The Lucifer Effect Understanding How Good People Turn Evil PDF Download Free

The Lucifer Effect Understanding How Good People Turn Evil PDF

Attributes of The Lucifer Effect Understanding How Good People Turn Evil PDF

The definitive firsthand account of the groundbreaking research of Philip Zimbardo—the basis for the award-winning film The Stanford Prison Experiment The Lucifer Effect Understanding How Good People Turn Evil PDF

Renowned social psychologist and creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment Philip Zimbardo explores the mechanisms that make good people do bad things, how moral people can be seduced into acting immorally, and what this says about the line separating good from evil.

The Lucifer Effect 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.

Here, for the first time and in detail, Zimbardo tells the full story of the Stanford Prison Experiment, the 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 college 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 Jerusalem and Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, The Lucifer Effect is a shocking, engrossing study that will change the way we view human behavior.

Praise for The Lucifer Effect

The Lucifer Effect will change forever the way you think about why we behave the way we do—and, in particular, about the human potential for evil. This is a disturbing book, but one that has never been more necessary.”—Malcolm Gladwell

“An important book . . . All politicians and social commentators . . . should read this.”The Times (London)

“Powerful . . . an extraordinarily valuable addition to the literature of the psychology of violence or ‘evil.’”The American Prospect

“Penetrating . . . Combining a dense but readable and often engrossing exposition of social psychology research with an impassioned moral seriousness, Zimbardo challenges readers to look beyond glib denunciations of evil-doers and ponder our collective responsibility for the world’s ills.”Publishers Weekly

“A sprawling discussion . . . Zimbardo couples a thorough narrative of the Stanford Prison Experiment with an analysis of the social dynamics of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.”Booklist

“Zimbardo bottled evil in a laboratory. The lessons he learned show us our dark nature but also fill us with hope if we heed their counsel. The Lucifer Effect reads like a novel.”—Anthony Pratkanis, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology, University of California

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The Writers

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 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, is visited by millions every year. Visit the author’s personal website at

Proportions of The Lucifer Effect Understanding How Good People Turn Evil PDF

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 22, 2008)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 576 pages
  • International Standard Book Number-10 ‏ : ‎ 0812974441
  • International Standard Book Number-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0812974447
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.21 inches

Reviews From Customers

Ned D Ferguson
There are no Good Apples
June 17, 2019

It’s hard to know precisely what Zimbardo believes his research shows, since he is so adept at shifting his rhetoric in midstream. I think it serves to hide his inconsistencies. I actually think this is a good book with many keen observations. The problem is its inadequate view of human nature. When Zimbardo is most forceful, his analysis is approximately as follows: There are no bad apples, only bad barrels. Bad apples (people who behave badly) are actually “good apples” that are corrupted by bad barrels (bad systems or circumstances.)

He then somewhat contradicts himself by saying that he doesn’t mean people are not responsible for their actions, only that the outside forces acting on them should be considered in evaluating their guilt. I do agree with this. People do not exist in a vacuum and mitigating circumstances should always be considered. We should be able to empathize with other human beings without completely excusing them. But how is this different from the way it has always been? Defense attorneys ALWAYS talk about any mitigating factors that their imaginations can concoct. (He was intoxicated, abused, temporarily insane, on psychotropic drugs, just following orders, had a bad day, etc.) See almost anything written by Theodore Dalrymple (please!)

My own view is that there are no good apples, only varying degrees of bad ones, i.e. total human depravity. This view best comports with reality. Our innate badness lurks beneath the surface just waiting for life-pressures to reveal (not create) it. That is also why virtue is so very important to cultivate, revere, and practice on a regular basis. One cannot do this from a philosophically materialist or purely secular perspective. Judging the totality of the statements Zimbardo makes, I think he knows this. But he nevertheless cannot ultimately resist seeing human beings as products of inputs and outputs. This makes for a rather schizophrenic (no pun intended) book. He evidently sees humans as basically good but subject to corruption by forces beyond our control. The rest of the book serves as a rationalization and justification of this inaccurate view, leading to contradictions.

“One thesis of this book is that most of us know ourselves only from our limited experiences in familiar situations that involve rules, laws, policies, and pressures that constrain us.”

What, exactly, is being “constrained” and why is said constraint necessary if people are basically “good apples?”

Taking realistic stock of universal human depravity leads to a healthy perspective, since it enables us to see that what we consider (extreme) evil is merely an exaggerated extrapolation of that which lurks within us all. Such a perspective eliminates the stark good-evil dichotomy to which many of us hold and helps us to remember our common lot… Brokenness.
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Reviewer 613
Murderers and thieves are amongst author’s heroes
October 19, 2021

I wanted to read this book for years and finally ordered it. While glancing through the book, I noticed a section towards the end where the author highlighted his examples of “heroes.” Amongst those profiled were people like Mother Theresa, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, Thomas Edison, Harriet Tubman, Buddha, Holocaust rescuers and . . . Mohammed. My idea of a hero is not someone who subjugates, steals, murders, and enslaves. I’m putting my money and time elsewhere.

Alyssa D.
One of the most powerful books I’ve ever read
October 25, 2018

I first studied Zimbardo and the Stanford Prison Emperiment as a Psych undergrad at Harvard, and now as an adult in graduate studies, it takes on new life. Horribly, terrifyingly applicable here in 2018. I vomited once (Rape of Rwanda) and cried multiple times reading these stories. 10/10 recommend.

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