The Lucifer Effect Hardcover – 15 Mar 2007
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"Professor Zimbardo deserves heartfelt thanks for disclosing and
illuminating the dark, hidden corners of the human soul. His book does not
always make encouraging reading. Still, he confirms that getting to know
ourselves is a crucial challenge of human existence."
-- Vaclev Havel, former President of the Czech Republic
"This book takes us where angels fear to tread, uncovering the
'Lucifer' that sits incubating in each individual and every human
institution...The professor's timely study screams out at us to be on the
alert, to be ever mindful and ever ready least we fall into this heart of
utter darkness." -- Brian Keenan, author of An Evil Cradling
"all politicians and social commentators - should read this
book...an important book; if enough people absorbed its argument, we might
find ourselves in a better polity"
-- Sunday Times
A fascinating exploration of how, under certain circumstances, the human character can be transformed from good to evil, now in paperback --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Its a book
It entertained me.
Buy it and see if it entertains you.
leave well alone. its fact. This book could influence psychological coercion, without you even knowing it.
satanic ritual Abuse, Brainwash. DO NOT BUY OR READ THIS BOOK.