Zimbardo The Lucifer Effect Summary

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In 1971, Philip Zimbardo, then a professor of psychology at Stanford University, devised one of the most famous psychological experiments of the twentieth century. In what is known as the Stanford Prison Experiment, he assigned twenty-four young men roles as prisoners and guards, and observed the group dynamics that ensued. To his horror, the study had to be shut down after just six days because the guards were psychologically abusing the prisoners. When the Abu Ghraib story broke in 2004, Zimbardo immediately spotted parallels with his research. He later testified as an expert witness on behalf of Ivan "Chip" Frederick II, a former staff sergeant sentenced to eight years for his role in the abuse of detainees. Zimbardo's argument to the court was that then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other top Pentagon officials had created an environment in which Frederick and his colleagues were bound to behave with sadistic cruelty. Zimbardo went on to write The Lucifer Effect, exploring the underlying psychology at work in both his experiment and the events at Abu Ghraib. His connection to Abu Ghraib became even more personal when Donald Rumsfeld was appointed a visiting fellow this year at the Hoover Institution, a think tank housed at Stanford University, where Zimbardo is a professor emeritus. The Washington Monthly's Peter Laufer and Markos Kounalakis recently caught up with Zimbardo, who is now leading an effort by Stanford faculty and students to prevent Rumsfeld's…show more content…
PZ: The reason I wrote the book was because of Abu Ghraib. A couple of years ago all of us saw those horrendous images of American soldiers abusing detainees. At the time, the Bush administration and the military were saying, "This is the work of a few bad soldiers, it's not systemic."
WM: And your studies show that, in fact, it is
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