The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil
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The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

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Renowned social psychologist and creator of the "Stanford Prison Experiment," Philip Zimbardo explores the mechanisms that make good people do bad things, how moral people can be seduced into acting immorally, and what this says about the line separating good from evil.

The Lucifer Effect 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.

Here, for the first time and in detail, Zimbardo tells the full story of the Stanford Prison Experiment, the 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.

Title:The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil
Edition Language:English
ISBN:1400064112
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:551 pages

    The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil Reviews

  • Rebecca
    Aug 05, 2008

    Philip Zimbardo’s The Lucifer Effect is a difficult read, not because its premise is particularly startling, but because its examination of the psychology of evil shows it to be disturbingly simple....

  • Katie
    Nov 15, 2007

    I was excited to read this, since I have a psychology background and had heard that it was a good look at the Stanford Prison Experiment, which I studied in college. I wasn't too impressed with this b...

  • Amanda
    Apr 02, 2008

    I, after a couple of weeks, have finally finished “The Lucifer Effect.” I normally don’t dog ear books because, well, that’s almost sacrilegious, but there were points that I knew I wanted to ...

  • David
    Dec 04, 2007

    Well, I need to state my prejudices upfront. I'm kind of a secret fan of Doctor Zimbardo. See, I guess at some point he put together some kind of massive 26-episode series of half-hour lectures on how...

  • Eden Prosper
    Jul 13, 2011

    Philip Zimbardo’s The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil was a stimulating read. A lot of psychology books tend to be a bit dry or scientifically wordy, becoming tedious and sto...

  • George Hu
    Dec 16, 2007

    Well, interesting title and interesting subject, but I highly doubt his hypothesis. This book was borne out of Philip Zimbardo's work with a U.S. army soldier, who was one of the prison guards at Abu ...

  • Thomas Edmund
    Oct 28, 2016

    As a huge psych nerd I was really happy to stumble across this book in the local library. For those who don't know and/or have forgotten psyc101 Zimbardo is the professor behind the infamous Stanford ...

  • Nikki
    Aug 18, 2015

    This is a horribly difficult book to read, not because Zimbardo’s writing is bad or the subject is uninteresting, but because it exposes how easily people can be manipulated into a role — and I do...

  • K
    Jul 19, 2012

    Be forewarned -- this is not a relaxing book on any level.Having said that, it's pretty fantastic. How good people turn evil is a huge question, more ambitious than most authors would undertake and pr...

  • Kq
    Oct 10, 2013

    This book should be called "The Stanford Prison Experiment and Other Things Regarding How Good People Turn Evil". The first 200 or so pages are about The Stanford Prison Experiment (1971 study involvi...

About Philip G. Zimbardo

Philip G. Zimbardo

Dr. Philip George Zimbardo is an American psychologist and a professor emeritus at Stanford University. He is president of the Heroic Imagination Project. He is known for his Stanford prison study, and authorship of various introductory psychology books and textbooks for college students, including The Lucifer Effect and The Time Paradox.