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Budapest - Evil to Heroism 2014


Philip Zimbardo

on 22 April 2016

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Transcript of Budapest - Evil to Heroism 2014

My Journey From Creating Evil to Inspiring Heroism
Phil Zimbardo
- Dehumanization

- Diffusion of responsibility

- Obedience to authority

- Unjust systems

- Group pressure

- Power and control

- Moral disengagement

- Anonymity/ de-individuation
- Courage?

- Awareness of future?

- Mindfulness?

- Compassion?

- Empathy?

- Morality?
The line
good and evil
center of every
This line shifts
What will YOU do?...
These aren't just concepts, this is LIFE
Do you take your friends' keys or let them drive drunk?
How will your decisions
affect others? Who's making
decisions that affect you?

Will you give in to peer
pressure and conform?

Will you speak out against or accept corruption?
Dispositional Evil
Banality of evil in words and deeds: Norwegian killer
Anders Breivik
Systemic Evil
He murdered 69 children swimming at camp.

"I am a laid-back type and quite tolerant on most issues... All my friends can attest to, I wouldn't be willing to hurt a fly, and I never used violence against others."
- China kills 1 million of its men annually!

- How? Encouraging them to smoke. 54% of men smoke, 320 million smoke regularly.

- Why? Earnings = 605 billion yuan

- Government prevents anti-smoking campaigns; there is state controlled monopoly.

- Slogans on many schools in rural China promote the use of tobacco...
Outside the Sichuan Tobacco Primary School, where the plaque reads "Ingenuity is the fruit of diligence - Tobacco will help you succeed."
William James Prize Winner
My Lucifer
Effect is a
of the human mind's
capacity to
make us
Kind or Cruel

Caring or Indifferent

Creative or Destructive

And make some of us Villains or Heroes
Two very dangerous questions:

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

2. Could the Holocaust occur again?
YES - the shocking answer by Stanley Milgram, 1962

He conducted the first research that quantified a form of evil by measuring the degree to which the average person would deliver painful shocks to an innocent stranger on the orders of an authority figure.
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
Do you keep the rumor going?
Will you be a passive bystander or will you help?
Why do ordinary people turn evil?
What makes ordinary people do heroic deeds?
We do not know, there's very little research on heroism.
cuts through the
human heart.
inside us...
I grew up in the South Bronx, New York asking questions about my friends
What makes good people go wrong?
Poverty is SYSTEMIC EVIL: the inner city ghetto life breeds a seductive evil for kids of a world filled with easy sex, drugs, gangs, violence, criminal activities, and hustlers

It is growing in the United States and everywhere in the world.
20% of all children now live and die in poverty -- a global disgrace!
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 Evildoers can again be Good?
The image of Lucifer indicates that if the best angel in Heaven 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
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

- 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
Before we go any further,
let's discuss a few myths
Now, a reality check
Listen to why he did this research on
blind obedience to authority...
The "Learner" getting strapped into the electric chair apparatus - he is the confederate of the researcher.
The Experimenter as the authority directs the "Teacher" how to shock his student - who verbally dissents, but behaviorally obeys
All EVIL begins with 15 volts
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
The iconic image of torture
and dehumanization
April, 28, 2004:
TV Expose of horrific images, U.S. military prison guards torturing Iraqi prisoners, men and women guards, putting themselves in the photos, and laughing.
Military and Bush Administration blamed it on a few "Bad Apples"

My hypothesis: OUR soldiers were GOOD; their BARREL was BAD; the situation had corrupted them. I became an expert witness to defend one MP guard, Sgt. Chip Frederick
Schlessinger Report Concludes
Page xii of "Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody," Report of the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, 110th Congress, 2nd Session, November 20, 2008
"The abuse of detainees in U.S. Custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own.

The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees."
Schlessinger Report Concludes
- "Psychologists have attempted to understand how and why individuals and groups who usually act humanely can sometimes act otherwise in certain circumstances." This is The Lucifer Effect.

It should have been so!
"Bad Apple" vs "Bad Barrel" Sgt. Chip Frederick
Pre-Abu Ghraib
Honored soldier
In the barrel
Post-Abu Ghraib
Good guy
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

- Listen to what President Obama says about standing up and speaking out, and the ripple effect of our actions...
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."
Claudette Colvin
9 months BEFORE Rosa Parks became a civil rights hero, this 15 year-old student challenged bus segregation by refusing to yield her seat to a white woman.

