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The Lucifer Effect
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About the Author

Philip Zimbardo is professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University and has also taught at Yale University, New York University, and Columbia University. He is the co-author of Psychology and Life and author of Shyness, which together have sold more than 2.5 million copies. Zimbardo has been president of the American Psychological Association and is now director of the Stanford Center on Interdisciplinary Policy, Education, and Research on Terrorism. He also narrated the award-winning PBS series Discovering Psychology, which he helped create. In 2004, he acted as an expert witness in the court-martial hearings of one of the American army reservists accused of criminal behavior in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. His informative website, www.prisonexperiment.org is visited by millions every year. Visit the author's personal website at www.zimbardo.com.

Reviews

Zimbardo (psychology, emeritus, Stanford Univ.) is best known for a 1971 study, since called the Stanford Prison Experiment, in which student volunteers were randomly assigned to be guards or prisoners in a simulated jail. Although everyone involved knew that the so-called prisoners weren't guilty of anything, the violence and humiliation inflicted by the guards became so severe that the study had to be terminated prematurely. Here, Zimbardo explains that this happened not because the guards were bad people but because of the social situation into which they were thrust. Recently, he studied a real-life situation of his experiment when he served as a defense consultant in the trial of an Abu Ghraib guard. Zimbardo describes his own work and that of others, such as psychologist Stanley Milgram and sociologist Erving Goffman, in order to build a set of prescriptions for governments and organizations that would minimize the possibility of such human rights abuses occurring again. A well-written and important work; recommended for all libraries.-Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, WA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Psychologist Zimbardo masterminded the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, in which college students randomly assigned to be guards or inmates found themselves enacting sadistic abuse or abject submissiveness. In this penetrating investigation, he revisits-at great length and with much hand-wringing-the SPE study and applies it to historical examples of injustice and atrocity, especially the Abu Ghraib outrages by the U.S. military. His troubling finding is that almost anyone, given the right "situational" influences, can be made to abandon moral scruples and cooperate in violence and oppression. (He tacks on a feel-good chapter about "the banality of heroism," with tips on how to resist malign situational pressures.) The author, who was an expert defense witness at the court-martial of an Abu Ghraib guard, argues against focusing on the dispositions of perpetrators of abuse; he insists that we blame the situation and the "system" that constructed it, and mounts an extended indictment of the architects of the Abu Ghraib system, including President Bush. Combining a dense but readable and often engrossing exposition of social psychology research with an impassioned moral seriousness, Zimbardo challenges readers to look beyond glib denunciations of evil-doers and ponder our collective responsibility for the world's ills. 23 photos. (Apr. 3) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"The Lucifer Effect will change forever the way you think about why we behave the way we do--and, in particular, about the human potential for evil. This is a disturbing book, but one that has never been more necessary."--Malcolm Gladwell

"An important book . . . All politicians and social commentators . . . should read this."--The Times (London) "Powerful . . . an extraordinarily valuable addition to the literature of the psychology of violence or 'evil.'"--The American Prospect "Penetrating . . . Combining a dense but readable and often engrossing exposition of social psychology research with an impassioned moral seriousness, Zimbardo challenges readers to look beyond glib denunciations of evil-doers and ponder our collective responsibility for the world's ills."--Publishers Weekly

"A sprawling discussion . . . With this book, Zimbardo couples a thorough narrative of the Stanford Prison Experiment with an analysis of the social dynamics of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, arguing that the 'experimental dehumanization' of the former is instructive in understanding the abusive conduct of guards at the latter."--Booklist "In the Stanford Prison Experiment, Philip Zimbardo bottled evil in a laboratory. The lessons he learned show us our dark nature but also fill us with hope if we heed their counsel. The Lucifer Effect reads like a novel."--Anthony Pratkanis, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology, University of California

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