the lucifer effect
My first exposure to real social science came in my freshman year of college when I took Psych 101. I only clearly remember two cases from that class: the Milgram experiment and the Stanford prison experiment. Etched in my memory is the face of Philip Zimbardo, talking on the big-screen about the role that context plays in our behavior. Good people can begin doing very bad things given the right (or wrong) context. Although I didn’t realize it then, this freshman-level course began moving my intellectual interests in the direction of my future career.
Zimbardo recently retired and is now busily promoting his latest book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. Zimbardo summarizes some of the content in that book in these posts at the Situationist (here, here, and here). On the lighter side, you should see Zimbardo on The Daily Show, yukking it up with Jon Stewart.