Lucifer Effect: Why do good people become evil people?


How is it possible that normal people take evil? Why do good people become bad people? What is evil actually? How do you confront him and become such a hero?

Evil we everywhere we look. Human history is full of it. And the history of the last century especially – and honestly, not even 21. Century does not poised best. It is therefore not worth the down evil that we have successfully and unsuccessfully faced as humanity. But who committing this evil? Statistically, it is not possible that so much evil is happening in the world when most people are not evil. So I’ll allow you to quote the troubling words of Arendt (1995, pp. 346), who writes in his work dealing with banality evil:

“The most was of the Eichmann person is that most people were like him, and people in their most are not sadistic or perverse, but they were and still are awful, even grimly normal. From the perspective of our legal institutions and our moral standards, this normalcy was much worser than all the brutalities together. For it meant, as we learned over and over again from the testimonies of the defendants and their defenders in Nuremberg, that this new type of criminal – which is a true hostis generis Humani – is committing his crimes in circumstances that make him practically impossible to know or to feel that it What he does is wrong. “

What if the evil really was not only pathological individuals? How is it possible that normal people take evil? Why do good people become bad people? What is evil actually? How do you confront him and become such a hero? These are the questions I would like to answer in the following work.

Lucifer Effect


One of the oldest and most famous cosmic changes concerns Lucifer. Lucifer, “Whitelighter”, was the most popular angel of God. One day, however, he defied, he was banished and became Satan, the creator of All evil. The Fairy-tale vision of the world often tries to indicate that things are either black or white. That there is only good and evil. They’re just good and bad people. It’s not like that. Good and evil is in each of us. Just as Lucifer was originally good and gradually began to commit evil, even people are capable of acts that are contrary to their conviction. One known and often quoted paraphrase of Alexander Solzhenitsyn reads: “If all this was so simple! If there were evil people who would commit evil deeds somewhere, it would be necessary to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the boundary separating good and evil passes through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? “

Now try to look at the picture next to it. What do you see? Look again, more thoroughly. Do you see the angels that alternate the Devils? Can you see how one can ‘t exist without each other? It’s kinda like the Chinese Jin-yang. In each of us, there is the potential of evil and good. Before you answer a provocative question, how would you be if you met evil, read about the following experiment, which is worth it.
Standford Prison Experiment

Stanford Experiment

This experiment is still active and very popular in psychology – Philip G. Zimbardo, who has been confronted with evil for a lifetime. He grew up in the infamous borough of New York-Bronx. He was a friend of another controversial experimenter Milgrama (Zimbardo, 2009). Now, however, to one of the most famous psychology experiments ever.

There is probably no psychology student who wouldn ‘t know this experiment. And even among the general public, it is unbelievably popular. It is therefore as striking as little about this experiment we actually know. The detailed description was never published in a professional psychological journal (Haslam, 2003). Some original Zimbardo publications are even contradictory in small details (from 1997). The whole experiment has long been shrouded in mystery. No one really knew what had happened there. Today, all visual and audio recordings have not been published publicly. And although in his latest book Zimbardo discusses the progress of the experiment in detail, there is still a place for the questions. I will try, however, for you to reconstruct the whole story, as the resources allow it. In the following chapters on the experiment, I will therefore be based primarily on primary studies (Zimbardo, 1971, 1973, 1973b, 1973C, 1998, 2000, 2008), the latest Zimbardo books (Zimbardo, 2014) and the official website of the Experiment ( See “Recommended Web pages and other material”).

The Experiment that funded the US Office of Naval Research, which tried to find out why the peacekeepers tend to behave cruelly to prisoners, took place in August 1971 in the basement of the psychology department at Stanford University in the quiet town of Palo Alto. The $15 advertisement (approximately $85 today) per day spent in the experiment was signed by 75 respondents, from whom Zimbardo and colleagues chose 24 most suitable candidates. They were men, college students, without prior criminal activity. They did not show the slightest signs of pathology, all psychological tests (F-scale measuring authoritarianism, MACH-IV – a scale of MACHIAVELISM and Comrey Personality Scale – CPS) considered them as “normal” people. They have been physically healthy, mentally stable, without the signs of antisocial and anti-social behavior. They were people like us.

The coin toss then decided on who the Overseer and who was the prisoner. Three alternates were selected from each group. The experiment was actively attended by 9 prisoners (later also one informant and alternate), 9 peacekeepers and principal supervisor David Jaffe (his university work “Psychology of imprisonment” became the main impulse of the whole experiment), two other postgraduate students – William Curtis Banks and Craig Haney were not directly involved in the experiment. With the experiment, the former prisoner (17 years in prison), Andrew Carlo Prescott, was also assisted in concluding the experiment as “head of the committee deciding on release”. Finally, the director’s post was held by Phillip George Zimbardo. The smaller roles were then occupied by a priest, a lawyer, and, oddly, the parents.