She was thought to be too emotional for a hero role. Parks was then systematically TRAINED in civil disobedience to act wisely.
To get involved in our hero projects,
check out the website:
Lin Hao
In 2008 when a massive earthquake destroyed his classroom, killing most students,
this 9 year-old "dutiful" hero returned twice to the building to save surviving classmates.

Pvt. MP Darby: Pro-active hero of Abu Ghraib
Whistleblower; he did the right thing when others were doing the wrong thing - stopped the Abu Ghraib abuses by exposing the photos to a senior officer - aware of the potential negative personal consequences.
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.
7 Enemies of Heroism
Since then I've given up Evil; no more dining in Hell. I will only promote goodness and Heroism in my new life!
Non-profit Org teaching people to
Promoting a New Conception of Heroes
DEMOCRATIZE: Anyone can be a hero
he·ro, n. \hir-()ō\
1. a: Act on behalf of others in need or in defense
of a moral cause

b: Aware of risks to life, finances, or career

c: Usually modest and humble, who usually
disown the hero label
Why we need Heroes?
- To shift the social norm from passive compliance to
pro-social action

- True heroes put their best selves forward in service to humanity

- Their sacrifices challenge pseudo-heroes: celebrities, athletes, fabricated heroes, and fantasy super heroes

- They represent ideals we can all aspire to

- Heroes are the force of good that opposes Evil in all its many forms -- both perpetrators of the Evil of Action, and the Evils of Inaction revealed in public apathy and indifference...
Next: scenes of Bystander Apathy and public inaction from a British TV program, "The Human Zoo," which I helped create
A recent horrific example of the bystander effect in China of a toddler being run over and 18 people passing her by -- resulted in the proposal of The Good Samaritan Law
Wesley Autry
NYC subway Reactive/ Impulsive hero
- 75 other passengers on the platform who only watched as he acted to save a life of a stranger who had fallen across the train tracks

- Had good reason not to -- he was with his two young daughters, who would be orphans if he failed

- Afterward he said: "I did what anyone could do, and
HIP's first student hero Philip Johnson
- Riding a public bus

- Boy with severe allergies starts to have an asthma attack

- Passengers say stop irritating us, throw him off the bus

- Philip finds out what is wrong - the boy doesn't have his inhaler

- Makes bus driver stop at a pharmacy, buys inhaler, helps the kid survive
Does it work?
Research evidence of class effectiveness
Pre and post measures of changes in

- Information acquired

- Attitudes, values, self-esteem

- Behavior reports: students, teachers, parents

- Reduction: bullying, violence, crime, drop-out rates
What can
YOU do?
When ONE person stops to help in an emergency many others join in, so....
Start with small steps, everyday...

- Ask questions, understand the situation, challenge "the rules"

- Don't blindly obey authority, practice mindful disobedience

- What is your "Ripple Effect"? Your actions (and inactions) make a difference, have an impact on others
6. Heroes are born as special people
5. Evil is the Devil's work by a few "bad apples"
4. IQ is genetically inherited and determines success in life
3. Personality is fully formed by adolescence
2. Brain's neurons are fixed at birth
1. You can't change human nature
- Power of 1: BE THAT PERSON

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

- Power of Many: create pro-social networks -- "HERO SQUADS"

- Dare to be Different: practice being a "positive deviant"

- Act Socially: be socio-centric, not ego-centric. Act wisely, well, and often
Psychiatrists predicted only 1% - the sadists - would go all the way
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
Personal disposition - "Bad apples"
Social and physical environment -
"Bad barrel"
Organizational influences, political, economic, cultural, and legal - "Bad barrel makers"
In a National Probability Sample of 4,000 people
- One in five (20%) qualify as Heroes: 800
- Opportunity matters: Urban > Rurual
- Education matters: more educated > no college
- Volunteering matters: 1/3 of heroes are also volunteers
- Surviving disaster/ trauma: 3x more likely to be a hero and/ or a volunteer
- Race/ ethnicity matters:
Blacks are 2x > Whites
Hispanics 2x > Whites
- All measures valid after controlling for education, SES, and other demographic facotrs
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
- Now this new knowledge OBLIGATES you to act wisely as a social change agent
HIP's Educational Interventions
Designed to engage and inspire youth as Heroes-in-Training by teaching:

