- Philip Zimbardo: biography of this social psychologist
- The Stanford prison experiment
- Results and repercussions
- Some criticisms
- Later works: psychology of heroism
- Outstanding works
- Bibliographic references:
- The psychology of evil | Philip Zimbardo (November 2021)
- Philip Zimbardo
- Professional Life
- Contribution to Psychology
- Selected works by Philip Zimbardo
- The Stanford Prison Experiment
- Results and impacts
- Some reviews
Philip Zimbardo: biography of this social psychologist
Philip Zimbardo (1933-) is one of the most popular social psychologists today.
He is recognized for his theories related to the situational attribution of behavior, prosocial behaviors, the relationship between obedience and authority, among others.
Especially it is recognized by the classic and controversial experiment of the Stanford Prison, made in the decade of the 70's in the vicinity of Stanford University.
Next we will see a biography of Philip Zimbardo , as well as a brief description of the experiment that led him to be recognized internationally as one of the most representative social psychologists of the 20th century.
- Related article: «History of Psychology: authors and main theories»
Philip Zimbardo was born on March 23, 1933 in New York City, in the bosom of a Sicilian family based in the Bronx neighborhood. In the year of 1954, Zimbardo he specialized with a triple degree of psychologist, sociologist and anthropologist from Brooklyn College .
Subsequently, he did postgraduate studies in social psychology and finally obtained a doctorate in the same area from Yale University.
In the latter he taught, and did the same at the University of New York and Columbia University.
He was also president of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 2002, and has been awarded numerous awards that recognize his research as one of the most important contributions to psychology.
He is currently professor emeritus at Stanford University , where he served as a teacher for 50 years, and also serves as a teacher at the University of Palo Alto in California.
The Stanford prison experiment
In the year of 1971, Philip Zimbardo, together with other researchers, conducted an experiment that led him to be recognized as one of the most representative social psychologists of the time.
It is an experiment of the Stanford prison, which had the objective of studying the influence of the social environment on the character and actions of a person. Through this experiment I wanted to demonstrate how social situations have the power to significantly influence individual behavior .
In a very broad way, the experiment consisted in simulating a prison in the facilities of Stanford University, establishing different roles for each of the 24 men who participated.
Randomly they were divided into two groups: some were guards, while others were prisoners . All of them were university students and had been previously evaluated to determine a good state of physical and psychological health.
- Maybe you're interested: «The Stanford Prison Experiment by Philip Zimbardo»
Results and repercussions
In exchange for their participation they were offered an economic remuneration and, at the beginning, they were asked to wear specific uniforms in accordance with their role.
The prisoners were taken to the prison simulating a detention. While there they were assigned a number and a space.
On the other hand, the guards were prohibited from exercising physical violence , at the time they were asked to direct the prison as they saw fit.
Although the experiment was designed to last several weeks, it had to be suspended before the first one ended, because each of the participants had assumed his role in such a way that serious dynamics of violence were being generated .
With this experiment it was concluded, among many other things, that it is the situation that generates both violent behavior and submission to authority. In addition, for the results that were released once finalized, Zimbardo was called to testify as an expert witness in the trials of the humiliations that occurred in the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib.
Due to the conditions in which this experiment was designed and carried out, Zimbardo and his collaborators have received numerous criticisms. The most widespread is the ethical questioning about the tendency of a large part of scientific research to generate severe situations of stress in the participants, with such a hypothesis check .
On the other hand, the possibility of generalizing their findings has been questioned, due to the homogeneity of the sample they used.
In the same sense, the presence of gender biases has been questioned (for example, only men participated, including the researchers themselves), as well as part of considering theories about prosocial behaviors that tend to be measured male behavioral models. .
Later works: psychology of heroism
Currently, Philip Zimbardo continues to develop studies on prosocial behavior , more specifically in critical circumstances, and in relation to what he has called «heroism».
He is founder and president of the Project of Heroic Imagination (Heroic Imagination Project), where the «Psychology of heroism» and the training of «heroic behaviors» have been worked on in an important way.
Among the most outstanding works of Philip Zimbardo are The Lucifer Effect: Understanding how good people turn bad, where analyzes the parallels between the Stanford prison experiment and the mistreatment of the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib . Other of his important works are Psychology and life, Y The paradox of time.
- American Psychological Association (2018). Philip G. Zimbardo. Retrieved August 30, 2018. Available at //www.apa.org/about/governance/president/bio-philip-zimbardo.aspx.
- García Dauder, S. and Pérez Sedeño, E. (2018). The scientific 'lies' about women. Waterfall: Madrid.
- Stanford Prison Experiment (2018). The Stanford Prison Experiment: a simulation study on the psychology of the imprisonment. Retrieved August 30, 2018. Available at //www.prisonexp.org.
- Heroic Imagination Project (2017). Our Mission Retrieved August 30, 2018. Available at //www.heroicimagination.org.
- Networks-The slippery slope of evil (2010). Networks for science. Retrieved August 30, 2018. Available at //www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/redes/redes-pendiente-resbaladiza-maldad/736047/.
- Biographical Sketch (2000) Philip G. Zimbardo. Retrieved August 30, 2018. Available at //www.zimbardo.com/votezim/bio.html.
- Eagly, A. and Crowley, M (1986). Gender and helping behavior: a meta-analysis review of the social psychological literature. Psychological Bulletin, 100 (3): 283-308.
The psychology of evil | Philip Zimbardo (November 2021)
Philip Zimbardo is a contemporary social psychologist best known for his Stanford Prison Study.
Philip Zimbardo was born on March 23, 1933, in New York City. He studied at Brooklyn College and graduated in 1954 with majors in sociology, anthropology, and psychology.
