Dr. Phillip Zimbardo: Social Psychologist

Phillip Zimbardo, born in 1933, was raised in a South Bronx ghetto. He went on to earn a doctorate from Yale, and is the reknowned Professor Emeritus of Stanford University, the place, where he conducted the infamous ”Stanford Prison Experiment”; the experiment he shut down after 1~week because the college students recruited/paid to act as prison guards abused the college students recruited to act as inmates. After 1~week, the ”guards” became brutal, and the ”prisoners” helpless.

Zimbardo planned only an experiment, but he proved again that ”Many people, perhaps the majority, can be made to do anything when put into phsychologically compelling situations ~regardless of…morals, ethics, values, attitudes, beliefs, or personal convictions” (Henslin, 2005: 300).

Dr. Zimbardo elaborated that there are environmental contingencies and social forces which constrain peoples’ behavior, as opposed to will~power, character and personality traits. Situational controls are subtle and we label others negatively who act different from us (2005: 300).

An important concept in Zimbardo’s work is that of DEINDIVIDUATION: the process of losing one’s identity and becoming part of a group. As a situational variable, deindividuation was a large part of Zimbardo’s work and many experiments involving people. Additionally, many of these experiments can be generalized to the dynamics of peer~pressure and conformity.

Deindividuation works first through anonymity~that of disolving into a group; the group, is the identity, not individual actors. It is under this rationale people assume to no longer assume responsibility, or be singled~out for their behavior. Have you ever considered why groups throughout history have painted their faces, wore costumes, masks as they went off to war? Even soldiers and officers of contemporary militaries wear uniforms (with other practical use, such as camouflage) just as a terror~group such as the KKK shroud themselves in white curtain: to deindividuate! (Bartol, 1999: 130).

So how does all this relate to you? The RippleFX Foundation seeks to empower people through communication, educating about the social environment, and social roles and responsibilities. We have published three [3] books to combat the persistent pathology of recidivism produced by the prison superstructure that Zimbardo warned us about. Tax~payers own the prisons ~even the corporate for~profit prisons, a failed business socially. Simply leaving people to the oppressive power and helplessness of such a fruitless situation is irresponsible, forcing people to adapt to merely existing! Incarceration by itself is nothingness.

Our publications focus on developing prisoners, families, and staff alike, taking an ecclectic approach. Our guides are free, and while new, are utilized successfully by few programs already! We cannot conduct further research to strengthen and produce our guides; we need your help. Download a guide from the Criminal Justice page, above. Provide a comment or feedback, and sponsor a class so we can get a guide to every prison, staff member, guard, and warden. Start the paradigm shift!

Phillip Zimbardo also said this: ”Underneath the toughest society~hating convict, rebel, anarchist is a human being who wants his existence to be recognized by his fellows and wants someone else to care about whether he lives or dies and to grieve if he lives imprisoned rather than free” (2005: 303).
We are all imprisoned by some situation; set yourself free…

• Bartol, Curt R. CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR: A Psychosocial Approach, 5th Ed. Prentice Hall. N.J. : 1999.

• Henslin, James M. DOWN TO EARTH SOCIOLOGY, 13th Ed. Freepress. N.Y. : 2005.



One thought on “Dr. Phillip Zimbardo: Social Psychologist

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