Zimbardo Speaks


Even though Zimbardo is not going to be part of the specs next year he will be an important part of the background of the R&H study so he still wont be far from our thoughts! Even thought his study can (and does) come under massive criticism for ethics and methodological problems (cough… Zimbardo told them to act that way … cough) it is still one of the most well know studies of social psychology (and maybe even Psychology as a whole).

Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment has always been one of the students’ favourite studies with all the drama and the video ‘Quiet Rage‘ brings this to life even more. At the moment you can get a BBC documentary on the SPE which is excellent viewing through YouTube (video 1, 2 and 3) although I’m not too sure how long it will last.

Following on from this you can see Zimbardo answer some uncomfortable questions put to him by Stephen Sackur as he attempts to justify his SPE on the BBC’s Hard Talk programme. Well worth a watch as it brings in Richer & Haslam’s replication too. For the moment I only have a .mov of the programme but I am working on getting an online copy working. Download the show here.

As well as those video’s I have some news from Uniview: if you weren’t lucky enough to get to see Zimbardo at his recent UK conference (here) then never fear as Uniview were there for us and have videoed the conference.

Much of Zimbardo’s research focuses on the transformation of character that occurs when normally good people are led to engage in evil actions. This is what Zimbardo calls “The Lucifer Effect” and is the name of his latest book and a theme of his lecture in London this March. In April of last year, The Sunday Times described The Lucifer Effect as “an important book; if enough people absorbed its argument, we might find ourselves in a better polity”.

The lecture is particularly exciting as it is being filmed by educational production company Uniview Worldwide Ltd, under the working title of Zimbardo Speaks. Uniview began 15 years ago as a production company and is now the leading supplier of psychology resources in the UK. Uniview have had a long lasting relationship with Zimbardo, being the only UK distributor of his DVD, Quiet Rage: A Stanford Prison Experiment.

The director of Zimbardo Speaks, former psychology teacher and examiner, and founder of Uniview Worldwide, Helen R. Staveley-Taylor, says she is delighted to be involved with the project. “As a psychology student when Zimbardo was carrying out his classic Stanford Prison Study, it is very exciting for me to be filming him 35 years later. An inspirational speaker, Zimbardo will be providing an entertaining, informative and important talk which marks an advance in our understanding of social interaction.

The video should be available from Uniview soon (and I’ll let you know as soon as I do).

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2 Responses to “Zimbardo Speaks”

  1. Shelby MorrisonPh.D. April 9, 2008 at 4:26 pm #

    Your website is fabulous! I found it in a reference made on I teach Zimbardo’s Prison Experiment every year during an Honors General Psychology class. This update is most appreciated. Please keep it up online forever! As to the study, it is so shocking today with the APA guidelines. It is a good lesson on human studies and informed consent. Thanks!

  2. Iain O' L February 14, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    Thanks for the interesting post and all of the resources.

    However, I must question your assumption that the guards in the study acted as they did because “Zimbardo told them to”. As Zimbardo points out in The Lucifer Effect (2007), prison guards are given little orientation upon appointment, and “act out” their perceived roles for a time. After this initial period they internalise the guard role and behave naturally rather than as they feel a guard “should” behave. This idea is supported by Thayer & Saarni as well as de Jong (both 1975). Remember, while he did allow guards space to “frustrate them [the prisoners]…to an extent”, Zimbardo did not suggest sexual degradation, endless push-ups, extensive solitary confinement, and spending time in the prison outside of their paid working hours. All of these factors reflect the power of the total situation which the prison environment created.

    However, I do not disagree with the assertion that Zimbardo made many irresponsible decisions in the design and enactment of the SPE (as he admits to himself).

    I also reccomend reading Zimbardo’s commntary on the BBC Prison Study, which offers an interesting discussion on the scientific method.



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