Huffington Post Features Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Famed Revealer of Systemic and Situational Factors Involved in the Emergence of “Evil” and HeroismTuesday, March 12th, 2013
Last week, The Huffington Post featured someone whose name should always be in the mix when discussing ponerology: Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., a man who has spent much of his life investigating the science of what makes people act in ways we might deem “good” vs. “evil.”
In our recent piece about Dr. James Fallon, we discussed the three ingredients that Fallon believes are required for the creation of a psychopathic killer.
- Certain structural and functional characteristics of the brain
- Certain variants of particular genes
- An environment that triggers the expression of these biological predispositions
While psychopathic killers can cause great harm to a certain number of people, they are relatively rare. The greater danger, from the perspective of society at large, is the emergence of “evil” on a broader scale within systems. And, as Andrew M. Lobaczewski makes clear in Political Ponerology, for that to happen, not only must people with disorders other than psychopathy be drawn into harmful activities, but so must some percentage of biologically healthy, normal people.
Zimbardo’s work has primarily focused on investigating how this latter event occurs – how everyday, average people can end up participating in destructive events.
Zimbardo has been a psychology professor at Stanford University for over forty years. He is best known for leading the team that conducted what has come to be known as the Stanford prison experiment back in 1971. (more…)