Customer Reviews


46 Reviews
5 star:
 (24)
4 star:
 (13)
3 star:
 (5)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fasinating
The Lucifer Effect is a thoroughly fascinating and scholarly account of the situational forces that compel individuals to act without due thought and regard for the feelings of their fellow human beings. It contains one of the most detailed treatments of the author's Stanford Prison Experiments I've ever read, complete with details unavailable elsewhere. That treatment...
Published on 10 Aug 2008 by Dr. Michael Heron

versus
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth the effort
It could be an incredibly interesting book had the author been far more concise. The same information, observations and conclusions are repeated over and over again. Nevertheless, the subject of the book is fascinating and worth the effort, because it helps a lot in understanding how human beings work - as individuals and as societies. It also forces you to think more...
Published 19 months ago by Judyta Szacillo


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fasinating, 10 Aug 2008
By 
This review is from: The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil (Paperback)
The Lucifer Effect is a thoroughly fascinating and scholarly account of the situational forces that compel individuals to act without due thought and regard for the feelings of their fellow human beings. It contains one of the most detailed treatments of the author's Stanford Prison Experiments I've ever read, complete with details unavailable elsewhere. That treatment alone justifies reading the book. The arguments are compelling and convincing, and illustrated with copious examples of real world situations in which perfectly normal people have gone 'to the dark side'.

The sole criticism I have of the book is that the lengthy section on the Abu Ghraib scandals contains too much editorialising, especially in the sections where the author goes through the chain of command apportioning blame. While the author is not especially detached throughout the text, in this particular instance it veers off into bias in a way that jars.

That's a fairly minor objection though, and I thoroughly recommend the book to anyone who wants to understand a bit more about how human nature is only part of the moral equation.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth the effort, 27 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It could be an incredibly interesting book had the author been far more concise. The same information, observations and conclusions are repeated over and over again. Nevertheless, the subject of the book is fascinating and worth the effort, because it helps a lot in understanding how human beings work - as individuals and as societies. It also forces you to think more critically about yourself and, at the same time, it makes you aspire to do better. It is a great pity that the narrative is so discouraging.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You are average!, 11 Jun 2007
By 
S. Bradford - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lucifer Effect (Hardcover)
Well worth reading for everybody who knows somebody else!

The bad: as other reviews state there is quite a bit of repetition, and on occasion it feels like Zimbardo discards disposition through the use of psychological inventories alone.

The good: highlights the evil that systems and situations can encourage whilst not belittling the responsibility of the individual. Provides the reader with practical steps to avoid being drawn into evil behaviour.

The key message for me was that I am thoroughly average and therefore capable of great evil given the right circumstances.

The book has the power to be transformative, I have caught myself in the process of dehumanising others, considering others as "them", and been given an opportunity to change my thinking. As a side effect of this I have been reminded of the way that we are prepared to dehumanise others by the media.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, 17 May 2007
By 
K. Clarke "Zen Reader" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lucifer Effect (Hardcover)
This is a very interesting book on the nature and causes of evil behaviour.

Zimbardo's basic thesis is that situation plays a bigger part in determining evil or heroic behaviour than innate disposition. The starting poing is the Sanford prison experiment in which students were divided randomly into guards and prisoners for an jail simulation in the basement of the university's psychology department. They very quickly meld into their roles.

From there he ranges far and wide over african boy soldiers, nazi camp guards, the My Lai massacre, Abu Ghraib and experiments where participants are encouraged by authority figures to inflict pain.

Moral agency isn't denied but a different basis for how we act than personal disposition is suggested. Our personalities are seen as situational and conditional constructs.

