Philip Zimbardo is a renowned psychologist popular for his findings on the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE). The Lucifer effect is a book published by Philip Zimbardo in 2007, which talks about the effects and keynotes on the SPE.
The prison experiment was conducted to understand people’s behavior and prove how social responsibilities can affect a person’s behavior. Although it was scheduled to run for two weeks, the experiment was halted on the sixth day owing to the emotional distress of the prisoners. The Lucifer effect also talks about how good people turn evil and the psychological reason behind it. This book includes over 30 years of experience, penned by Philip Zimbardo, and how immoral acts can affect an otherwise moral person’s behavior. The book was The New York Times Bestseller and won the American Psychological Association Book award.
The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo – An overview
The book’s title gained inspiration from the pious story of Lucifer, the favored angel of God who later assumes the role of Satan, the embodiment of evil.
The first chapter of the book deals with the transformation of evil from good, subjected to social disposition, a system of power, and other situations in general. It talks about the moral transformation a person undergoes in their mind to reach the level of Lucifer.
Chapters 2 to 9 play a crucial role in explaining the conditions of the SPE with dialogues from participants of the experiment. It also contains pictures of the actual incident, depicting the mental and emotional trauma the participants when through.
Chapter 10 talks about the data gathered from the experiment and how they can be applied to actual life events to understand a person’s change of behavior owing to social stigmas and not their inherent personalities.
In chapter 11, Philip Zimbardo talks about the ethical questions raised during the course of the experiment and the relation with other experiments like bystander effect, Asch conformity experiments, moral disengagement, and many more. The book also shows the SSPE’s relevance in abusing prisoners in Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq.
Philip Zimbardo is a faithful witness to the mental torture and trauma brought about in American prisons and studies their behavior to understand the role of social stimulation affecting the human mind.
Reviews of the book
According to critics and psychology lovers, it is a must-read for those interested in the intersection of psychological processes and reality. Furthermore, it is a book, especially for educators, social scientists, policies, and decision-makers who have the power to treat their subordinates right without giving them a chance to undergo mental trauma. If you also wish to understand how the human mind changes with the assumption of different roles in their life, this is a must-read!