I am Prof Philip Zimbardo (author of The Lucifer Effect, Stanford Prison Experiment) here with Nikita Coulombe co-author of Man (Dis)connected our new book about masculinity & technology. Here to answer your questions -

My new book, Man(disconnected) is available here


EDIT: Great questions, sorry I've got to go. We'll check back later and answer when I can!

Comments: 172 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

oscarveli73 karma

If you had a chance to do the Stanford Prison Experiment again, what would you do differently?

drzim124 karma

Hi Phil here!

Yes I would, I would have only played the role of researcher and there would be someone above me, who would be the superintendent of the prison and when things got out of hand I would have been in a better position to terminate the study earlier and more appropriately.

KommanderKrebs48 karma

Hello Dr. Zimbardo, I took an AP Psychology class in highschool and we used the text book that you were involved with. My question is, what is your favorite or most interesting story you have heard in your time in the field of psychology?

drzim148 karma

My favourite is a classic, It’s the story of an elementary school teacher named Jane Elliott who taught her white protestant 3rd grade students to be prejudiced against students of different eye colours and then reversed it the next day. I believe there’s a youtube video of it somewhere. Simply fascinating.

KommanderKrebs18 karma

Wow, thank you for responding. I will have to check that out.

drzim57 karma

look for "blue eyes, brown eyes" study

Eryx89731 karma

Hello Mr. Zimbardo!

In context of the famous prison experiment, when you were first organizing it, what were some of the specific dangers you tried to avoid? Thank you!

drzim44 karma

We selected young men who were physically healthy and psychologically normal, we had prior arrangements with student health if that was necessary. Each student was given informed consent, so they knew that there would likely be some levels of stress, so they had some sense of what was to come. Physical violence by the guards, especially if there was a revolt, solitary confinement beyond the established one hour limit, but primarily trying to minimise acts of sexual degredation.

AnnonMiss28 karma

What kind of techniques do you use to help adults who are shy? That’s always been an issue for me that I’ve just started getting over in the past few years and I’m curious as to how you help others.

Regarding other Social Psychology research – I’ve heard that the Bystander Effect has been tested mainly on western cultures. Could it be that this is something that affects individualistic cultures more so than collectivist ones?

Regarding Personality (since it tends to get grouped with Social) – What do you think of the idea of the Dark Triad and that Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy all tend to occur together? What do you think of Sadism being added to the mix to make the Dark Tetrad?

Finally, my advisor says you love being asked “Why are people evil?” so since he can’t be here, I figured I’d ask for him: Why are people evil?

drzim63 karma

When we want to understand why someone did something evil, or some human activity occurred that we are curious about, there are three directions our search for an explanation can go: First, we focus on the individual, the person who was the actor, or the one who started the action we are interested in, such as smoking, gambling, fighting, kissing, helping, overeating, studying hard, cheating, risk taking, and more.

Typically we try to find something about that person, or in that person that might have caused the action, such as his or her genes, personality traits, character, upbringing, gender, race, or ethnicity. Such explanations are called "dispositional" by psychologists because they depend on finding dispositions or tendencies in the individual that seem to account for the behavior we want to explain.

Second, we may focus on the situation in which that individual engaged in that action. An analysis of the features or forces in any given situation acknowledges that almost all human behavior consists of people acting within a given social context, a social space in a particular environment, such as a gang, a fraternity, military unit, cult, class, night shift, inner city, blind date, bachelor party, late night club, and more. Such explanations are called "situational" because they focus on the features of that social and physical environment where the behavior occurred, as the stage and the props, and the other actors and audience features that accompany the individual actor's performance.

Third, we may focus on the person in the situation, that is created and maintained by a system of power and control. The system is where the deeper power resides, legal, economic, political, cultural and historical. Systems create many situations and they also create justifications, reasons, rules that maintain particular situations. In the analogy of an actor in a play, the actor is the individual, that stage and audience features are the situation, and the system can be the actors' union, the critics, the producers, the authorities who give ratings of acceptability.

