-perceived inferiority in the first place. Women have generally been responsible for their own segregation in history and it was their choice, nature therefore transubstantiated to it. Or shall I direct you to all the Greek ones who instead of conglomerating with their fellow man in public, instead started their own cults! Based on… oh look… RELIGIOUS! concepts of fertility or so-named 'independent temperaments'.

  • We are all heroes, A belief is just a thought you keep thinking! Think it and believe it

  • oh yeah and dont consider anything esoteric… it never really is if youre looking at it

  • Yes indeed. I was thinking the same thing.

  • I found that line ^^

  • Thee's a saying is Spanish: la ocasión hace al ladrón. Mean that a "normal" guy can steal if he knows nobody will notice.

  • Zimbardo for President!

  • I hope we can work stuff out.

  • Did you ever finish that paper? I'm doing one too. 6 pages. I would be grateful to read yours. Thanks.

  • b.f skinner is better

  • sweet nothings,an addiction I can do with out.

  • 240p we meet again. Seriously, I can't read a good bit of words on those slides in Dr. Zimbardo's Powerpoint. 

  • What is the group of people at 30.36, in the bluish photo wearing strange masks?

  • At the end he talks about heroic acts, they are positive, but how about doing small acts of goodness and kindness continuously.  This is better than waiting until 'something big' comes along to get involved with.  Hopefully they are appreciated by the recipients.

  • I understand uncritical conformity to group norms and passive tolerance for evil, but how do we accomplish blind obediance to authority ?

  • Phil speaks the truth and shows us the dark side of our nature! We all have this possibility…regardless of what DICK CHENEY SAYS!

  • German and also some austrian psychologists do evil as defined by Philip Zimbardo, because they are racists, antichristian and pseudoscientists, misusing their position power for destroying families from and in neighbour countries of Germany with the criminal means, the psychologist of the Nazis have used (see e.g. under Hildergard Hetzer). In addition german and also austrian professors for psychology misuse study exchange for fraud with racism for overtaking work and income in the home country of foreign students for their children and their german and austrian students at the cost of the foraign students and their families, as the Nazis did in Poland ant Tschechoslowakia 1939-1945.
    See e.g. the videos
    1) from the GAG Giessener Akademische Gesellschaft 2014 "Die Richter und ihre Denker – Strukturen in Justiz und Gutachterwesen" (An analysis of hundreds of assessements for the family law court brought to the light; 80% of the assessements were wrong and 100% not usable do to invalid methods. Moreover german judges use psychologists and psychistrists who deliver them the in advance expected result of the judge. There is much corruption at the expense of children and parents and in particular foreign children, because the german Jugendamt withdraws them from foreign single mothers with criminal means.)
    2) Uwe Kirchhoff – Raus aus der Schmuddelecke von Jugendamt und Familienjustiz 2015
    3) Charlotte Iserbyt – Skull & Bones the order at Yale (the origin of a psychology inspired by freemasons and Bavarian Illumanti = Lucifer worshiper)
    They should be forbidden worldwide until their psychology is completely revised and free of racism, occultism, unscientific methods and antichristian thoughts and behavior. The fools are not christians but antichristian psychologist who destroy foreign families for overtaking their children for german childrens homes and foster families, by which the german custody industry is financed. That's the perversion of psychology as the Nazis did it.

  • Only the situation as cause of racism and atrocities against others?
    That's hard to believe, because human beings have a soul and know whats right and wrong, and usually the major religions of the world know also the 10 commandments of the bible. Even Buddhism has similar 10 commandments.
    Therefore I guess, that a further factor is not only lack of connectedness and empathy, but also a lack of moral values, because they forbid the dehumanization of others and atrocities against others.
    That's also my critique at the Stanford Prison Experimens as a christian.

