In 1971, at Stanford University, a young psychology professor created a simulated prison. Some of the young men playing the guards became sadistic, even violent, and the experiment had to be stopped.
The results of the Stanford Prison Experiment showed that people tend to conform — even when that means otherwise good people doing terrible things. Since then, the experiment has been used to help explain everything from Nazi Germany to Abu Ghraib.
Now, in a new project, Philip Zimbardo, the psychologist who created the prison experiment, is trying to show that people can learn to bring out the best in themselves rather than the worst.
An Unwanted Legacy
Four decades after he created the Stanford Prison Experiment, Zimbardo says he’s still hearing about it.
“I hate the idea that the Stanford prison study is the main thing most people know me for,” he says.
To listen to the interview, click here.