Scenario: Prison guards are accused of mistreating enemy prisoners, as many guards did in the Iraq prison of Abu Ghraib in 2003. When photos were revealed of their humiliation, degradation and torture of their prisoners over many months, how was that sadistic behavior understood?

Dispositional: They were "bad apples" or rogue soldiers, who acted on their own out of sadistic tendencies. (That notion doesn't give a full idea of evil behavior.)

Situational: "Bad barrels" Their unacceptable behavior occurred because they were encouraged by their superiors to abuse the prisoners in order to get them to confess when interrogated later on, and then no senior officer ever went down to their prison dungeon during their night shift, so as to limit such abuses. If so, then no abuses should have occurred on the day shift when officers were present and soldiers' behavior was under surveillance. And in fact, none occurred in that situation.

System, or Systemic: "Bad barrel makers" Such aggressive behavior by military prison guards was not limited to that one prison situation, but was widespread in many other prisons where prisoners were also tortured as part of a program to get intelligence from them using all means necessary. It was part of a general pattern of military in war zones under pressure from higher ups to get information from prisoners as quickly as possible.

Note: Individuals are always held responsible and legally accountable for their criminal behavior even if it can be demonstrated that their behavior was situationally or systemically influenced; those influences should reduce the severity of their legal sentences,not affect the determination of guilt. However, if the situation and/or system is critically responsible, then they must be changed to prevent such behavior from recurring in the future, not just punishing or imprisoning the individual culprits.

drzim24 karma

Shyness: our focus with the book was on shy men. We suggest that even the most shy male can be trained to be ‘socially fit’. If socializing is a challenge for you, start off slow. You want to make social goals for yourself and gradually work your way up to them; it could be as simple as smiling at the person checking you out at the supermarket, and then making some brief conversation. Don’t get attached to the outcome of a social situation, socializing means another person with their own thoughts and emotions is involved, and the best we can all do is allow our- selves to be present and engaged in conversation. For more advice I’d recommend visiting shyness. com, the Shyness Research Institute (ius.edu/shyness), or reading my book, Shyness: What it is What to do About it

AnnonMiss9 karma

That's really interesting because that's essentially what I've been doing. I just started socializing a bit more every week or so, spending a bit more time with my friends from class instead of running back to my "cave" as I call it.

Thank you both so much for replying to me - I've read about you in all of my classes and I was so excited when I saw you were doing an AMA.

I just finished finals and this is a great way to end the semester, so thank you!

drzim11 karma

There are great exercises at the back of the new book. Check it out if you want some help with shyness.

thatoldguyfromup21 karma

Hi Dr. Zimbardo!

If there was a film adaptation dramatizing the events of the Stanford Prison Experiment, who would you want to play you?

drzim70 karma

Glad you asked the question, amazingly there is a new Hollywood movie that just premiered at the Sundance film festival to great reviews winning lots of prizes titled The Stanford Prison Experiment. It will have national showings in America starting in July and hopefully in Europe in the Fall. I was hoping that the actor who would play me would be either Johnny Depp or Andy Garcia but they were not available so instead a wonderful young actor, Billy Crudup is Dr Z. You may be aware of his great acting in Almost Famous and Dr Manhattan in Watchmen.

dereksmalls198510 karma

Thanks so much for doing this AMA! I am fascinated by your research.

What would you say the lasting legacy of the Standard Prison Experiment is?

drzim23 karma

Nikita here if I may: it's the power of the situation and system on individual behavior. Before experiments like Phil's and Stanley Milgram's people didn't understand just how influential either of these factors were on people's actions, and why people would behave one way in one situation (good) and another way in another situation (evil).

deadcell91567 karma

Hi, Dr. Zimbardo! What is an exciting development in the psychology field today?

drzim24 karma

Psychology is endlessly fascinating for me because new technologies are leading to new discoveries and the breadth of psychology is continually expanding. One example of the first point is the development of neuropsychology so that for the first time we can understand what is happening in the brain while the person is experiencing some phenomena. The expansion of psychology from the time I was a kid includes new emphasis on health psychology, well being, positive psychology, conflict resolution, behavioural organisational psychology and new conceptions about the importance of the nature of human memory. Finally, for me personally a new development in psychology is understanding the nature of heroism and ways to encourage ordinary people to develop the skills and strategies that will enable them to become every day heroes.

