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Philip Zimbardo

Philip Zimbardo

Philip George Zimbardo who is a psychologist and professor at Stanford University was born on March 23, 1933 in the New York City to a family of Sicilian immigrants. In 1954, he completed his BA with a triple major in psychology, sociology and anthropology from Brooklyn College.

In 1955, he completed his M.S. in psychology and in 1959; he did his Ph.D. in psychology from Yale University advised by Neal E. Miller. From 1959 to 1960, he taught at Yale University and from there onwards, he taught psychology at the New York University.  He taught at Columbia University from 1967 to 1968. In 1968, he became a part of the faculty at Stanford University. Philip is also the president of Heroic Imagination Project and is well reputed for his prison study in Stanford and the author of several popular psychology books and textbooks for college going students which comprises of The Time Paradox and The Lucifer Effect.

Philip Zimbardo accepted the offer of a tenured position at the University of Stanford in 1971. After acquiring permission from U.S. Office of Naval Research, he carried out his study in which some mentally right individuals were assigned the role of being prisoners or guards in the Psychology basement at the Stanford. Although it was a two week study but it ended in six days as the participants had undergone considerable amount of emotional trauma. Moreover, the students rapidly quirked their roles as guards becoming sadistic and prisoners showed signs of depression and passivity. Although the volunteers had a preconceived idea that the study would take place sometime but because it took place so suddenly in the prison, it put them in a state of shock. The volunteers on the other hand were degraded, shaved and searched and were given their ID numbers and uniforms and the volunteer prison guards escorted them to the cells which isolated them to a large extent that they were unable to let out their individual characteristics. The guards themselves did not have any prior experience of their treatment towards the prisoners but were given freedom by the psychologists to what they please towards the prisoners. Indeed, they wore similar uniforms and were dressed in a thorough professional manner, wore a whistle around the neck and carried a stick which they used in the night. When the experiment commenced, Philip started off with nine guards and nine prisoners and in backup were kept the original volunteers and 3 prisoners and simultaneously the 3 guards occupied the prison at a time.

Philip Zimbardo is greatly recognized for his work and has received the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation Vision 97 Award in Prague. He was also awarded the sarcastic IG Nobel Award for Psychology for his report “Politicians’ Uniquely Simple Personalities in 2003”.

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