Attempt Lombardo

The prison was exposed in the basement of the Department of Psychology. The corridor was divided by temporarily built-up walls. In this small prison, there were 3 cells (each for three prisoners) with a size of 6 × 9 feet. The doors were replaced by lattices, the cells were paint black and were equipped with only uncomfortable beds and secret systems that recorded sound. In addition to the duties, a solitary person was established, which was unlighted and extremely small (2 parts for 2 prisoners of 2x2x7 stop). In prison, we also found a headquarters for the peacekeepers, where they could rest, a room where the cameras and the prison yard–the space in front of the cells. The prisoners had to go outside the prison. (but to ensure that authenticity is not impaired, they will walk with sacks on their heads.)

The guards wore uniforms, a baton as a symbol of power, whistles, and mirror sunglasses (the spectacles Zimbardo inspired in the guided movie Dude Luke.), which created a sense of anonymity. The prisoners, on the other hand, were clad only in a noncom cloak, under which they had no underwear, and they had a stocking covering the hair (Zimbardo feared that the haircut could be unethical.), a chain with a locked lock on the leg that represented the unfreedom, and the Feet of rubber sandals. Moreover, the prisoners had to call only the numbers they received, and the peacekeepers could only address the “Warden.” The prisoners were in jail nonstop, while the guards took turns after-shifts (three guards were on each inning). Prisoners have signed a contract that they will always be under surveillance, lose their private and temporarily lose some of their rights. However, it must not be physically abusive. Neither the prisoners nor the peacekeepers were more detailed how they were supposed to behave–except to explicitly emphasize the prohibition of physical violence they had to create their role themselves. Zimbardo sought to create a composition of power and helplessness to explain why people actually behave badly. And believe it or not, he’s done it. The Experiment, which was to last for 14 days, had to be completed on the sixth day, because it was incredibly sprained control. Let’s see why:

1. Day

It all started on Sunday 14. August 1971. Zimbardo agreed with the local police, who carried out unsuspecting prisoners a realistic arrest. In front of their families and neighbors, they were searched, bounded and takened by a police car at the station where the protocol was drawn. Then they remove their fingerprints, and with a sack on his head they wased into the prison, where they were vysvlečeni naked and postříkánied with the addition of everything as in a real prison. Although the prisoners were not taking the whole situation seriously, the guards tried to calm them. The counting that soon becomes an act of bullying is taught by the rules (which you can download here) and their numbers as long as they do not learn by heart. The punishment becomes a clique. Prisoners must also sing. At the end of the census, the peacekeepers ask whether they like singing. One prisoner said no. This was a sufficient reason for the peacekeeper to send him to the solitary (where he could spend only one hour). Yet the first day was carried in good spirits and without conflict.

2. Day

The next day, Přepočítáváním begins to rotate the guards for a half-past three in the morning. The prisoners still did not accept their roles, and therefore joke and laugh. Peacekeepers are also still unsure about their roles. But the morning census is a little harsher. Prisoners are tired, time-confused and show the first signs of rebellion. The peacekeepers are forcing them to push, over and over, make the bed. Some prisoners are sent to the solitary (where they enjoy and laugh). One prisoner gets the nickname “Sarge” because he is very obedient, he readily obeys all orders and even asked whether he can handle it until it is exhausted. Prisoners still violate the rule of speaking. Peacekeepers are getting desperate. They came to a number of First great punishments – scrubbing floors and toilets, and the creative guards had also extended their duvets in the spikes, so they had to clean them for at least an hour.

The first big revolt is happening. 4400 ‘s prisoners in the loneliness of the word are offending the peacekeepers. Other prisoners have down patches with names. And the prisoners in cell No. 1 with barricaded beds. So the guards took the punishment for the bed and clothing No. 2. Then they go to the third cell, which the cell No. 2 warns and encourages them to revolt. Cell No. 3 (in which it is Sarge), however, surrenders without a fight. The guards will then take the fire extinguisher (which paradoxically had to be on request of the Ethics committee) and are him to the prisoners in cell No. 2. This rebel cell feels betrayal and appeals at least to cell No. 1, let him not give up. This cell is therefore divided (prisoners are still naked), one goes to solitary, the other on the prison yard and the third remains in the cell itself. The first call appears after the end (“Hey, Zimbardo, get your butt back and be here!”), which Zimbardo ignores. The meal was offered only to a cell no. 3, who refused him and decided to stick with the other prisoners. The prisoners in solitary (she was almost always full) refused to leave and stayed there for an hour longer. Prisoners in cell No. 1 They plan to escape, they manage to loosen the bolts and break the lock. The peacekeepers will notice this, but the barricade can be broken up later. He also splits the prisoners–obedient to the rebels and vice versa, thereby nalomíing their morality and confidence–prisoners do not know if they can trust.

