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Download The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, by Philip Zimbardo Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,914 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Philip Zimbardo Narrator: Kevin Fole Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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What makes good people do bad things? How can moral people be seduced to act immorally? Where is the line separating good from evil, and who is in danger of crossing it?

Renowned social psychologist Philip Zimbardo has the answers, and in The Lucifer Effect he 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.

Zimbardo is perhaps best known as the creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment. Here, for the first time and in detail, he tells the full story of this 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 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Zimbardo challenges readers to look beyond glib denunciations of evil-doers and ponder our collective responsibility for the world’s ills.”

    Publishers Weekly

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Lauren | 2/5/2014

    " This book helps answer a question that has been puzzling and troubling me for decades: how do ordinary people become monsters, willing to commit violence against others? Zimbardo's argument, backed up with research, is that we are much more influenced by context than we would like to admit. Under circumstances that dehumanize other people, and reduce our sense of individual responsibility, we are all capable of terrible things. His purpose is not to excuse individuals from their personal responsibility, but rather to urge us to think about the contexts we create as a society and whether they are conducive to growth and strength or to violence and inhumanity. He uses this model to try to understand horrors of recent history such as genocide in Africa and the torture at Abu Ghraib. Again, this is not to excuse the terrible violence, but rather to understand it, so we can look to avoid it in the future. I appreciate this argument because I believe if we realize we are all capable of violence, we are more vigilant against sliding into violence-inducing contexts blindly. By arming ourselves with the knowledge of what sorts of circumstances can lead to violence, we are less likely to create these contexts or succumb to them if they arise. At least that is my hope. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Merilee | 2/3/2014

    " I'd give this book 4.5 stars if I could. It's a very well-documented book written by the creator of the famous/infamous 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, in which students were randomly selected to play either prisoners or guards and the psychological carnage which followed after only a few days. Zimbardo served as a consultant for the defense of one of the accused officers at Abu Ghraib, and draws many conclusions about the rotten barrels (the situations and "systems") which lead to otherwise good "apples" doing bad. He details many failures of leadership in the U.S. Army, as well as the higher-ups in the Defense Dept. and White House. The army has actually adopted some of his recommendations for better training of military leaders. The book is not 100% doom and gloom; towards the end he describes ways in which people who understand these dynamics can avoid the evil and even perform heroic acts. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Janice | 1/30/2014

    " meh... I don't buy it... good people can't turn evil. Those with the propensity for evil will get there... may take some time... but they will get there. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Bethany | 1/21/2014

    " A little dry, but very informative. "

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