Frajer5 karma

What made you interested in masculinity ?

drzim20 karma

Nikita here (Phil's co-author). What got us interested in masculinity was a combination of things we were witnessing. Phil was teaching a graduate level psychology course when I worked for him. Over his many years of teaching he had seen the number of guys in his courses shrink, and we started talking about why that might be so. At the same time, I was single and going on dates and I'd always tell Phil about the guys. I remember relaying a conversation with a guy who said "I don't talk on the phone, I only text," and Phil couldn't believe it. We began to wonder why more young men didn’t care about getting their driver’s licences, moving out of their parents’ homes, or why they preferred to masturbate to porn than be with a real woman, and decided we needed to investigate further. Turns out that many of the things we were seeing were really symptoms of larger underlying systemic problems.

drzim9 karma

I’ve always been concerned about my male students, my son and nephews, trying to understand how they can succeed in life and such as social economic conditions that can be barriers to their success.

the_good_time_mouse4 karma

Interesting: from what I took away from your related TED talk, you seemed to be patronizingly unsympathetic to young men and their problems - blaming males and the, admittedly, often counter-productive ways in which they take refuge from unsympathetic, and, for them, untenable positions society puts them in, rather than the circumstances that got them there.

It felt like a pandering to middle class sexual fears, rather than trying to show people why men deserve sympathy and understanding, and why they distract themselves with games and pornography, or what can be done about the underlying situation.

drzim8 karma

that's what our whole book is about, going beyond the symptoms and figuring out WHY these problems are happening.

the_good_time_mouse-5 karma

To be frank, your message was so unwholesome, I'm not inclined to check out your book - you can't jump from adversary to ally without some kind of explanation.

drzim10 karma

Nikita here: Sorry you feel that way. Our perspectives changed as we did more research after the TED talk, after our large survey and speaking with many young men (as well as others). We went from symptoms to causes. There was only so much Phil could say in 5 minutes; the whole idea of such a short talk was to get conversations going on the topic.

bjoose3 karma

Hi Professor Zimbardo, I miss watching your old videos in psych 101 years back. I believe that what it means to be a man has been given a new blank slate thanks to the notion that traditional gender roles are not natural. Masculinity now means whatever you want it to mean, and this ambiguity I think is responsible for so many men failing to get anywhere sexually.

Also, I believe our minds weren't designed to deal with the over stimulatuon that comes with the easy accessibility of porn we have nowadays. What are your thoughts on things like yourbrainonporn.com?

drzim8 karma

Nikita here: Yes, masculine roles are definitely in a gridlock right now. We said in the book that across the blogosphere countless posts are written by women claiming there is a lack of nice and respectful men to date, while there are about as many posts written by ‘nice and respectful’ men asking for dating advice because women have told them they come across as too nice, passive, or desperate. This gridlock makes it difficult for young men to want to change, and for young men and young women to relate to each other as equals.

YourBrainOnPorn is an amazing resource. I'm in contact with Marnia, Gary's wife, regularly as they are so on top of new research that is coming out. I believe they just updated their main presentation last month: http://yourbrainonporn.com/your-brain-on-porn-series

bjoose2 karma

Thank you so much for replying. I'll be picking up the book soon and will check out the updated yourbrainonporn.com!

drzim1 karma

great! Hope you enjoy the book. I think you'll get a lot out of YBOP too.

reverendrambo3 karma

Thank you for your time! This question is for either of you.

