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The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (2007)

by Philip Zimbardo

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,820277,976 (3.94)30
What makes good people do bad things? Where is the line separating good from evil, and who is in danger of crossing it? Social psychologist Philip Zimbardo 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 research, Zimbardo details how situational forces and group dynamics can work in concert to make monsters out of decent people. By illuminating the psychological causes behind such disturbing metamorphoses, Zimbardo enables us to better understand a variety of phenomena, from corporate malfeasance to organized genocide. 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. Yet we are capable of resisting evil, he argues, and can even teach ourselves to act heroically.--From publisher description.Includes information on Abu Ghraib Prison, Achilles as archetypal war hero, administrative evil, Afghanistan, anonymity, Army Reserve Military Police (MPs), Britain, Bush administration, bystander intervention, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Dick Cheney, conformity, corporations, U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), dehumanization, deindividuation, doctors, Lynndie England, evil, Ivan (Chip) Frederick, II, genocide, good, Charles Graner, Guantanamo Bay Prison, heroism, Adolf Hitler, Holocaust, human nature, Saddam Hussein, identity, inaction as force for evil, International Committee of the Red Cross, Iraq, Iraq War, Katrina hurricane disaster as crisis of inaction, persuasive uses of language, Lord of the Flies (Golding), lynchings, Military Intelligence (MI), moral disengagement, My Lai massacre, national security, U.S. Navy, Nazis, New York City, 1984 (Orwell), obedience to authority, otherness, Pentagon, Peopleʾs Temple cult, personal responsibility, power systems, prejudice, prisons, rape, role playing, rules, Donald Rumsfeld, situational forces, sleep deprivation, social approval, social influence, social psychology, Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) http://www.prisonexperiment.org, Taguba Report, torture, transformation of character, Vietnam War, violence, war, war on terror, whistle-blowers, women, World War II, etc.… (more)
Recently added byhauffmann, SpareOom, prasta, eduardo_roville, oblivius, private library, XochiltVazquez, ejmw, hjeffs
  1. 20
    Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram (PickledOnion42)
    PickledOnion42: Two of the most famous experiments in social psychology – Milgram's Obedience Experiement and Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment – both cast light on the negative aspect of human behaviour from two different perspectives. Taken together these two works show how human atrocities can happen anywhere.… (more)
  2. 20
    War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges (bertilak)
  3. 00
    Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman (peter_vandenbrande)
    peter_vandenbrande: Het onderzoek van Zimbardo blijkt zoveel jaren later niet helemaal eerlijk te zijn uitgevoerd en ook de conclusies blijken achterhaald. Dat heeft Rutger Bregman toch besloten op basis van zijn opzoekwerk.
  4. 00
    One of the Guys: Women as Aggressors and Torturers by Tara McKelvey (TheLittlePhrase)
  5. 00
    The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker (PickledOnion42)
  6. 00
    Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing by James Waller (bertilak)
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English (26)  Dutch (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
p. 52
  kristiederuiter | May 14, 2022 |
Well, I bought this book when it was just out, so it was this huge hardback. I got to like halfway (because it was really interesting) and then it got left for many years. Because it was too heavy to carry around. Once I got kindle I finally bought a kindle version and now I've read it!

I first got interested in Stanford Prison Experiment when I was about 10 and was devouring Reader's Digest. There was a story about the experiment and it fascinated me. I think this was about the first time I realized people are usually not good or evil. As in, it's not black and white. So, when I heard Zimbardo's interview about the book on Skepticality podcast, I knew I needed to read this book. And it was so interesting. I would've given 5 stars for the subject matter, but I think the writing was a bit long-winded, so that's the reason I came down to 4. But I think Zimbardo really challenges you to think about who you are and what you would do in that situation. And if you think you know, think again. ( )
  RankkaApina | Feb 22, 2021 |
I read about the infamous prison experiment many times but never in such detail - half of the book is a step by step first hand account. Further into the book it also includes other experiments to support its thesis of the extent of systems' shaping people's behaviour being far stronger than anyone anticipates.

I tend to agree but I think the prison experiment itself is of dubious merit. Aside from many technical failures, if anything it shows how far a group of youngsters will go to earn some money. If you compare it to the Milgram obedience experiment (which the book cites extensively as well) it's not even in the same category of validity - there's no analogy absurd enough to illustrate that.

The rest of the book is Zimbardo getting political urging jailtime for generals and politicians for creating these systems. I think it's fair although his zeal is disturbing, clearly not a fan of the American government. He is a fan of mother Theresa though which makes me question his moral judgements.

One interesting thing I didn't know about the prison experiment was that he only called an end to it because he wanted to sleep with the attractive young woman who showed disapproval for what he was doing. Well, that puts an unexpected spin on it. Love is the key to saving our humanity? ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 23, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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I wish I could say that writing this book was a labor of love; it was not that for a single moment of the two years it took to complete.
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What makes good people do bad things? Where is the line separating good from evil, and who is in danger of crossing it? Social psychologist Philip Zimbardo 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 research, Zimbardo details how situational forces and group dynamics can work in concert to make monsters out of decent people. By illuminating the psychological causes behind such disturbing metamorphoses, Zimbardo enables us to better understand a variety of phenomena, from corporate malfeasance to organized genocide. 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. Yet we are capable of resisting evil, he argues, and can even teach ourselves to act heroically.--From publisher description.Includes information on Abu Ghraib Prison, Achilles as archetypal war hero, administrative evil, Afghanistan, anonymity, Army Reserve Military Police (MPs), Britain, Bush administration, bystander intervention, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Dick Cheney, conformity, corporations, U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), dehumanization, deindividuation, doctors, Lynndie England, evil, Ivan (Chip) Frederick, II, genocide, good, Charles Graner, Guantanamo Bay Prison, heroism, Adolf Hitler, Holocaust, human nature, Saddam Hussein, identity, inaction as force for evil, International Committee of the Red Cross, Iraq, Iraq War, Katrina hurricane disaster as crisis of inaction, persuasive uses of language, Lord of the Flies (Golding), lynchings, Military Intelligence (MI), moral disengagement, My Lai massacre, national security, U.S. Navy, Nazis, New York City, 1984 (Orwell), obedience to authority, otherness, Pentagon, Peopleʾs Temple cult, personal responsibility, power systems, prejudice, prisons, rape, role playing, rules, Donald Rumsfeld, situational forces, sleep deprivation, social approval, social influence, social psychology, Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) http://www.prisonexperiment.org, Taguba Report, torture, transformation of character, Vietnam War, violence, war, war on terror, whistle-blowers, women, World War II, etc.

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