The psychology of evil | Philip Zimbardo

The psychology of evil | Philip Zimbardo Philip Zimbardo knows how easy it is for nice people to turn bad. In this talk, he shares insights and graphic unseen photos from the Abu Ghraib trials. Then he talks about the flip side: how easy it is to be a hero, and how we can rise to the challenge.

Follow us on Twitter

Checkout our Facebook page for TED exclusives


September 23, 2008 / 32 Comments / by / in
  • fail for very sneakily equating drugs with evil.

  • @thodal2000 can you give me the time in the video?

  • The part where he describes his friends in a Dr. Jekyll /Mr. Hyde scenario and proceeds to relate their drug use as evidence of Jekyll/Hyde.

  • @qttytn The part where he describes his friends in a Dr. Jekyll /Mr. Hyde scenario and proceeds to relate their drug use as evidence of Jekyll/Hyde.

  • @thodal2000 My interpretation is that he was tying in drugs as a symptom of greater social problems in that community, rather than demonising the act of drug use itself

  • I can't stop seeing the demons…
    I can't see the angels

  • Power is the key word here. When I researched this atrocity, I found out that England was being abused by her boyfriend. Putting people into a situation like this is going to end badly, because of a thirst for power.

  • RED

    @studiousx3 Yeah all those people in the Milgram experiments must have been atheists, My Lai massacre too. Thats because if you are religious and you commit evil you can't be a "real" Christian right? By the way Hitler was a Catholic but followed Martin Luthers Antisemetic teachings. Read Mein Kampf if you don't believe me. Atheists are a quick and easy scapegoat. Sorry but a non belief in a sky daddy changes nothing, Morality- you either have it- or you don't.

  • The statistical rise in “evil” acts when anonymity is introduced is very interesting to me. During the protests of the G20 in Pittsburgh, most of the police were not wearing name tags or badges. Many of them were wearing helmets which covered their faces. There are many YouTube videos of those police beating and abusing innocent protesters.

  • this is super important. I would love to talk negatively after this and talk about all the "righteous people" and "normal people" to blame. But I will go only this far. If any of you want things different, you have to, like Zimbardo said, not be afraid to act out.
    That takes time to learn. Our human instinct is to not stick out, follow what everyone is doing. Evil spreads that way. It's ok if it doesn't work out at first… learn, and break the cycle. I hope everyone can do that.

  • Know what makes his stomach big and round like that? Swallowing watermelon seeds.

  • I think he should stop using the term "evil" to describe violent or cruel acts. People often equate the term "evil" with a malevolent, invisible force ~ other than a decision. It might misinform.

  • LOL. Ding! Ding! Ding!

  • he married her the next year hahahahahahahahahahahaha

  • HEH

    Everyone needs to see this. Very well presented. Its funny because I just had a hour debate with my sis about this very topic. To say the least she falls into the "passive" state.

  • TED… I have to sleep…

  • When I saw the picture at 1:23 I immediately saw the world of demons, and even after he mentioned there were angels, I had trouble noticing them… I hope this isn't a sign of any underlying psychological issues.

  • Gangstalkers = COINTELPRO perps = US prison abusers = real subjects of Milgram (obedience) experiment
    世界一 病んだ変態 ナチスアメリカ

  • He doesn't look 75

  • and i married her the next year hahaha!

  • man he brings up great points

  • evil can also be defined as the absence of good

  • I don't believe in good or evil is just people perception of whats what. I bought Philips book great book but i still don't believe in good nor evil its still on peoles perception

  • @inhisgrace007 Amen to that.

  • Often.

  • I meant it often happens from my experience as a follower of Christ is people become Christian because they did bad things and after becoming Christians they look for every opportunity to help others and sacrifice their time an self

  • @MrRageQuitter Power your talking about is that power of conformity, to be clear following orders. Hitler was a powerful influence this shows humankinds weakness to be swayed by such a weak person. Another example of power of influence in Obama i never believed his speeches are nothing but hot hair i told everyone i did not trust him people called me evil no look at them now. This why good and evil are so unimportant to put stock in

  • Wonder what this guy's take on sociopaths is? And yes, they are born with the frontal lobe defect that makes them "evil".

  • zimbardo unraveled the psychology of morality – thank you

  • M.C: Escher was dutch, not swiss.

  • That guy's breathing is killing me. I'm going to need him to take care of himself 🙁 Brilliant work though.

  • He managed to fit a semester's worth of material in to 23 minutes. Crazy. Loved his passion. He touched on so many good points. Excellent speech!

%d bloggers like this: