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My Journey From Evil to Heroism

In the 1970’s Social Psychologist Philip Zimbardo changed how we perceive of Evil with “The Stanford Prison Experiment”. Here, he tells his story of how to travel from “From Evil to Heroism”. www.heroicimagination.org
by Philip Zimbardo on 8 April 2013

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Transcript of My Journey From Evil to Heroism

- Dehumanization

- Diffusion of responsibility

- Obedience to authority

- Unjust systems

- Group pressure

- Power and control

- Moral disengagement

- Anonymity/ de-individuation - Leadership?

- Sacrifice?

- Courage?

- Knowledge?

- Awareness of future? The line good and evil center of every This line shifts What will you do?... These aren't just concepts, this is life William James Prize Winner My Lucifer Effect is a
celebration of the human mind's infinite capacity to make us behave... Kind or Cruel

Caring or Indifferent

Creative or Destructive

And make us Villains or Heroes Two very dangerous questions, asked by Stanley Milgram in the 1960's (my high school classmate in the Bronx):

1. Would YOU electrocute a stranger if someone asked you to?

2. Could the holocaust occur again? The Dalai Lama believes Compassion will save the world.

I ask if compassion alone is sufficient in a world filled with Evil?

Compassion as a private virtue must be transformed into heroic action. It must be socially engaged. Hint: it's on this side Why do ordinary people turn evil? What makes ordinary people do heroic deeds? - Mindfulness?

- Compassion?

- Empathy?

- Morality? We do not know, there's very little research on heroism. dividing cuts through the human heart. inside us...

- Conducting new research on the nature of heroism

- Creating in-class and online educational curricula for students and teachers in middle school through University

- Developing corporate initiatives to promote cultures of integrity and heroic leadership programs for organizations

- Engaging the public with interactive and community exercises and resources via the HIP web site, and soon, with our Hero app I grew up in the South Bronx, NY asking questions about my friends I always wanted to know whether the line between good and evil is fixed and impermeable; are good people -- like us and our kind -- safe from crossing over to the bad side?

Or is it permeable, allowing flow across that boundary in both directions -- so that good people can turn evil and evil doers can again be good. The image of Lucifer indicates that if the best angel in the universe could become the devil then it should not be difficult to transform ordinary, normal, good people - like most of you - into perpetrators of small evils. Evil is the exercise of power to intentionally:

- HARM (psychologically),

- HURT (physically),

- DESTROY (mortally), and

- COMMIT CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY (via genocide by nations)

In corporations: allowing fraud, corruption, bullying, indifference, willful blindness What is Evil? Nurture over Nature:
The Fingerprint of Poverty - Adults who grew up in poverty show
changes in the "programming" of their
DNA that may be linked to later health
problems such as obesity, diabetes, and
autoimmune diseases, researchers have
found.

- There is a link between a person's early
economic hardships and the biochemistry
of their DNA. That turns genes up or down,
meaning they become more or less activated,
a phenomenon known as epigenetics.

- In this sense, poverty kills life. Participants answered this ad 75 applicants took personality tests, and interviews.

The 24 most normal, healthy; randomly assigned Prisoners were given smocks and assigned number IDs Guards were given military uniforms, with symbols of power and anonymity, like reflective sunglasses Initial menial tasks escalate daily to more humiliating and degrading... Prisoners often stripped naked, sexually taunted, and sexually degraded First prisoner 8612 broke down from extreme stress reactions in 36 hours, and was released -- and then abuse by guards worsened daily -- until 5 prisoners had to be released.

I ended the projected 2-week study after only 6 days! It had spun out of control Real world parallels SPE and Abu Ghraib So, what does it take to be a hero? - Being special, unique, gifted?
- NO!

- Heroes are usually ordinary, everyday people whose actions in challenging situations are extraordinary Rosa Parks Seamstress, First Lady of Civil Rights in the United States. Refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, arrested, protested, started movement of desegregation of buses and trains She became a prisoner of the state #7053

"I was not tired. The only tired I was, was tired of giving in." - President and Founder: phil@heroicimagination.org
- Vice President: erik@heroicimagination.org
- Director of Education: clint@heroicimagination.org
- Director of Corporate Initiatives: michael@heroicimagination.org

Thanks!
HIP Team Christina Maslach Christina Maslach, August 18, 1971; after seeing guards abuse prisoners told me:

"It's terrible what YOU are doing to those boys."

We had just started dating, she added:
"YOU have changed; I don't want to continue our relationship if this is the real you."

She forced me to acknowledge the cruelty and inhumanity that I had allowed as my role as the SPE Prison Superintendent.

I ended the experiment the next day and I married her the next year; and we lived happily ever after! Since then I've given up evil; no more dining in hell. I will only promote goodness and heroism in
my new life! New conception of heroes - DEMOCRATIZE: Anyone can be a hero

- DEMYSTIFY: No special inner qualities are essential, or specific family background

- DIFFUSE: Away from solo heroes to team or ensemble heroes, working in networks

- DIVERSIFY: Replace "Whistleblowers" with "Integrity Heroes," encouraged and rewarded to challenge fraud and wrong-doing from within businesses and institutions Heroes - Act on behalf of others in need or in defense of a moral cause

- Aware of risks to life, finances, or career

- Act without expectation of tangible reward

- Usually modest and humble, who usually disown the hero label

* Altruism is great, but it's heroism lite, because there is no danger/ risk involved What can
you do? When ONE person stops to help in an emergency many others join in, so.... Start with small steps, everyday... - FOCUS ON OTHERS - make them feel special, for example give a compliment every day to someone

- Ask questions, understand the situation, challenge

- Don't blindly obey rules, orders, or leaders

- Have COURAGEOUS CONVERSATIONS before situations get out of control - with friends, parents, co-workers, bosses

- What's your RIPPLE EFFECT? Every action (and inaction) counts - Power of 1: BE THAT PERSON

- Power of 2: be an ALLY, support those in need

- Power of many: create hero squads

- Dare to be different: practice being a positive deviant

- Act socially: wisely, well, and often Individual Situational Systemic Personal disposition - "Bad apples" Social and physical environment - "Bad barrel" Organizational influences, political, economic, cultural, and legal - "Bad barrel makers" The Evil of INACTION:
The Bystander Effect - Individuals do not offer to help a person in need when other people are present
- The greater the number of bystanders, the less likely people are to offer help
- Diffusion of responsibility is the principle operating
- Others define situation as: Take NO action. DO NOT GET INVOLVED
- But YOU must transform knowledge into personal pro-social action. HIP's Education Modules We teach:
- The Bystander Effect
- Obedience to Authority
- Peer Pressure
- Group dynamics
- Prejudice, stereotyping

All our programs are based on social psychology research. Evil is more fun! "When you look at the dark side, careful you must be... for the dark side looks back." www.heroicimagination.org What We Do To get involved in our hero projects, check out the website. Contact us below: What makes good people go wrong? EVIL My Journey Heroism From to Phil Zimbardo
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