Whatmake people go wrong? – Philip Zimbardo The psychology of evil
Accordingto Philip Zimbardo, there is a line between good and evil. However,bad or evil people can still be redeemed. His definition of evil isthat it is exercising power with the aim of harming other peoplephysically, psychologically and emotionally. Throughout hispresentation, Philip Zimbardo uses several examples as case studiesto show how transformation is possible from good to evil andvice-versa. This essay will highlight some of the environmentalcontributors to mistreat of prisoners, thoughts on faults and theconcept of heroism as is described by Philip Zimbardo.
Accordingto Philip Zimbardo, some of the environmental factors thatcontributed to maltreat of POWS include blind obedience to authority,passive tolerance of evil and anonymity among others. For example, hegives a case of a pastor who killed 912 people by successfullyconvincing followers to commit suicide after murdering theirfamilies. This shows how blind obedience can be dangerous infacilities or institutions tasked with handling prisoners of war.Additionally, as was the case of the Stanford Prison experiment andothers described by Philip Zimbardo, there is also some level oftolerance to evil that is exhibited by most characters (Gino &Ariely, 2015).
Thefault is also the victim of evil or good in Philip Zimbardo’spresentation. Before seeing the video, I did not have a clear pictureof what people are capable of doing when they have been pushed to thelimit or given power over others. I often believed that there is someelement of goodness in every person which cannot be passed. However,after seeing the presentation, it is evident that even good peoplecan turn bad depending on circumstance or situations. Additionally,from an individual`s perspective, only the perpetrators had freewill. Victims were at their mercies. In Stanford Prison experiment,for instance, the victims were not aware that they were justparticipants in a study.
Psychiatricdiagnosis looks at several factors or conditions that affect thenormal functioning of the human brain. Philip Zimbardo`s experimentson the psychology of evil, for example, the Stanford Prisonexperiment evaluates how the environment can influence humanbehavior. In this case, it is evident that most people tend toconform to their surroundings (Haslam & Reicher, 2012). Forexample, when surrounded by bad people or leader, even those who aregood suddenly conform.
Thefive prisoners who broke down during the study are likely to bediagnosed with nervous breakdowns which normally occurs when oneexperiences sudden, extreme and prolonged stress. Victims normallyexperience worry, fear, anxiety, and nervousness. Treatment fornervous breakdown include medications such as anxiety tablets andantidepressants and cognitive behavior therapy alongside lifestylemodifications. Lastly, one heroic experience that I have had was whenI helped an old woman cross the road. Although it was a simple act,considering the risks and the fact that many people passed by withouteven noticing the need for such action, I consider myself a herobecause I did the right thing and opted not to ignore the old women.
AsPhilip Zimbardo puts it in his presentation titled “Thepsychology of evil”Several factors affect human behavior and how they interact with eachother. The different studies and experiments done by Zimbardo showthat everyone as the potential of becoming either good or bad person.Environmental factors such as blind obedience to authority, passivetolerance of evil and anonymity play a critical role in definingcharacters.
Gino,F., & Ariely, D. (2015). Dishonesty explained: what leads moralpeople to act immorally.
Haslam,S. A., & Reicher, S. D. (2012). Contesting the "Nature"of Conformity: What Milgram and Zimbardo`s studies show. PLoSBiol, 10(11),e1001426.