Do you think the social access that today's technology brings is a benefit to or a hindrance to our psychological social needs?

drzim15 karma

In our book, Man (Dis)connected, we make clear that the internet can be a double edge sword. It provides us access to almost unlimited information. It gives us access to friends, colleagues and relatives around the world. It enables me to do Skype lectures with students in many countries without having the burden of having to travel there. But, the downside of technology is replacing people with digits. For too many people, especially young men, technology is an overwhelming allure, a constant temptation to leave the real world and immerse themselves in virtual reality. Our concern, in our book is only when this becomes extreme and when it involves social isolation. As a social psychologist I am always promoting doing more things that encourage social bonding.

reverendrambo3 karma

Thank you for your reply! What do you think the reason is that men seem to be more susceptible to overuse of technology?

drzim16 karma

There are several parts: One part is the types of games that are currently available. When we surveyed 67 high school students in the UK about 6 months ago (three quarters of them were girls) we asked "Why do you think guys play more video games than girls?" 46 of the students independently responded with a variation of "Video game content and advertisements cater to male interests such as first person shooter games, violence, racing, super heroes, and sports." The girls were telling us they didn't find those kinds of competitions meaningful, plus girls feel discouraged from gaming because chat rooms are abusive or mocking and have low expectations of female gamers. Additionally, Russian researcher Mikhail Budnikov found that while women slightly outnumbered men in medium-level risk to become addicted to video games, men were more than three times likelier (26 percent vs. 8 percent) to have a high level of risk. Stanford's Allan Reiss used fMRI imaging to see what happens inside people's brains during a gaming session and found males have greater feelings of reward during a gaming session (with greater activity in the brain's mesocorticolimbic center the more territory was gained in the game), and are two to three times more likely to feel addicted to video games. More research could show how much of this propensity to play to excess is due to the types of games available and the kind of reward the game delivers. Perhaps female's would show the same or higher levels of brain activity to games that had more neutral themes (such as Sudoku) or feminine themes (such as the Sims). For a lot of guys, real life is just not as rewarding as video games. Especially in this economy and with such high divorce rates, real life rewards seem ever more elusive.

The other part is fatherlessness. By far, this stands out across all nations as a cause of why young men are failing academically, wiping out socially, and flaming out sexually with women. Broken families and single mothers are on the rise everywhere (41% of women with children in the US are single mothers - rate is 50% for women under 30 years old, 25% in the UK). This creates ripple effect throughout a young man's life, from elevated stress hormones as a child, higher likelihood of ADHD and behavioral problems as an adolescent (there is also reciprocal causality between gaming and ADHD), and not having proper male role models to show him the way to be a man and later on a father himself. Even for young men that do have a father - the average teen boy spends just half an hour per week in one-on-one conversation with his dad versus 44 hours in front of a TV or computer screen. Society is not creating (some would argue society does not allow) outlets of expression for men, in general. Video games have simple and clear objectives that help a guy feel like he is "leveling up" while having fun - and no one is there saying "you can't do that, that's inappropriate," or "take it outside." No one is there actually enforcing any boundaries either about how much time he can play (traditionally boundary-setting is a father's realm), encouraging autonomy or initiative, showing him how to learn from his real-life failures, and no one is there modeling adult male behavior. The Harvard Grant study of men (one of the longest running longitudinal studies, now on its 77th or 78th year, with many participants now in their nineties) revealed that the most significant predictor of male happiness and success throughout his life was how warm his childhood was (having both parents present and positively engaged, having a close relationship with at least one sibling). Even as the men aged into their 70s, Vaillant said that their level of contentment "was not even suggestively associated with parental social class or even the man's own income. What it was significantly associated with was warmth of childhood environment, and it was very significantly associated with a man's closeness to his father." Older men are not showing younger men the way, and they are finding it themselves... through video games and porn.

What drives young men to use online porn to excess is more complicated. A lot of guys told us that it started out as an "opportunity addiction" - it's easily accessible, it's free, it's anonymous, there's no rejection, and it's arousing. But why they kept going back to it is another story. For the guys that use porn to excess it is often a distraction from something going on in their real life, either that they don't want to deal with or they don't know how to deal with. In our own 20,000 person survey, three-quarters of young women (ages 18-34) said that excessive gaming and porn use resulted in "emotional immaturity or unavailability" in romantic relationships and 3 out of 5 young men said it lead to a "lack of interest in pursuing or maintaining a romantic relationship/ social isolation."

