Philip Zimbardo Philip Zimbardo Keynotes

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This Philip Zimbardo Keynote Explores What Makes People Do Terrible Things

The focus of this Philip Zimbardo keynote is the nature of evil. Sharing with the audience a variety of exceedingly disturbing and graphic photographs taken from from the Abu Ghraib trials, he explores what makes people turn bad and behave in evil ways.

Early on in his speech, he points out that the line between good and evil, which so many privileged people like to think is impermeable, is not fixed. He then defines evil as the exercise of power to harm people psychologically and physically.

After presenting a slideshow of horrific images taken by American citizens, he explains how it is wrong for people to ask who was responsible for these evil acts; he argues that we must be asking instead what is responsible for such behavior. He sees social constructs and social behavior as the real reason behind people behaving in such ways.

By sharing the story of the Abu Ghraib trials and different experiments that he and his team of researchers performed, he shows how social situations and cultural constructs enable individuals to do both good and bad.