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TITLE OF DOCUMENT:

The Lucifer effect. Can you become mad?

NAME OF AUTHOR(S):

Zimbardo P.

NAME OF PUBLISHER:

Raffaello Cortina Editore

LANGUAGE OF DOCUMENT:

Italian

LANGUAGE OF THE REVIEW:

English

KEYWORDS:

Good / evil – human nature – influence - science – interpersonal relationship

DOCUMENT TYPOLOGY:

Book

TARGET GROUP OF PUBLICATION:

Parents, Policy Makers, Teachers, Researchers, Young People, School Directors.

SIZE OF THE PUBLICATION:

Over 100 pages

DESCRIPTION OF CONTENTS:

The book starts with an introduction that deals with the transformation in human attitude, from good souls and angels that begin committing crimes and having evil and aberrant behaviour. It raises a fundamental question about the nature of humans: how well can we say to know ourselves? How much confidence do we have in what we would or would not ever do when put into new behavioural settings? How is it possible for ordinary, average, even good people to become perpetrators of evil? It provides a detailed chronology of the transformations in human character that took place during the experiment carried out by the writer that witnesses how quiet and non violent people may become fierce and willing to dominate other people. In the Stanford Prison Experiment, 24 healthy normal college students of the Psychology Department of the Stanford University in California, were randomly assigned to play the role of guard or prisoners for two weeks in a simulated prison, paying attention to the prisoners’ attitude and simulating the conditions and reactions, typical of jails. These volunteers did not have specific tasks, they only had to maintain order trying to avoid abuse and violence. The project was supposed to last two weeks but on the second day the guards were too involved in their role that quickly became so brutal that the experiment had to be shut down after only six days. The experiment started on 15th August and was suspended on 20th August by Zimbardo who decided to set victims free: physical and psychological aggressions were so cruel to be compared to the Nazi attitude.

REVIEWER’S COMMENTS ON THE DOCUMENT:

There is something in absolute evil that is not monstrous and inhuman at all, because it is just human, too human: something that involves everyone silently – these are the words written by Roberto Escobar in the Preface of the Italian edition. We must take care of the fact that there are neither normal nor unaffected men and women, some people are devoted to evil, this awareness may be useful for us. Zimbardo suggests a convincing response: understanding why these monstrous actions were committed does not mean to put aside what was committed. We must understand and choose.

NAME OF THE REVIEWING ORGANISATION:

don Milani

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