TL;DR: 3 parts: it's the type of games available (with themes of violence, sports and racing, which girls generally don't find meaningful) and fatherlessness - no one is setting or enforcing boundaries, or offering guidance about becoming an adult male. Also, society suffocates male expression, in general. Video games and porn offer simple, rewarding experiences.

drzim10 karma

Nikita here: With young men there's a general overuse of video games and porn - especially in social isolation - which is not balanced out by other activities like exercise, face to face socialization with peers or individual time with any kind of male mentor. So in that way, it is a hindrance. The average teenage guy spends 44 hours a week in front of a television or computer screen and half an hour in one-on-one conversation with his father - and that's the boys who actually have a father around. America leads the industrialized world in fatherlessness - 40% of children today are born to unwed mothers, the rate is 50% for women under 30. Of course this in turn affects guys' school performance: boys that grow up with fathers do not do as well in school and are not as well adjusted socially. They're also far more likely to have attention or mood disorders and more likely to play excessive amounts of video games. Actually a recent study came out with evidence suggesting bidirectional causality (A causes B and B causes A) between gaming and attention disorders.

There's definitely teamwork and socializing in many online games, for example, and it's not just superficial. People are making friends around the world through gaming. So here's we're seeing a "pro." But there is also a "con" side because it is still a limited kind of socializing. As Sherry Turkle, author of Alone, Together said, it cannot replace real-life in-person interactions, especially those of spontaneous nature. Online conversations and texts are very structured, and don't allow people to read each other's facial expressions and body language. Turkle said that we also learn how to have productive inner dialogue with ourselves through our conversations with others, so limiting oneself to indirect interaction can limit one's own ability for self-reflection and deep thinking.

In a recent AskMen survey, only a quarter of respondents said they play video games with their friends while more than a third play completely alone or with strangers online. Given the estimate by Jane McGonigal that the average young person will play 10,000 hours of video games by the time they are 21 years old, that is a lot of time spent away from direct contact with other people, where they are not practicing the whole range of social skills (like empathy and compassion) and also not developing any real life skills or hobbies. Shyness is changing too; in the past shyness was about not knowing how to reach out to others and fearing social rejection, today's shyness is about not wanting to connect with others because of not knowing how to, and then distancing oneself the further out of practice a person gets. Bernardo Carducci, from the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast, says "changes in technology are affecting the nature of interpersonal communication so that we are experiencing more structured electronic interactions and less spontaneous social interactions where there is the opportunity to develop and practise interpersonal skills, such as negotiating, making conversation, reading body language and facial cues, which are important for making new friends and fostering more intimate relationships."

Going back to fatherlessness, compared to kids not living with Dad, elementary school children surveyed who were living with their fathers scored better on 21 of 27 social competence measures. And perhaps as a result, they also have more playmates. They’re also more likely to do better and go further in school. Elementary school children raised with their fathers also do better on eight out of nine academic measures, and a father’s impact remains significant through high school. The National Center for Health Statistics also reports that children of unwed or divorced parents who live with only their mother are 375 per cent more likely to need professional treatment for emotional or behavioural problems. This is important because the lack of social skills drives young men to play video games to excess, and gaming in turn does not require them to develop their social skills further, which contributes to this "new shyness" we are seeing.

On the positive side, we'd say the biggest pro of games is their crowd-sourcing potential (to solve large-scale problems, expose corruption) and their therapeutic potential. Patients who played video games were distracted from their pain and reported feeling far less pain than when they were not distracted. This was confirmed by analysis of their MRIs; being in a virtual world actually decreased the amount of pain-related activity in the brain. In paediatric dentistry, children are encouraged to watch a favourite television show or game on an imaginary screen while their teeth are being drilled. This kind of hyno-therapeutic treatment has been shown to be very effective, especially with patients who could not receive anaesthesia.

