Stanford Prison

Enzian Theater Maitland, FL


Dr. Philip Zimbardo

Psychologist; Professor Emeritus, Stanford University; Creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment— The Psychology of Heroism vs. Villainy

A discussion of the question central to Dr. Zimbardo's studies today: What pushes some people to become perpetrators of evil, while others act heroically on behalf of those in need?

Enzian Theater Maitland, FL

Film Synopsis

In 1971, Stanford Professor Philip Zimbardo conducts a controversial psychology experiment in which college students pretend to be either prisoners or guards, but the proceedings soon get out of hand.

In this tense, psychological thriller based on the notorious true story, Billy Crudup stars as Stanford University professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who, in 1971, cast 24 student volunteers as prisoners and guards in a simulated jail to examine the source of abusive behavior in the prison system. The results astonished the world, as participants went from middle-class undergrads to drunk-with-power sadists and submissive victims in just a few days. 

About the Speaker

Dr. Philip Zimbardo is internationally recognized as the voice and face of contemporary American psychology through his widely seen PBS-TV series, Discovering Psychology, his classic research, The Stanford Prison Experiment, authoring the oldest current textbook in psychology, Psychology and Life, in its 18th Edition, and his popular trade books on shyness in adults and in children; Shyness: What it is, what to do about it, and The Shy Child

Past president of the American Psychological Association, and the Western Psychological Association, Dr. Zimbardo has been a Stanford University professor since 1968 (now an Emeritus Professor), having taught previously at Yale, NYU, and Columbia University. He was also on the faculty of the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, and the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California. He has been given numerous awards and honors as an educator, researcher, writer, and service to the profession, including the Vaclav Havel Foundation Prize for his lifetime of research on the human condition. 

His more than 300 professional publications and 50 books convey his research interests in the domain of social psychology, with a broad spread of interests from shyness to time perspective, madness, cults, political psychology, torture, terrorism, and evil. Dr. Zimbardo has served as the chair of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP), representing 63 scientific, math, and technical associations (with 1.5 million members), as well as the chair of the Western Psychological Foundation. 

He heads a philanthropic foundation in his name to promote student education in his ancestral Sicilian towns. Dr. Zimbardo adds further to his retirement list activities: serving as the new executive director of a Stanford center on terrorism — the Center for Interdisciplinary Policy, Education, and Research on Terrorism (CIPERT). He was an expert witness for one of the soldiers in the Abu Ghraib Prison abuses, and has studied the interrogation procedures used by the military in that and other prisons as well as by Greek and Brazilian police torturers. Noted for his personal and professional efforts to actually 'give psychology away to the public,' Dr. Zimbardo has also been a social-political activist, challenging the US government's wars in Vietnam and Iraq, as well as the American Correctional System.