31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
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.