TL;DR: Technology is changing us, and it depends how often you use it, and whether you're in social isolation when you use it. It can be beneficial or a hindrance. When it's a hindrance, it's not technology that's the issue, it's the misuse of technology.

reverendrambo1 karma

I definitely agree that technology is not inherently good or bad but how it's used that can have the positive or negative affects. Thanks for your reply!

drzim4 karma


BassLorin2 karma


I notice how a lot of your more recent things around the last decade are centralized around masculinity, e.g. The Demise of Guys and now Man (Dis)connected.

What is your opinion on modern feminism, and what should it strive to do (if anything) to make guys feel empowered again?

drzim10 karma

Simply put, I think guys need gals and guys need gals as friends and lovers. I challenge old notions of masculinity which typically involve dominance and power over women for a new sense of masculinity which involves collaboration, sharing and learning from one another. One of the problems that we have currently is that young women have become the legacy of earlier feminist movements by being v successful in academia, in business and even in sports. So, while I have complained about the demise of too many guys I am celebrating the rise of a great many gals!

drzim9 karma

Nikita here, I have a bit of a different take on feminism. Just as Phil said, we both are celebrating the rise of women (I myself am a young woman, and appreciate the opportunities available to women now that weren't options several decades ago). However, too often feminists are shutting out the disadvantages and challenges that men are facing, and this is unfair. For example, you don't see feminists advocating for father's rights. If you dig deeper into the welfare system, it is shocking how much it encourages the absence of biological fathers. Also, how is it OK that women have the right to join the military, but not the responsibility to fight if there were a draft? The answer is, it's not ok, it is sexist, or as Warren Farrell would say, it's reverse sexism. It's as sexist as making all 18-year-old females register to reproduce if the country were to need more children. Another important issue right now is just how few men are teachers (the ratio is 1 in 9 in the US and 1 in 5 in the UK). If we look at male dominated professions such as engineering, we would see all kinds of programs and incentives to get more women in that profession. But there are hardly any incentives to get men into teaching positions. We have to think about what kind of impact that has on young men (as well as young women).

BassLorin1 karma

Fantastic reply, thank you

drzim4 karma

thanks! I have 3 brothers and these issues mean a lot to me.

jeffhardydoesajump2 karma

Hello Dr Zimbardo! Being particularly interested in social psychology, I'm a big fan of what you have accomplished through your research. I was wondering what really got you interested in social psychology, and your research is connected to that of Stanley Milgram, another favourite psychologist of mine - so what I'm asking is what initially got you into this field of psychology, and what did you think of Milgram's research when you first came across it?

drzim9 karma

Thank you. I was interested in psychology from a young age: I grew up in the Bronx in the 1930s and started wondering why some people would go down certain paths, like joining a gang, while others didn't. I was also high school classmates with Stanley Milgram; we were both asking the same questions.

ggchappell2 karma

Hello, Dr. Zimbardo.

A couple of decades ago, I read some of what you had written about Synanon and other "cult-ish" groups. I'm wondering what your current views are about such groups and how much some aspects of them ought to be imitated. Are these groups that society in general ought to learn from -- in terms of how to relate to each other, raise children, form a community, etc. -- or should we take more of a stay-away approach? And if we ought to learn from them, then how should we go about reshaping society while avoiding the many negatives of such groups?

Also, I'll second the question from /u/AnnonMiss: Why are people evil?

drzim4 karma

Nikita here: Phil signed off but here is a link where you can find more of Phil's writings on cults, specifically Jonestown: http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/?page_id=16564

More on Jonestown: http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/

Phil is also connected to Steve Hassan, who has a website discussing cults: https://www.freedomofmind.com

zachhanly2 karma

Dr. Zimbardo!