Zimbardo is aware of the seriousness of the situation and offers prisoners to select three representatives to be able to create a “inmates ‘ committee”. The representatives will meet with the director, who tells them that he may do what he can, but that they are the prisoners themselves. The prisoner, who had previously called Zimbardo, calls him harder (The Zimbardo!). This time the Zimbardo fits him. But there is also an advisor and a former prisoner Carlo, who’s objections that he did not eat, mocked and shouted on him that he would not have a chance to survive in a real jail. Zimbardo will then offer him the function of stool pigeon, but it will refuse. But the situation will pick up the momentum, when this prisoner information among the others that he did not let him out of the experiment. They can’t leave this jail, and the lawyer was dismissed. No one knows what prisoners motivated this lie, which immediately demotivates other prisoners. They’re giving up your fight. The rebel leader, the prisoner number 8162, is not going to surrender. He’ll try to run. It is caught, and the solitude is waiting for the guards to beat the batons and make such an unbearable rumble. The evening census was more relaxed. Prisoners get in the game to the fullest of their roles. Bullying in the form of pushups and chanting worse. When the rebel leader came back from the loneliness, he would collapse mentally. Shouting that he slit his veins and relied on a lawyer. Although it is not certain whether it simulates, it is released from the experiment. But the warden will hear at night how prisoners are talking about the plan. He said he was just playing so he could go back with his friends and jail to smash them. This theory is supported by the fact that it Zimbardo another day will see him near the department. Zimbardo, who unconsciously accepted the role of the director, invades paranoia and decides not only to issue a warrant, but will even try to move the prison to the next day.

3. Day

Walking to the toilet becomes a privilege. Prisoners urinate in buckets. Prison stinks. The most powerful peacekeepers become unwritten leaders of the shifts, and more peacekeepers use batons again. The night recalculation takes place in 6 supervisors because the guards from the night shift have unjustifiably extended their service. Chickens, which has long become a classic, takes forty minutes. Then they let the prisoners sleep until morning.

Meanwhile, Zimbardo is contemplating how to prevent the approaching of the prison attack. The local police, however, reject the proposal to relocate prisoners to a real prison, so he decided to place the prisoners as a substitute for the 8126 informant – his pupil. But he almost immediately accepts his new role and refuses to deliver information. Meanwhile, the prisoners will seize the castle from the cell and hide him somewhere. Even if the informant knows, he won’t say anything.


This day also visits. (Previously, letters were sent to censored.) Prisoners up the whole prison, they must take off their stockings from their heads, they are masked by welts and they are told that if they complain, they will ban them next time they visit. The daily shift guards are asked to pay overtime. Inmates get eaten – they also get dessert. The whole prison plays quiet music. Each visit can take up to max. 10 minutes. Parents and other visitors very unexpectedly immediately accept their roles. They keep a distance from prisoners (no warm welcome, they ask if prisoners can shake their hand – note that they are asking for prisoners, not their sons). Only one mother complains Zimbardo that she hasn’t seen her son in this bad condition yet. Zimbardo, however, will play the city and the masculine pride of her husband, that the son will certainly handle it-and together with her husband, she is convinced that it is fine. At the end of the visit, Zimbardo decided to relocate the prisoners in case of assault. The tied prisoners with sacks on the heads will move to the warehouse and simulate the completion of the experiment (a little disassembles it and waits in jail alone) so that they can say it is over. But-will not be in jail, and his colleagues, who have seen the transport of prisoners, will come in instead. They’re a little frightened and sorry for them. They ask Zimbardo what a variable is in this experiment. But Zimbardo doesn’t answer, he just sucks, because he’s more worried, like a prison revolt and a planned assault on the prison, and drives them out. In the evening he occurs that it was just a rumor and returns the prisoner back to the cell. But he still does not get the way irrationally is preserved.

