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Winner, the William James Book Award of the Society for General Psychology (Division 1 of the American Psychological Association)
Selected for Common Reading at Montana State University
In THE LUCIFER EFFECT, renowned 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 trailblazing research, Zimbardo details how situational forces and group dynamics can work in concert to make monsters out of decent men and women.
Zimbardo is perhaps best known as the creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment. Here, for the first time and in detail, he tells the full story of this 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.
Like Hannah Arendt’s EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM and Steven Pinker’s THE BLANK SLATE, THE LUCIFER EFFECT is a shocking, engrossing study that will change the way we view human behavior.
Praise for THE LUCIFER EFFECT:
“Informed by social science, history, intelligence, experience, and self-examination, Phil Zimbardo’s engaging and beautifully written tour de force uncovers the sources of evil--big and small. THE LUCIFER EFFECT accomplishes more than simply making the darkness visible; it also helps to make lightness possible. It is crucial reading for everyone.”
--Professor Jon D. Hanson, Harvard University Law School