Are there any social psych topics or hypotheses that you really want to study, but can not because of research limitations? Basically, if ethics didn't exist for one study, what study would you run?

drzim7 karma

Great question; I talked about this in my AMA from a couple years ago: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/untpp

I am most interested in the psychology of heroism right now. In the introduction to chp 16 in my Lucifer Effect book (2007), I invited anyone to perform a Reverse Milgram experiment. Milgram was able to demonstrate the relative ease with which ordinary people, 1000 of them, could be systematically led to administer increasingly dangerous levels of shock to an innocent victim by means of gradually raising the shock level with each trial by only 15 volts, until by the end of 30 shocks the voltage was raised to a near lethal 450 volts. At least 2 of every 3 participants went all the way down that slippery slope.

Now, can we demonstrate the opposite, that ordinary people can be gradually led to engage in increasingly "good" socially redeeming deeds up to a point of engaging in extremely altruistic, heroic actions, which initially they assert they would never be willing to do?

It would have to be well crafted with early assessments of the prosocial value of each target action on the way up the slippery slope of goodness. It might have to be individually tailored to the values and interests of the target person, thus for some giving one's time is precious, for others it would be money, or working in undesirable conditions, or with an unattractive population of people, etc.

It would be sad to conclude that it is easier to get ordinary people to do evil, than to do heroic actions, so I personally welcome someone to systematically take up my challenge.

imreallyinteresting2 karma

Why do you think men are watching more internet porn these days than ever? Is it just because of YouPorns competitive gaming team?

drzim3 karma

Accessibility. High speed Internet changed everything. Unlike previous eras, today a guy can go online and see more photos and videos of naked women in a morning than his ancestors would have seen in a lifetime. Not to mention it usually doesn't cost anything (online at least), and it can be watched anonymously in the privacy of one's bedroom. The easy accessibility combined with the low cost and the ability to be anonymous allows a guy to bypass any stigma or uncomfortable questions he might have otherwise encountered in the past.

xpamelaxx1 karma

Hello Dr.Zimbardo! How exciting that you're answering questions, thanks so much for this. Anyways, I'm wondering what made you want to develop the Stanford prison experiment and how it was an impact to psychology and past the field of psychology? Thanks again! From your big fan, Pam:)

drzim2 karma

Hi Pam. Nikita here: from my conversations with Phil (I was his PA for more than 3 years), he said there were a few things that got him interested in conducting the Stanford Prison Experiment. One was his upbringing in the Bronx (wondering what made good people do bad things), another was reading the book The Lord of the Flies, and other was conversations with others about interesting topics to study. When he was teaching at Stanford in the early 1970s, he was discussing with colleagues and students what the impacts of prison life might be on people, like how they might change in the situation, and how the guards might change too, and adapt to their role.

Daviohead1 karma

Hi both, are males really on the demise? I know manliness is now what it used to be and would love to know your thoughts

drzim5 karma

Nikita here!

Essentially there are many factors that play into a general loss of motivation in guys. Going beyond the symptoms - performing poorly in school, failing to transition into adulthood, flaming out socially and sexually with women - and into the causes, guys are living in an environment that's hostile towards men. We make men feel expendable, unneeded, and like they can't be themselves. When you think about the fact that 85% of all stimulant medications prescribed to American boys, for example, you can't help but wonder about why there is such a disproportion. No doubt there's some legitimate cases of ADHD, but we're basically telling high energy males that it's not okay to be that way and there's something wrong with them. We've also canceled most gym and recreation time in schools - an important way guys used to be able to release some of that energy. The list goes on.

temporaryescape1 karma

If laws were not an issue, what experiments would you love to conduct?

drzim1 karma

please see the above response to zachhanly

shoelace_fairy1 karma

Do you think the Stanford Prison Experiment would have gone differently if you had done with demographics other than young, white, males?

drzim3 karma

Nikita here if I may: other experiments like Milgram's have shown that women are just as obedient to authority as men. Check out the chart in this article (you'll have to scroll down a bit) that shows the different scenarios Milgram conducted. You see women went right to the maximum amount of shocks just as often as men did: http://elitedaily.com/life/why-paying-attention-to-history-and-human-behavior-will-help-us-be-a-more-heroic-human-race/606139/

For other research on deviance, I remember (don't have a link for it, sorry!) that Australians were actually the least obedient to authority.