4. Day

A priest who works as a prison priest in real life is coming to prison. He immediately accepts his role. Confessing prisoners, he asks them for lawyers, the course of the courts, for what they are here. A large part of the prisoners are called by a number, they sincerely answer that they are here eg. For stealing, others complain that here they are wrong, they are innocent. Only one notes that he’s here as a volunteer in the experiment, and that he feels that the experiment is out of control. The priest doesn’t even realize that some complain about ill-treatment. They advise them to behave well, because they have a chance to parole (most prisoners will accept it), give them a blessing and advise them that they should get hold of a lawyer (but the price of the lawyer is all unpleasant). He then only notes Zimbardo that it is a faithful imitation of the prison, however, that the prison is much worse, and that the symptoms that prisoners have are common in the early days (called First-stay in prison syndrome).

That day, however, there is no prisoner in his skin. In the morning, insanity scattered the whole cell. In the loneliness he was the longest of all, and now, when he was released from the loneliness, he fell emotionally. Crying. Zimbardo takes him to the warden’s bedroom. 819, however, refuses to end. Meanwhile, the crazy thing will happen. Prisoners spontaneously and voluntarily start unanimously chant that “819 did the wrong thing”. They use the peacekeepers and force them to repeat them all over again. 819 lying in the next room hears everything.

Zimbardo will release it from the experiment, and instead call a clay substitute who gets the number 416. He is terrified of the situation in prison, and though he hasn’t eaten all day, he decides to hold a hunger strike in protest. Violates the rule of food and sucks the overseer. You include him right now. (The interview of Clay prisoners with one of the “evil” peacekeepers you can read here,) He’s bullied and sent to the solitary. The overseer is forcing the other prisoners to make the 416 insulted. To you, except for the Chief, they do. Sarge, a obedient prisoner, shows a moral face. He refuses to insult the other person and the anger of the peacekeepers will momentarily transfer from 416 to him. But he carries all the punishments without resistance. Further resistance arises in the form of principled Chief and rebel clay. Moreover, someone shouts that in cell No. 2 is a weapon. An alarm occurs. Again, the extinguisher is used. Moreover, because of Clay’s hunger, the other prisoners who start hating him don ‘t get lunch. They’ll get a choice in the evening. Either they take their duvets or the 416 will be left alone all night. The prisoners prefer to leave their duvets…

Since one of the prisoners at the instigation of the priest has arranged a lawyer, there is a “parole committee”, led by an adviser and former prisoner Carlo. During this and the next day, prisoners were heard. They had to write down the reasons why they thought they were already’s. The peacekeepers also delivered their testimonials. The first prisoner claimed to be innocent, though he admitted that the evidence was against him. Another prisoner takes an interview on a light war and Could sarcasm – his request was rejected immediately. The third prisoner (the former rebel, the same prisoner, whose condition the mother cared for) presents a smart and credible request. But his reason is weak-he wants to be home for his birthday. He quickly becomes submissive and admits things he didn’t do. They praise the prison and prevent the bruises from being made by himself, not by the guards. He’s even willing to give up his share. (The aspect of the surrender of money will become a key issue later.) Another prisoner, according to the words of one guards–“rebel Wiseacre”–says he did nothing, just signed up for the experiment. The fifth in line is the 416 holding a hunger strike, which is for a lawyer. Another prisoner is a former rebel leader who wrote in his letter that he wanted to reveal this secret attempt supported by the Government and publish it in one local alternative magazine. He was very conformally at the interview. All the Rebels gone. The penultimate prisoner was also dismissed in essence immediately. The last one on the line was Sarge. He wants his time to take advantage of productively, although he admits he has better conditions here than for studying, because he has no place to live, lives in the car and often does not have food. In conclusion, he shows his moral face again when he says he’s signed up to the next day to give a chance to other prisoners who are worse at the prison environment. The question was also asked if they were willing to give up the salary. Except for two (of which one was in financial distress) agreed, but no one said that he was terminating the experiment, and that he wanted to leave. They all content to wait the verdict.

5. Day

The fifth day begins another long harassment at half past three in the morning. But there is nothing on this recalculation that we do not know anymore. The morning census, however, will surprise you because the first physical skirmish. The prisoner refuses to do training – he is a former leader of rebellion, who has regained strength, he is also the only prisoner who fought for the rights of others – it is therefore without breakfast and must be in solitary. When it’s released, the warden invades. It was therefore tied to the bed, and the others made a group punishment – 70 pushups suddenly don ‘t just do anybody. But they did it, even if they were hungry and did not sleep. At the next census, this prisoner is vulgar and even breaks the loneliness. When bound in a cell for the second time, he can relax and unlock the lock and lock itself from the inside (he probably used the stolen key). He’s laughing at the guards.