My main criticism is that it really could do with some editing. Its long winded and repetitive in parts but the its well worth ploughing on.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting and thought provoking., 2 Jan 2012
This review is from: The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil (Paperback)
I went to an adult education class to study psychology and this book was recommended and I found it very interesting. I was a bit shocked to realize that it is posible for honest and moral people to turn and become cruel and sadistic. Basicaly the book is in two parts the first half is about a psychological experiment, being the Stanford Prison Experiment and then the second half about the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq which is all very enlightening and disturbing at the same time. I very much recommend this book, it is very much needed in society for people to understand some of the causes of cruel and inhumane acts.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A significant key to understanding the evils in many environments, 3 Aug 2009
By 
This review is from: The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil (Paperback)
I found this book just amazing. I learnt so much about how conditions with bad rules as well as no rules with no accountability will encourage a very large majority of people, sometimes as much as 90% of people, to commit acts of evil. This totally shocked me.
The reason why I bought this book is that I started to work in a very repressive environment. I had never worked in such an environment before, and I could not understand why, as in previous places I was able to pin such a negative vibe on an individual. At this place I could not. It seemed to me that the system was at play, but no-one was trying to challenge it.
This book answered that question - almost all people will comply or enforce negative behaviours. Very senior management, who set the tone and the rules, will also let the negative behaviour occur and do nothing. Very very few people will ever challenge it. And the reason for this : people want to belong and they fear rejection. If they challenge the norms there is a high emotional cost to pay : exactly what happened to me. In a matter of weeks I went from being a confident person to utter depression as I so detested the environment. The last chapter was the saving grace and has enabled me to know how we can work to make working environments better. Thank you Phil.
I have four criticisms having read this book:
1. Having read it I seem to trust psychologists less : they seem to create scientific experiments where by volunteers are duped into them, for example they provide adverts to come to an experiment. The advert does not set out what will happen in the experiment.
2. The psychological experiments are always evil. Phil in his last chapter comes up with a thought experiment of doing a good positive behaviour experiment, stating that such a one has not been done.
3. Phil regularly states that the individuals who committed crimes cannot be excused for their crimes. But he never elaborates on this. On the one hand he spends 98% of the book explaining that the conditions caused the bad behaviour, and then 2% (or less) stating that they were responsible for the bad behaviour. For me I want to know why at the end of day do human beings commit evil acts in such bad conditions. Is Phil saying that at the end of the day we are puppets, 100% manipulated by our environment? Or is he saying we are manipulated by say 99% of our environment and that there is 1% within each individual person to choose good or evil? In my heart I believe we are able to choose, and we must learn to choose to find that 1% to do good, and perhaps we can start growing that 1% to 2% to 10% and so on, the maximum I do not know though. Would groups of nuns do the same? Would Jesus and the 12 disciples have done the same?
4. I worry if the social construct of psychology research is to fund evil experiments. I shall keep detached from the research. At one point I was considering studying psychology, but would be concerned that after a while I would end up being manipulated into their social construct.
I have now bought Phil's next book : The Time Paradox, and look forward to writing my next review of it
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book, but not a light read, 22 Aug 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil (Paperback)
This is an important book, as many of the official reviews and comments have said, and the content and relevance are both excellent. However, it's worth saying from the outset that it is no light read. This is true in terms of the subject matter, but also in terms of the small font and exhaustive writing style. This is a thorough book that covers its message to absolute completion, and makes no attempt to skip over the detail of that.

Roughly, the book is split into 3+1 sections. I say 3+1 instead of 4, as the 4th is almost an appendage rather than a dedicated section in its own right. After a brief introduction, the book dives directly into its main subject matter: an exhaustive and minute-by-minute account of the Stanford Prison Experiment. It is by far the most detailed account I have read on the subject, perhaps not surprisingly so when you consider that Zimbardo was the principle orchestrator of the study. I won't go into detail of the accounts, as that would spoil the book, but there are detailed descriptions of every nuance and situation encountered.

Having consider the experiment from start to finish (or strictly speaking, to abortion), the second part of the book then reflects on the social psychology lessons learned from it. Alongside other famous contemporary experiments, such as the work by Stanley Milgram on obedience to authority, a picture is drawn of how situational forces are much stronger at influencing our behaviours than we care to admit. This is, of course, the core point of the book.

With the account given and the social and behavioural analysis complete, the book then moves to Zimbardo's own experiences as an expert witness in the trials of guards involved in the Abu Ghraib scandal. As would be expected, Zimbardo's core point is that the terrible acts committed are not--as the official explanation states--the work of a few bad apples, but instead were the result of systemic and situational failures throughout many areas. He draws on his research through the Stanford experiments to conclude that anyone in that situation may have acted in the same way. This is not an excuse, but rather an explanation.