Situational Blindness
Bystander Effect
Conformity, Group Dynamics

2. Self Awareness:
Prejudice, Group Perception
Mindset: Fixed vs. Growth
Attributions and Stereotype Threat
Evil is more fun!
"When you look at the dark side, careful you must be... for the dark side looks back."
- Saved trucker's life by dragging his unconscious body over 200 feet to safety!
- HIP honored her with a celebration, cash award, and hired her for our inner city program in high schools and middle schools
Keenia Williams
Václav Havel
- The Czech people had co-created their Communist domination by passively resigning themselves to it as an unchangeable fact
- Václav Havel created a "psychological revolution" in the minds of ordinary people
- By encouraging them to oppose their oppression with love, truth, understanding and moral courage -- to act Heroically!
Moral courage is the core of heroic action
Milgram scenarios
Systemic Evil Worldwide
- War
- Genocide
- Slave labor
- Sex trafficking
- Climate change disaster indifference
what everyone ought to do."
"I was the hall monitor, it was MY JOB to look after my classmates."

The Heroic imagination put into action.
Are there circumstances that can make ordinary people do GOOD things?
DEMYSTIFY: No special inner qualities are essential, or specific family background
DIFFUSE: Away from solo heroes to team or ensemble heroes, working in prosocial networks
Let us work together to create a new generation of Heroes in your school, business, community, country, and around the world.
Which leader would you follow?
The Start of Situational Evil
Davis - MP Guard
Irena Sendler
- Saved 2,500 Jewish children from death by helping them escape from the Warsaw Ghetto
- She created a "Hero Network" of 20 people to smuggle children out to safety
- Now, more than 10,000 descendants of these survivors owe their life to this Polish hero. That's a powerful Ripple Effect!
Who We Are
What We Do
- Says: "I was enacting the bystander lesson I had learned at HIP."
The World Needs More Heroes... YOU!
"Do or do not...
There is no try"
The INaction of The Bystander Effect
Holocaust Heroes
Jan Karski
Witold Pilecki
- In 1940 he volunteered to get imprisoned at Auschwitz in order to gather intelligence and escape
- He started a resistance movement in camp and escaped in 1943, taking part in the Warsaw uprising
- He remained loyal to the London-based Polish government in exile and was executed in 1948 by Stalinist secret police for "foreign imperialism"
- Karski learned a profound lesson from his attempts to bring news of the Holocaust to the world:

"The common humanity of people, not the power of governments, is the only real protector of human rights... I learned also that people in power are more than able to disregard their individual conscience if they come to the conclusion that it stands in the way of what they see as their official duty."
- Karski was a well-educated Polish Catholic who spoke many languages and had a photographic memory. He was a courier for the Polish underground during WWII
- In 1942, he was able to infiltrate both the Warsaw ghetto and a German concentration camp to collect images and documents of the atrocities, eventually making his way to London to meet with Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt
- He found the West only partially responsive to the terrible news
"[Social science] has filled the void left by the atrophy of theology and philosophy." - David Brooks, journalist
I delivered this card to Havel on his last birthday
"The decision to act heroically is a choice that many of us will be called upon to make at some point in time."
Gloria Ma
Jack Lai
Next are a couple of Everyday Heroes in Hong Kong...
- 3rd year psychology student with congenital muscular dystrophy, who is wheelchair bound
- Devoted her life to reaching out to others with diseases; volunteers as a counselor providing services to low-income children
- Jack participates in service trips to Xian Starfish Foster home for children with special health needs
- Along with others, he helps clean the center and provide relief to the workers by playing and cuddling with the children
Special Concerns for Exporting Hero Project to Asian Cultures:

Reserve, Modesty, and Shyness are cultural traits -- focus is inwards, rather than a Socio-centric Focus, which is essential for Heroism

One child, Male-Centered policy is creating “Little Emperors”
New research reveals they are:
Less trusting, less competitive, less risk-taking,
more pessimistic and narcissistic

How can they be trained to become Everyday Heroes?
Another Hero - Billy Quatan
Are These Some of Your Asian Heroes?

2. Neurons are born, die, and change over the course of a lifetime
3. Personality evolves over the entire life span
4. IQ is raised or lowered by stimulation or deprivation success is also a function of social-emotional intelligence, opportunity, and luck
5. Evil is a potential for anyone; given circumstances and systems determine its actuality
6. Heroes are ordinary people whose heroism is extraordinary, most often in networks, not solo
1. Human nature is endlessly modified by nurture's experiences




FOR EVERY $2000 INVESTMENT IN A SEX SLAVE, THE PROFIT IS $30,000 X 600,000 = $180,000,000,000
The Power of One:
Take a stand
The Power of Two
Lend a hand
The Power of Three
Start a band
We were classmates at James Monroe High School in the Bronx, Class of 1949-1950
Milgram's first experiment... Obedience to Rhyme
I was on the Track team!
Heroism is the Hope for a future where HUMANITY rules, as Evil is diminished
How can we create a new heroic vision in which silence, apathy and indifference is never an option?
Change Your Perspective
Me becomes WE
I becomes US