The situation is heats. 416 still holds a hunger strike, jeopardizing the prison system more than an aggressive rebel locked up in a cell. Meanwhile collapsed another prisoner (in order of the third) and was released. This very emotionally hits his colleague from a cell that also emotionally collapses. It is therefore also released. The day is released, and the fifth prisoner with a psychosomatic rash erupted.

As Carlo had to leave, he asked Zimbardo to help his girlfriend and future wife Christine Maslachov. She was surprised by the change of one of the toughest peacekeepers Hellmann dubbed John Wayne. (You can read the Peacekeeper change in the six days here.) When she was talking to him outside the prison, he was a sympathetic young man. In prison, however, he changed into a cruel guards (even the accent changed). From minute to minute. Christine was horrified at the whole situation and the state of the prisoners. So she fought Zimbardo. The first Zimbardo claimed that she would never be a good scientist until so much emotion was involved. But when she cried out to him that she didn’t recognize him, and that what he was doing to those guys was awful, he realized his mistake and decided to end the experiment the next day. Zimbardo later wrote that “the power of the situation struck quickly and deeply by most of those who were on this exploration ship studying human nature. Only some were able to resist the situational temptation to succumb to power and dominance and to preserve some semblance of morality and decency. It is evident that I did not belong to this noble kind. “

But the evening is not over yet. The evening shift forced the prisoners to homophobe and sexual games she had begun the previous evening (they were only naked to do pushups and wipe the ground). Now, however, part of the prisoners had to simulate the sex of the anus, while the rest was with the exposed butt on the ground.

6. Day

Since the prison has a legal defence to visit, it is planned to end the experiment in the afternoon. (no one except Zimbardo knows about it yet.) Peacekeepers have commanded to let the Prisoner sleep all night. The morning census takes only a few minutes. Breakfast, however, 416 refuses to eat and the peacekeepers, despite the Zimbardo, force the prisoners to click. Another prisoner at the command of Warden CPE by forcing food into the mouth of 416. 416 has ordered to fondle and kiss the sausages from last day they did not eat (before that they had to even sleep with them). Then comes lawyer Tim B., a cousin of one prisoner. Even if he is alone with his cousin, he enjoys himself quite formally – as a lawyer with a client. He, too, immediately accepted his role. When he heard the rest of the prisoners, he was horrified. But it does not act, because it has no jurisdiction. Therefore, no one in prison remit, thereby thwarted the last hope of the prisoners. After his departure, Zimabardo finished the experiment. But it must be repeated several times before the prisoners believe and erupt euphoria.

At that moment, Zimbardo promised to use whatever power he had, for the good and the fight against evil, to support what is best in people. He described himself as an ice man in a ruthless house of inhumanity. He became the authoritative that he hated for all his life. He was guilty, his words, the sin of omission, the evil of inaction. Unfortunately, the evil we have ever supported in our lives.


Interesting information

Although there were no statistical differences (judging from the tests we mentioned at the beginning) between the guards and the prisoners, certain individuals did not differ in many ways. The two most hated and bad guards differed from each other in masculinity. While one of them had the greatest strenght of all the participants, which could be expected, the other was strenght the smallest.

The prisoners, who endured the experiment to the end, showed twice the greater values of adaptation to authority, rigidity, adherence to conventional values, conformity, Extrovert, and empathy than those who left the experiment.

Several times during the experiment, fill Probanda’s questionnaires about their own feelings. Almost all of them showed more negative feelings than positive ones. The prisoners then even three times more. But one overseer, who was designated as worthy, had the most negative feelings of all involved!

Despite expectations, prisoners were not amused about their hobbies, personal lives, sports, girlfriends, or school. They talked about food, obtrusing, the Committee on complaints, plans to escape, and the behavior of other prisoners. In fact, they did not recognize their colleagues thoroughly in the whole time. Perhaps, therefore, 85% of the nearby prisoners ‘ evaluations were negative. Basically, there was an identification with the aggressor. The concept was first enjoyed by Anna Freud, but psychologist Bruno Bettelheim became famous. This is the same situation as the prisoners in Nazi concentration camps began acting as peacekeepers–they made uniforms and bullieded other prisoners.

The prisoners thought that the peacekeepers were physically larger and more proficient, although there was no statistically significant difference between them.

The last interesting thing I mention is increased the aggression of the peacekeepers when accompanied by prisoners to the toilet. Although the warden stepped out of crowd anonymity and left the premises of prison, the prisoners were waiting for the most cruel punishments.

After a few weeks, the meeting of “class 1971” was held, on which most of the guards apologized for their behavior. The Zimbardo itself, however, was publicly and officially apologized in his last book (Zimbardo, 2014).