Lastly, the book considers the reverse, whether situations can also generate heroes, and what that might say about them.

Personally, I found the first and second sections the most enlightening and interesting. The implications for Abu Ghraib, whilst damning, are somewhat academic since the sentences have already been passed and the blame apportioned. In fact, Zimbardo himself admits on a few occasions that he feels his expert testimony wasn't really taken seriously. As such, the third section turns into something of an exercise in creating a water-tight soap box for his now incarcerated clients. Whilst his conclusions are compelling, he is somewhat preaching to the choir, and the sheer quantity of his "evidence" can be overwhelming. I found that I didn't need to read and dissect tens of testimonies and statements to agree with his core point, and I have to confess that I eventually skipped much of this section.

Similarly, with the final section, whilst an interesting muse, I did not feel that there was anything of a revelation in nature. Because of the length of the book (deceptively so because of its small font size and tightly packed paragraphs), I think that it could arguably be split into two books, and for me is the account of the Stanford Prison experiment and the subsequent psychology analysis which is important, less so the political agenda.

Buy this book if you are fascinated in the equality of people, and how the saint can become the sinner, the freedom fighter the dictator. It shows how we are all capable of incredible good and incredible evil, and the route we take is less of our own intrinsic nature and more a product of our circumstances.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It could be You - how good people turn evil., 29 Jan 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil (Paperback)
I was often mystified as to why people behave in such inhumane ways towards each other. Daily reports in the news range from bullying through torture to genocide. Things I think of as unimaginable cruelty are surely the behaviours of maniacs and madmen, right? WRONG!

The Lucifer Effect highlights the simple process by which completely healthy, rational people become evil.
Zimbardo's experiments show how what we think of as being indefensible becomes not only possible but completely normal. Zimbardo's research describes tendencies in human psychology and reveals the process of how cruelty takes place. If we think that 'We' would never do such things...we are Quite Wrong!

The Lucifer Effect describes the process as a gradient; a little inaction here; a little silence there. The process is simple and subtle; all we have to do is collude through silence - say nothing, do nothing, don't rock the boat, ignore our doubts etc.

The final chapter talks about Learning to recognise Influences and Resist them. An awareness of how this psychological process takes place is key. If things look, feel or sound bad - Pay Attention - this means things Are Bad. We can learn to pay attention; learn how to put the brakes on and learn how to maintain integrity.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Product Description, 21 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil (Paperback)
Product Description. I'm returning the paperback version as the print size is way too small. I reckon by the end of 500 pages of such small print I'd need glasses. I hope Rider Books reads this review and takes note. Apologies for 'mis-using' the review platform - I think other buyers should be made aware of the small print size.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely fascinating and relevant read, 3 Aug 2009
By 
C. Ashworth (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil (Paperback)
At first glance I was intimidated at the thickness and small type of the text thinking it would take me weeks to read this book - I finished it in a week!!!

Zimbardo has extensively researched this topic as well as having had and been exposed to real-life experience of the environment where evil grows and thrives. I noted in one review that it was felt he made his feelings too clear. I like this about the book, due to his extensive research he has earned the right to a solid opinion on the matter. Saying this, he lays out the facts within the book, so you are able to make your own mind up as to whether you agree with him or not.

Zimbardo goes into detail on the Stanford Prison Experiments but also draws parallels from other research carried out by others, both in the lab as well as in the public domain. He also investigates and draws parallels with Abu Ghraib, leaving you with a thorough understanding of what his opinions (and those of many others) are built upon.

He ends the book celebrating the good in people and demonstrating how if you can create situations where evil thrives, then you can do the same for goodness.

There are many parallels with the corporate world so I do not think it is just politicians who need to read this but also any Organisational Designer, Human Resourcer and Learning and Development personnel could benefit from reading this book!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil
The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil by Philip Zimbardo (Paperback - 6 Mar 2008)
6.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews