Many of us, when we read about people committing atrocious acts of evil against other humans, are quick to attribute the actions to a “bad apple” or people who are evil. But, as Professor Philip Zimbardo learned 40 years ago, when you put good people in a bad place, evil can often triumph.
Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the start of Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment. In honor of that occasion, we want to highlight 5 resources we think are important to know about.
- Stanford Prison Experiment – This website offers a slideshow, discussion questions, and other useful resource regarding the original experiment.
- “The Menace Within” profiles several of the people involved, from Zimbardo himself, to “guards” and a “prisoner” involved in the experience and offers insight into how people were affected.
- Understanding Good & Evil – Zimbardo continues to write and speak about how any of us is capable of great heroism, as well as great evil. Check out this post that highlights his amazing TED talk, as well as a couple of important essays.
- The Lucifer Effect is Zimbardo’s book that explores what causes people to engage in evil actions. The website includes a variety of useful resources.
- Heroic Imagination Project – This is a project of Zimbardo’s, which works to help people “overcome the natural human tendency to watch and wait in moments of crisis,” to live with compassion and courage, and to take heroic action in their lives.
We all have the power to make choices that do good or harm, and it’s important to remember that we don’t make those choices in a vacuum. We are influenced by the situations and systems that surround us, and exploring and recognizing those influences are an important and essential part of ensuring that our choices truly reflect our values.
Image courtesy of Suzie Katz via Creative Commons.
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