Philip Zimbardo is a famous, influential psychologist who is recognized for his work on the Stanford Prison Experiment hypothesis. Apart from studying physiology and spreading its powerful knowledge to the world, he has also authorized many textbooks and started the Discovering Psychology video series, which has helped millions of psychology students worldwide.

Before his retirement in 2003, he conducted various research and worked in top universities as a psychology professor to turn around people’s lives. Philip Zimbardo delivered his last lecture in 2007 at Stanford University on Exploring human nature.

influential psychologist

Philip Zimbardo’s definition of psychology

Psychology is a branch of study that deals with accustoming to changes based on our surroundings. The term often refers to specific branches and extensions, like positive psychology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Based on his experiments and findings, Philip Zimbardo coined his definition in the field of investigation.

Philip Zimbardo is a popular social psychologist famous for his experimental findings, research, and conclusions on the psychology of heroism. Based on this branch, he defines psychology as”

The course of actions the individuals executes which keep them motivated for altruistic causes.”

According to Zimbardo, categorizing humans into good and evil merely based on their behavior is irrational. Instead, he argues that the human mind is impacted by the interaction with environmental factors like experiences, culture, and many more.

Philip Zimbardo’s contribution to Psychology

One of his famous experiments – The Stanford Prison Experiment, is an experiment that determines the influence of situational forces on the human mind. The study became exceptionally popular after it was related to the Abu Ghraib abuse of prisoners and was also subjected to various criticisms.

Since the failure of the experiment in social terms due to ethical concerns, Philip Zimbardo also researched various other topics like heroism, cult behavior, shyness, and many others.

In 2002, Philip Zimbardo was elected as the President of the American Psychological Association.

Philip Zimbardo’s theories about time

Based on his research, Zimbardo suggested five different perspectives on time. They are:

  • The past-position perspective involves the positive evolution of the past.
  • The past-negative perspective, which involves the negative evolution of the past
  • Future-perspective which is based on goal-based thinking about the future
  • A present-hedonistic perspective which is based on finding happiness and pleasure in the current moment
  • Present-fatalistic perspective is based on existing passively in the present situation and believing that future events are pre-destined and subjected to one’s fate.


Although most of Philip Zimbardo’s well-known experiments were conducted decades ago, the result of these experiments is still used in psychology today to study different mind behaviors. The Stanford Prison Experiment is among the most popular of his works in psychology. However, due to ethical concerns, its scientific credibility is questioned.