Philip Zimbardo: The Lucifer Effect

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Situational effects and personality come into conflict when discussing behavior. Personality is someone’s “usual pattern of behavior, feelings, and thoughts” (Twenge, 2017, p.20). It remains constant throughout different situations, but some situations can be stressful enough to make a person act out of character. The transition between a person’s normal personality and behavior to a more evil, sinister behavior fascinates a man named Philip Zimbardo, who conducted the infamous Zimbardo Prison Experiment, or Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE). Zimbardo is an American psychologist at Stanford University and the mastermind behind the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment (The Story). From the results of his study, Zimbardo explains the Lucifer Effect and how morally righteous people can do malicious things. The effect of both the one’s current …show more content…

In the Zimbardo prison experiment, participants are arbitrarily chosen to be either guards or prisoners. However, both the guards and the prisoners internalize their roles immediately. The study is terminated after 6 days because the guards began physically and emotionally abusing the prisoners. This experiment “reveals a message we do not want to accept: that most of us can undergo significant character transformations when we are caught up in the crucible of social forces” (Zimbardo, 2007, p.211). The Stanford Prison Experiment shows how latent violent and aggressive personalities are easily realized when one has dominance over submissive personalities. Because people have good and bad qualities, they also have the ability to act on either quality depending on the situation. Seemingly good people can be “seduced” (Zimbardo, 2007, p.211) into acting against their nature. Under the right situational stress, people can act cruelly even if their personality is not

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