Be MY Hero!
We Need Sponsors!
“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

-Aleksander Solzhenitsyn
How did I deal with this heroic challenger?
We married the next year, August 10, 1972, in the Stanford Church, and we raised two lovely daughters and lived happily ever after.
Let's hear from our worst guard,

"John Wayne”

recalling how and what he did to
his prisoners, as his “puppets”

- "The landmark Stanford study provides a cautionary tale for all military detention operations."
Power without oversight is a recipe for abuse everywhere.
Dan getting his belated hero award, enjoying Dr. Z’S Sicilian pasta
- FOCUS ON OTHERS: Make someone else feel special every day, give them a genuine compliment, hug when appropriate
We Need Sponsors!
Daniel Ellsberg
who exposed to the press the top secret military information indicating that the war in Vietnam was unwinable but our generals felt we had no way to exit.

That national exposure helped end the Vietnam War. Ellsberg was willing to go to jail as a traitor for long-term if his action helped end the war
Warm up music - Santana
"Change Your
, OR

* Altruism is great, but it's "heroism lite", because there is no danger/ risk involved
Helping to Create Everyday Heroes
So What Is A Hero??
"It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community -a community practicing
understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living.

This may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of the

Thich Nhat Hanh
Sit-Down Strikers at Fisher Body Plant
Flint, MI 1936-1937
Workers risked their jobs and lives to fight for the right to organize labor unions to advocate on their behalf.

Helped solidify UAW and establish workers rights to unionize.
Courageous Leadership, LLC

Our mission is to provide research-based methods in the services we offer to drive optimal individual and team performance in challenging situations by empowering people to consistently take wise and ethically courageous action under pressure.

We offer customized workshops and programs, individual or group assessments, consulting and coaching, online learning, license options, Train-the-Trainer program, and joint programs such as the Compassionate, Courageous Leadership Program, co-developed with Stanford's CCARE.


Skillful, courageous communication
Increased trust, social support, & collaboration
Enhanced engagement, motivation, resilience, & morale
High performance & values-based cultures
Reduced risk of misconduct, internal conflict, & liability
Reduced loss of resources, assets, & human capital

"Courageous Leadership spun out the original corporate division into a for profit consulting firm about a year ago. We continue to have complementary services and missions. Although not officially affiliated, we do partner whenever possible."
Our network of certified trainers include:
Brooke Deterlline
Lynne Henderson, Ph.D.
Lawrence Ellis
Sara Ellis Conant
Donna Hamlin, Ph.D.
Susan Strasburger, Ph.D.
Maureen Gevertz
Our approach is based on the premise that ordinary people are capable of taking extraordinary action.
6-module, 8 activity lesson framework workshops for ages 13 to adults
Middle & High School Students
Colleges & Universities
After-school programs, student leadership groups
Continuing education & professional development
What We Do
Research Initiatives
Modules are designed to be delivered effectively together or individually
Educational Program
Community Outreach & Support
Consulting & Program Development
Developing Corporate Leadership Programs
Where Is HIP?
Contact us: admin@heroicimagination.org
A New Generation of Hungarian Heroes
Károly Takács
Hungarian Hero
Two time Olympic Gold Medalist Shooter

Born in Budapest and joined Hungarian Army

Right hand was badly injured by faulty grenade during Army training in 1938

Went on to win 2 Olympic Gold medals in men's rapid fire shooting with left hand

3rd known physically disabled athlete to compete in the Olympics
Children who grow up in aggressive and violent communities are more likely to:

Behave with aggression and violence as adults
Struggle with PTSD, Depression, and other mental illness
Suffer from medical and physical issues
One study found that inner-city children in Atlanta experienced symptoms of PTSD at some point in their lives, comparable to what's observed in Veterans from Vietnam & Iraq!!
1 in 3
Violent and Aggressive Communities are Traumatizing Our Youth
Our Educational Modules
8-Step Framework
1. What Would You Do?
2. Explore the Psychology of Situations
3. Think of a Time...
4. Decide for Yourself
5. Develop Effective Change-Making Strategies
6. Plan for the Next Challenge
7. Reflect on your Personal Take-Aways
8. Spread the Word!
Flint, Michigan
Across the U.S.
Hong Kong
Stand Up, Speak Out, Change the World!
Full transcript