Why did this happen?

You’re probably a bit shocked now and are chasing you in your head questions like: How can this happen? Why did Zimbardo let this go? How would I be?

Zimbardo tried to prove that the situation alone could motivate otherwise good people to perpetrate evil. He certainly succeeded. Within a few days, prisoners became helpless and passive people. Conversely, the guards began to behave negatively, hostilely and inhumanely. Why?

This has helped many aspects of role playing and their subsequent internalisation. Only peacekeepers and inmates played their role, but all those involved in the experiment–even postgraduate students, advisor Carlo, the priest, the lawyer, the parents, and the Zimbardo. You may have heard of an experiment in which the health of people played fools. They said they heard voices and were therefore hospitalized in psychiatry. Although they behaved quite normally and pleasantly, psychologists have not changed their diagnosis. They got out of jail until lawyers and people also got the testimonial of “schizophrenia in remission.” (Zimbardo, 2014) Once they assigned a role to them, and they were not able to break away from it. But the Role also encourages depriving of its own responsibility. It’s a mask that gives us an alibi. Remember the defense of Nazi criminals who just obeyed orders. Likewise, our peacekeepers responded – “They just played their roles to please Zimbardo.”

The concept of obedience to the authority I detail discussed in another article (Lacko, 2014, available here) is also linked to the transfer of responsibility. In short, it is a tendency to deprive yourself of the responsibility for the perpetrated evil towards the authority – in our case to Zimbardo.

Another aspect is undoubtedly group thinking. Group thinking is a concept created by Irving Janis (1971), who argues that when we are in a closed group, we often decide to irrationally because we lack the feedback from the outside. Social approval is only enhanced by this decision.

Group thinking goes hand in hand with infrahumanizačním distortion, which explains the behavior when one group feels superior to others. One example of history, when the US was sterilized against its will by 65 thousand of the citizen in the name of higher good – eugenics. And I forgive not even the well – known experiment of the teacher Rona Jones (1978) called the Third Wave (whose motive was dramatized an interesting film by our leader) – he told his class that they were exceptional and they began to behave quickly as well. In one day they began to despise others.

The concept of conformity is also related to the group. Conformity examined Soloman Asch (1951), who made an experiment in which he submitted different lengths of straight lines to one proband and six actors. They were the right ones at first, but then they all answered badly. Only one-quarter of the people were able to withstand the pressure of the neighborhood, not adapting, and answering correctly. Like our peacekeepers. The active evil was’t made by everyone, but no one stopped him. No one was protesting. This brings me to the next point, namely the evil inaction.

The evil inactivity, or the effect of the Watcher (Bystander effect), is inspired by the famous case of Kitty Genovese, which has been attacked. Infestation allegedly (today this number is often criticized) account 38 witnesses. The assassin returned several times, a woman robbed, raped, and finally killed. No one intervened. No one called the police. Simply put, the more people the evil looks at, the less likely someone hits. (Darley and Latané, 1968) Again, the delegation of authority and anonymity works here.

Aggressive behavior also explains the notions of anonymity, the depersonalisation of peacekeepers, and the dehumanization of prisoners. Anonymity promotes aggression because of the evil I do not perpetrate personally, but someone vague. Cultural anthropologist R. J. Watson (1973) analyzed the behavior of soldiers and found that anonymous soldiers (in masks) are much harsher and kills more innocent. Dehumanization or depriving humanity facilitates the execution of evil. Even our peacekeepers admitted that the prisoners sometimes considered themselves as cattle. The prisoners became inferior.

Dehumanizaci allow defensive mechanisms of intelektualizace, denial and isolation of emotions. Dehumanizated relations are objective, analytical and free of emotion and empathy. I mention the familiar experiment with intellektualisation (Speisman et al., 1964), in which the people were released a brutal video of ritual circumcision. One group saw him with a dramatic escort highlighting pain, another only with music accompaniment, the control group saw the video without sound and the last group with intellectual commentary emphasizing the importance of the ritual. The last group, unlike the others, felt the minimum of negative emotions.

Cognitive dissonance, a concept made famous by Leon Festinger (1957), will then help us rationalize the evil. Cognitive dissonanceism arises from a contradiction between behavior and thinking. So, if we behave contrary to our beliefs, we can either change our behavior or think. You probably know which change is lighter…

You’re probably shaking your head now, and you’re saying you’d be different. That you would fight evil, or at least wouldn’t stand by. Especially for you I have another psychological phenomenon. Called. Self-serving bias. e.g. Larson, 1977) 90% of drivers think it’s above average. This number can be converted basically to anything. Most people think that it is above-average intelligent, although statistically we know that it is not possible. Most people think that they would succumb pressure in the vicinity, even in this case, and that they would fight evil. Unfortunately, most are wrong.