Zimbardo attended graduate school at Yale University, where he completed his PhD in psychology in 1959. Zimbardo spent one year teaching at Yale and seven years as an associate professor at New York University.
In 1968, Zimbardo accepted a job at Stanford University as a professor of psychology.
Zimbardo developed The Stanford Shyness Clinic in 1977 to help people overcome shyness in social settings.
When the clinic moved off the Stanford campus, it was renamed The Shyness Clinic; Zimbardo continues to serve there as a research consultant.
Zimbardo spent decades studying and researching cult behavior and mind control, and he testified to the power of situational pressure and the events at the Abu Ghraib prison.
Zimbardo served as President of the American Psychological Association in 2002, and he has been professor emeritus at Stanford since 2003.
He works with the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and is the founder and director of the Heroic Imagination Project, an organization designed to recognize and advance everyday heroism.
His popular PBS series, Discovering Psychology, teaches basic psychological principles and theories to a lay audience.
Contribution to Psychology
Zimbardo has spent most of his career researching how and why people are transformed in certain situations so that they behave in unexpected ways, such as when a good person commits an atrocious act, or an intelligent person does something irrational. Zimbardo has also researched shyness, motivation, and human perspectives on time.
Zimbardo designed the Stanford Prison Experiment to determine what the result would be when one group was granted authority over another group. In the 1971 study, Zimbardo assigned 24 college students with the roles of guards or prisoners in a mock prison on the Stanford grounds.
Though the study was scheduled to last two weeks, over the course of six days, the prisoners developed unique behaviors that mimicked those of real prisoners, including rioting, rebellion, and even depression and rage.
The prison guards, who were given clear instructions as to which tactics they were allowed to use, quickly began exceeding the limitations of punishment and degradation.
The observing psychologists noticed that many of the prison guards used sadistic and even torturous behaviors to gain control over the prisoners, even when unwarranted. The prisoners believed that they were real prisoners, and several were severely emotionally traumatized. The experiment was terminated early as a result.
The ethics of the study are still widely debated today.
Many researchers point to the study as evidence of the effects of incarceration, as an indication of the negative effects absolute control can have on a person's conscience, or as an explanation of groupthink and cult behavior.
Zimbardo expanded on the results of the experiment, drawing parallels to Abu Ghraib prison conditions in his 2007 book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.
The Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI) was designed by Zimbardo to measure a person’s perspective on the past, present, and future.
The ZTPI test measures five attitudes toward time: past-negative, past-positive, present-fatalistic, present-hedonistic, and future. Zimbardo outlined his theories in The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life.
Zimbardo believes that our lives are shaped by our perspective of time and that a series of paradoxes influence both personal and cultural behavior:
- Paradox 1. People are typically unaware of the powerful effect time has on their feelings, thoughts, and actions.
- Paradox 2. A person’s attitudes toward time can be beneficial, unless any one attitude persists over others.
- Paradox 3. A person’s time perspective is shaped by personal experience, though these attitudes also form a collective, cultural perspective that shapes a nation.
Recently, Zimbardo began developing the concept of social intensity syndrome, with colleagues Sarah Brunskill and Anthony Ferreras. The theory is designed to explain the culture of the military. Zimbardo and his colleagues claim that the intense environment of the military can lead to hypermasculinized behavior that causes an extreme endorphin high.
Selected works by Philip Zimbardo
- The Cognitive Control of Motivation (1969)
- Influencing Attitudes and Changing Behavior (with E. Ebbesen, 1969)
- Shyness: What It Is, What To Do About It (1977)
- The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (2007)
- The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life (with J. Boyd, 2008)
- The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do about It (2012)
- Maslach, C. (2000, Sep). Emperor of the edge. Psychology Today, 33, 34-41. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/214511426?accountid=1229
- Philip G. Zimbardo. (2008). Contemporary Authors Online. Retrieved from http://www.gale.cengage.com/InContext/bio.htm
Last Update: 07-22-2015
The Stanford Prison Experiment
In 1971, Philip Zimbardo, along with other researchers, conducted an experiment that led him to be recognized as one of the most representative social psychologists of the time.
This is an experiment at Stanford Prison, which aimed to study the influence of the social environment on a person’s character and actions. Through this experiment I wanted to demonstrate how social situations have the power to significantly influence individual behaviour .
In very broad terms, the experiment consisted of simulating a prison on the premises of Stanford University, establishing different roles for each of the 24 men who participated.
Randomly they were divided into two groups: some were guards, while others were prisoners . All of them were university students and had been previously evaluated for good physical and psychological health.
Results and impacts
In exchange for their participation, they were offered financial remuneration and, at the beginning, were asked to wear specific uniforms according to their role.
The prisoners were taken to the prison simulating an arrest as well. While there, they were assigned a number and a space.
The guards were forbidden to use physical violence and were asked to run the prison as they saw fit.
Although the experiment was designed to last several weeks, it had to be suspended before the end of the first week, because each of the participants had assumed their role in such a way that serious dynamics of violence were being generated .
This experiment concluded, among many other things, that it is the situation that generates both violent and submissive behavior. Furthermore, because of the results that were revealed after the experiment was completed, Zimbardo was called to testify as an expert witness in the trials on the abuses that occurred in the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib.
Because of the conditions under which this experiment was designed and carried out, both Zimbardo and his collaborators have received numerous criticisms. The most widespread is the ethical questioning of the tendency of much scientific research to generate serious stress situations in the participants, in order to test a hypothesis .
On the other hand, the possibility of generalizing their findings has been questioned, due to the homogeneity of the sample they used.
In the same way, the presence of gender biases has been questioned (for example, only men participated, including the researchers themselves), in addition to the fact that it starts from considering theories about prosocial behaviors that tend to be measured male behavioral models.