  • Thank you very much for this very great and important lecture.
    Educating heroism is a very good idea.
    1) But it is very important to connect it with a moral commitment to other people. Why?
    Because heroism can also derail to self-centered narcissim, if there is a lack in the development of moral values and social behavior. See e.g. the research from Bernard Bass and Bruce Avolio about self-centered charismatic leaders like the dictators Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini etc. as opposed to socialized charismatic leaders like Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, which manifests in differences in values, moral / virtues, focus (self-centered / others-centered),speech and and social behavior.
    2) It is very important to bring the evil to the light for stopping it. See Bible Ephesian 4 "The evil brig to the light."
    The therapeut Jürgen Müller Hohagen, who works at Dachau near Munich since decades with cvitims of the Nazis and ancient Nazis, found that not only the vicitms of nationalsocialism were traumatized, but also the perpetrators, and this trauma is transmitted to the 3rd ad 4th generations. Typical for the behavior on the side of perpetrators is to deny others their rights and the delegation for the own cruelty and pittylessness to the state as the super-parent (-> Freud). Therefore the exit from this viscious circle is to overtake responsibility for the own cruelty instead of delegating it to the state and to refuse the responsibility, like the Nazis did it in the Nürnberg trials against war criminals in 1946 and later. See Jürgen Müller-Hohag en 2005: Verleugnet, verdrängt, verschwiegen. Seeleische Nachwehen des Nationalsozialismus und Wege ihrer Überwindung.
    This results are not in consistent with the statement, that the reason for atrocities against other lies only in the situation and context. The cited hero of Abu Graib shows, that he had a conscience, who remembered him, that such atrocities are not OK.
    People act in a heroic way because of their values acquired through education and socialisation, but mainly, because they have a living god upon them, who remembers them by his holy spirit to act in this and that way.
    And I doubt that the in the United States widely worshiped Lucifer will work in that way, because according the Bible Lucifer is the highest of the fallen angels, who alsways wanted to be god, but who is not god, but the biggest deceiver. It is relatively easy to differentiate the spirits, because a good tree brings good fruits, but a bad tree bears bad fruits.
    3) Reserch on victims of the second world war (holocaust, escape, losses) have found that mothers who have experienced as a child the atrocities of the second world war were traumatized and differ from other mothers with no comforting body contact to their children (cold mothers), lack of communication and impeding their children to become heroes for humanity, and that trauatized parents pass the trauma to the next generation.
    Epigenetics has found that traumatized children of mices are less explorative than others and that they remain more anxious and less explorative as adults.
    4) With regard to actually 60 millions of refugees on earth due to wars and losses, the US should change its foreign policy, stop its war machinery and greed on oil and a world empire, stop destabilizing Europe with refugees from regions in north Africa and the Middle East, were the US, 40 allies and the NATO have destabilized these countries with wars, delivery of weapons to rebels and removal of their leaders, causing chaos and stampede! The US must stop its own greed and megalomania. Because ruthless american imperialism in small european countries like Switzerland by greedy american academics makes also there single mothers like me workless, despite full studies with best notes, because we finance them ourselves with work. But when greedy Americans and also the always aggressive expansive germans come and steal us work and income with their big networks of old professionals, we have no income, cannot finance the end of the studies and become workless. And this causes much hate against Americans annd Germans.
    5) Americans should remember the statue in the dream of the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9 Old Testament of the Holy Bible), which represents the empires during human history. The two legs of iron represent the roman empire with Rome and Constantinople. And the two feets represent the again risen roman empire. These are of iron and clay and therfore cannot merge! Whatever the US and the UN will do. Even with a dictated NWO they cannot merge! nd therefore the already mentionned NWO of the antichrist will last only 3,5 years. See yourself in the Revelations at the end of the Holy Bible.
    And under a spiritual aspect I think: An NWO under the spirit of Luzifer cannnot merge with the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus.
    See the video
    a) United Nations total onslaught – Prof. Walter Veith
    b) 10 satanic commandments from the United Nations brought by Luci(fer)s Trust.
    This makes clear why this empire will last only 3,5 years and is the worst humanity has ever seen
    6) Scientific work and believe in god and Jesus is not a contradiction.
    The mathematician Prof. Peter W Stoner has proven, that the probability that the alraedy fullfillef 3268 prophecies of the bilbe are based an pure coincidence, is incredibly high.
    See yourself the videos:
    a) The professor and the prophets (Peter W Stoner)
    b) Ameise im Quadrat – Glaubwürdigkeit der Bible (german version, a short trick film)

  • sam

    Does Zimbardo make a deal with the devil in defending Chip Frederick, especially after
    what he implies later in the video about free will and heroism?

  • I only saw rhe demons the whole time

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