Criticism of the experiment

Of course, the most prominent criticism was in the name of ethics. And this experiment was really ethical. Five people were mentally collapsed and had to step out of the experiment. The rest of it wasn’t much better. Of course, we can refer to the level of goodness, to the effort of science to explore the mysterious corners of the human psyche, but the individuals who participated in the experiment genuinely suffered. The ethical page of the case is therefore rightly criticised (e.g. Savin, 1973; O’Toole, 1997).

Another legitimate criticism fell on the ecological validity experiment, that is, at his testimony value. The prison was not a faithful replica of a real prison. Many aspects have not only been missed, but a lot of things have also been added (eg. From, 1997).

The evaluation of the experiment was strongly subjective – despite the effort ZimbardO of impartiality. Erich from (1997) criticized the Zimardo conclusion that the individual’s personality has a decisive influence on the environment in which he is located – that was contrary to his theories – and he explained it to Zimbardovo poor interpretation of the results. The subjective interpretation of the results was criticised by more experts (e.g. Somers, 2009) and the methodology of this experiment is considerably leaked.

McFarland and Carnahan (2007) criticized the so-called Selection bias. In their experiment they created the same leaflet as had Zimbardo (hence there was the notion of “prison environment”) and the second control, in which this was mentioned (instead, there was only a “psychological experiment”). The first was reported by statistically more people of the dominant, aggressive, and authoritarian and less people of empathic and altruistic than in the control group. So it is quite probable that the selection of respondents has already Zimbardo wrong.

Then she criticized the effort to meet the Zimbardo. Or. Zimbardovy instructions which, as a result, not only approved cruelty, but often solicits (Gray, 2013). Most people expect to behave aggressively in such a role (Griggs, 2014). Moreover, when Zimbardo was silent when abusing prisoners, essentially inhuman behavior allowed (Gray, 2013). One of the guards later commented that he felt that Zimbardo tension was on purpose (Ratnesar, 2011). A prison counselor Carlo (Prescott, 2005) also raised a similar criticism.

Dunning (2008) criticized even generality statements. Too small a number of respondents. Apart from the fact that the same individuals were still engaged and organized most of the evils.

Ribkoff (2013) He described the whole experiment as an absurd pseudoexperiment. And even the methodology itself did not avoid criticism (eg. Banuazizi and Movahedi from 1975).
Repeat an experiment

A certain part of criticism is carried in the form of comparison with the most famous recorded repetition of the experiment conducted for the BBC in December 2002 by psychologists Haslam and Reicher (2003, 2006, 2006b, 2012), and which presents somewhat different results than the Zimbardo study. The experiment did not try to make an exact replica of the original experiment, but tried to answer the questions that the original experiment provoked.

This experiment came into history known as the BBC Prison Stud. 15 Men (5 peacekeepers, 10 prisoners) were to be examined within ten days. But the Experiment lasted only 8 days. Like Zimbardo they were in a fictional prison. But the prisoners were consciously watched all the time. In fact, they participated in the reality TV show. The peacekeepers were fully take their roles, did not systematically cooperate, and there was no serious conflict in the end. Paradoxically, they were prisoners who controlled jail (after three days they started collaborating, because they were told that they could become peacekeepers, the sixth day essentially overthrew peacekeepers) and the peacekeepers who suffered.

The authors of this experiment come up with their own explanations – applying a SIT (Social identity theory – Social identity theory, today it is most often used by its modification – the self-categorization theory), which was first forge by psychologists Henri Tajfel and John Turner (1979). The theory argues that people naturally categorize others and themselves into groups to gain their own social identity. Most people, however, require a positive social identity and therefore search for groups that are themselves positive. Otherwise, if a person is a member of a negative group, the individual mobility defence mechanism will work, when the individual is simply not identified with the group. Which is logically contrary to Zimbardo research.

Zimbardo (2006) does not agree with this interpretation, and its criticism is supported by the lesser-known repetition of the experiment, which in turn Zimbardo the findings rather confirmed. One such experiment was conducted in Australia (Lovibond et al., 1979) and the second simulated the situation in a psychiatric hospital in the American state of Illinois (Orlando, 1973). It is difficult to stand on either side of this dispute. Both is beneficial and equally interesting. And both’s methodologically very poor, some would say unscientific.

Who bears the blame?


