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          When Good People Do Bad Things

          December 22, 2010

          Is it possible for a good person to turn evil? Do you think you have an inner demon, or do you think that you could ever be swayed by bad influences, people or systems? Could you or someone you know ever rob a bank, steal from a neighbor or torture another human being? You’d be surprised at some of the good people who have found themselves doing truly evil things! Could this happen to you?

          Dr. Philip Zimbardo is professor emeritus at Stanford University and the author of The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. He has performed some of the most groundbreaking experiments in the history of psychology.

          Dr. Phil and Dr. Zimbardo examine what makes a good person do bad things.

          Audience Experiments
          Dr. Philip Zimbardo puts the Dr. Phil studio audience to the test. Would they blindly follow directions from someone just because he looked like an authority figure? See what happened when an actor directs them to do some pretty strange things! Plus, how would you react if you were asked to guard a hoodlum with a taser and told to use the weapon if he tries to flee? 

          “You fried him ” twice!”

          Obedience to Authority

          Learn more about Stanley Milgram’s Obedience to Authority Experiments, as mentioned on the show. Would participants deliver shocks ” and therefore, pain ” to another human being if told to do so by someone in power?

          Such a result was totally unexpected by psychologists, as well as the general public. 

          The Stanford Prison Experiment
          The horrific abuses discovered in 2004 at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq mimic the results from Dr. Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment in the 1970s. See the surprising parallel that demonstrates just how easily a good person can be drawn to the dark side.

          “It’s really a fine line between good and evil.”

          Obeying His Superior 
          Alex was an Army ranger who says he was just obeying routine orders when he ended up in prison for bank robbery. Find out what happened and how Dr. Zimbardo saved Alex from a 30-year prison sentence. Are you susceptible to manipulation by an authority figure?

          “I saw how scared she was, and right then I said, ‘Something is wrong here.'” 

          Don’t miss Part 2 with Dr. Zimbardo!

          Phil in the Blanks – The Podcast

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