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Sioux Falls Feminists endorse The Lucifer Effect for describing how
absolute power corrupts absolutely. Give us total control over other
human beings, how many of us would behave differently
than they are described as behaving in this book.

The Lucifer Effect
Understanding How Good People Turn Evil
By Philip Zimbardo

The Lucifer Effect (2007) - 551 pages
The Lucifer Effect at Amazon.com

What makes good people do bad things? How can moral people be seduced to act immorally? Where is the line separating good from evil, and who is in danger of crossing it?

Renowned social psychologist Philip Zimbardo has the answers, and in The Lucifer Effect he explains how - and the myriad reasons why - we are all susceptible to the lure of "the dark side." Drawing on examples from history as well as his own trailblazing research, Zimbardo details how situational forces and group dynamics can work in concert to make monsters out of decent men and women.

Zimbardo is perhaps best known as the creator of the Stanford prison experiment. Here, for the first time and in vivid detail, he tells the full story of this landmark study, in which a group of college-student volunteers was randomly divided into "guards" and "inmates" and then placed in a mock prison environment. Within a week the study was abandoned, as ordinary students were transformed into either brutal, sadistic guards or emotionally broken prisoners.

By illuminating the psychological causes behind such disturbing metamorphoses, Zimbardo enables us to better understand a variety of harrowing phenomena, from corporate malfeasance to organized genocide to how once upstanding American soldiers came to abuse and torture Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib. He replaces the long-held notion of the "bad apple" with that of the "bad barrel" - the idea that the social setting and the system contaminate the individual, rather than the other way around.

This is a book that dares to hold a mirror up to mankind, showing us that we might not be who we think we are. While forcing us to reexamine what we are capable of doing when caught up in the crucible of behavioral dynamics, though, Zimbardo also offers hope. We are capable of resisting evil, he argues, and can even teach ourselves to act heroically. Like Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalemand Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate, The Lucifer Effect is a shocking, engrossing study that will change the way we view human behavior.

Philip Zimbardo is professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University and has also taught at Yale University, New York university, and Columbia University. He is the co-author of Psychology and Life and the author of Shyness, which together have sold more than 2.5 million copies. Zimbardo has been president of the American Psychological Association and is now director of the Stanford Center on Interdisciplinary Policy, Education, and Research on Terrorism. He also narrated the award-winning PBS series Discovering Psychology, which he helped create. In 2004, he acted as an expert witness in the court-martial hearings of one of the American army reservists accused of criminal behavior in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. His informative website prisonexperiment.org is visited by millions every year. Visit the author's personal website at zimbardo.com, and visit this book's website at LuciferEffect.com.

And more experiments studying how
humans respond in authority situations.

2-18-16 Following orders 'distances us' from our own actions
Following orders 'distances us' from our own actions
Neuroscientists have added fresh insight to the observation that people are surprisingly willing to hurt others if they are ordered to do so. This was famously shown by psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. In the new study, subjects in pairs were paid to deliver mild electric shocks to one another. If they were instructed to administer the shocks, they sensed more of a delay before the jolt was delivered, compared to when they made their own decisions. Researchers regard this timing judgment as an indicator of how responsible we feel for our actions. When we switch on a light, for example, we know we are in control and we usually perceive the effect as instantaneous, even if there is a lag. By contrast, the new findings suggest that if we are following orders, that joined-up perception drifts a little and our sense of "agency" is genuinely reduced.

2-18-16 'Torture' study redo shows people feel less agency under orders
'Torture' study redo shows people feel less agency under orders
A replication of Stanley Milgram's notorious torture experiments reveals that our brain yields responsibility for actions when we obey orders. “I was simply obeying orders!” It’s the oldest excuse in the book, trotted out by those accused of everything from Nazi atrocities in the second world war to genocidal massacres in the Balkans and Rwanda. Now, scientists have found that our brains genuinely lose a sense of agency over our actions when we obey orders, explaining why people can be so easily coerced. The results come from a modified version of the notorious Milgram “torture” experiments, and suggest that those who issue orders to hurt others bear a much greater responsibility than previously appreciated. In 1963, Stanley Milgram and his colleagues at Yale University ordered participants to deliver electric shocks to another individual for failing to answer questions correctly. Unknown to them, the individual was an actor pretending to react to the punishments. A large number of people obediently delivered painful shocks if encouraged by an authority figure, despite seeing their “victims” in apparent pain and distress. Now, in a much milder version of the experiment, Patrick Haggard of University College London and his colleagues have shown that people mentally distance themselves from their actions when obeying orders. “Our work shows that obeying an order to act produces a reduced sense of agency, compared to deciding to act for oneself,” says Haggard.

11-16-15 Experimenter movie takes shock tactics to new level
Experimenter movie takes shock tactics to new level
It was an experiment that shocked society in 1961, months after the trial began of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. A Yale university psychologist, Stanley Milgram, carried out a test in which participants thought they were delivering increasingly stronger electric shocks to someone in the next room every time they got an answer wrong. In fact there were no shocks, just a part played by an actor, but Milgram found that around 65% of people carried on administering the shocks, even if they found it upsetting, simply because they were told to do so. A New York-born Jew, Milgram wanted to investigate Eichmann's defence - that he was just obeying orders. This story has now be turned into a film, Experimenter, starring Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder.

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The Lucifer Effect
Understanding How Good People Turn Evil
By Philip Zimbardo

Sioux Falls Feminists endorse The Lucifer Effect for describing how
absolute power corrupts absolutely. Give us total control over other
human beings, how many of us would behave differently
than they are described as behaving in this book.