Zimbardo (2014, p. 522) wrote that “the person is an actor on the stage of life, whose freedom of behavior is shaped by its founding – genetic, biological, physical and psychological. The situation is a context of behavior that has the power to give meaning and identity to the actor’s role and status, through its reward, and normative functions. The system consists of factors and organisations whose ideology, values and power create situations and determine the roles and expectations for the approved behaviour of actors within its spheres of influence. ” In her lecture for TED (Zimbardo, 2009), explain his metaphor for apples and a barrel. It argues that apples (i.e. human disposition, such as genetics and temperament) can already be inherently rotten, however when we put healthy apples into the wrong barrel (that is, the situation), rot also the good. But we must go even further if we the culprit, because the barrel was produced by someone (the system). So who bears the blame?

It is necessary to realize that the effort to understand pathological behavior is not an apology. Just as it is necessary to believe in the free choice of man and responsibility for their behavior, in which it is essentially punishing the right. The culprit, however, is not just a rotten apple, which can often not, as we try to impose on our individually focused company, but also poorly made barrel and manufacturer, for their rot. If we convert the metaphor into our experiment, we are responsible not only for peacekeepers, but also the power of the prison environment and the creator, Zimbardo.

One example of practice, in 2006, was the unveiling of the unbelievable and inhumane torture of prisoners of American soldiers in Abu Ghraib. In this prison, the guards were not only torturing and bullieding the prisoners, but they digitized. Only one man found the courage to come out with it. Everyone else was either tortured or silent. Photos that are full of the internet are conspicuous, as they are similar to photos from the prison experiment. But why I write about it, while the company condemned individual apples, no one thought about the situation and accuse the creator of the situation, namely the general and the President. The system remained spoiled and still waiting for the apples to rot in it.

How to resist or heroism

Albert Einstein allegedly said that “the world will not be destroyed by those who commit evil, but those who look at it without doing anything.” Edmund Burke, the British statesman and philosopher, said this: “The only thing that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.” Whatever we have begun negatively and pessimistic, believe me that everyone can do good as well, as everyone can do evil. The choice is up to us.

But we should first define evil. Its definition is complex, because what is bad for one company may be good for another. Therefore, many suicide bombers in their domovinách are hailed. Therefore, the conflict of good and evil is endless. However, Zimbardo tried to do it (2014, p. 29): “Evil is a deliberate conduct which aims to harm, abuse, humiliate, deprive humanity or destroy other innocent people, or, by means of official power or system resources, to encourage others to or allow them to do so. In short: Evil is to know about other options of behavior, but behave badly. ”
About heroes each of us read heroic novels, heard incredible stories and saw a lot of films in which winning brave soldiers, genetically predisposed superheroes, etc. All this creates the illusion that we can only stand as a hero, assuming our own disposition. It’s not like that. In contrast, the banality of evil is pablum good. Photo Left-5. June, 1989, Tiananmen Square in Beijing. A brave man going out of business will build tanks. Is this a prototype of a literary hero? Not nearly.

He was probably a man like everyone else. The person you can stand for. The Zimbardo (2014) describes a ten-step guide to help you withstand the surrounding pressures. It’s basically the ten formulas that you have to say and believe in them:

I made a mistake
I observant
I am responsible
I am a unique
I appreciate righteous authority, by storming against the authority of the unfair
I want to be accepted by the group but I appreciate my independence
I’ll be more vigilant to framing
I maintain my time perspective in balance (the presence is not the most important, you must consider the future responsibilities and past commitments)
Sacrifice personal and civil liberties for the Illusion of safety
I can defy unfair systems.
It sounds absurdly, but I can ‘t be more than approved to emphasize my own responsibility. Like adamant, I believe in freedom, I believe in accountability. In a lecture, Zimbardo told students to draw a black dot on his forehead and walk with her all day long. (Ludwig, 2014) After a while, they are accustomed to the annoying glances, and this is said to be the best training to resist the conformal and social influences that often hinder us from doing good and forcing us to take the evils into account.

In other words, you need to step out of comfortable comfort zone if you want to become a hero. Like Christina, who built Zimbardovi, you too can build evil. And this is also the final message of this path that you have taken with me. Journeys during which you understand that even a good man can do evil things. Journeys, during which you may have realized that ordinary people like us are committing heinous deeds, and that the potential to do good and evil is in every man. A journey that may have helped you to make the next evil intolerant and become heroes. The choice is yours. And I wish many forces to all who will at least try. We still need heroes.


The article is taken from the site

Author: David Lacko

Original article here

A similar nice article about the fact that evil people are often the fruit of evil society writes very nicely About polarization and about how people love their bubbles.

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