“The future is always modifiable by our actions.”
– Dr. Phil Zimbardo
Dr. Philip Zimbardo (@PhilZimbardo) is one of the most distinguished psychologists in the world and a professor emeritus at Stanford University. He is arguably best known for his 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, in which students were turned into mock prisoners and guards for a continuous 24-hour-a-day study. The experiment was planned for two weeks but terminated after just six days.
In this podcast, we explore how we — as humans — can do less evil, how you can be a “deviant for day,” mindful disobedience, and much more. It was a blast.
Apart from the above, Dr. Zimbardo has served as President of the American Psychological Association and designed and narrated the award-winning 26-part PBS series, Discovering Psychology. He has published more than 50 books, including Shyness, The Lucifer Effect, The Time Cure, The Time Paradox, and most recently, Man, Interrupted.
Dr. Zimbardo currently lectures worldwide and is actively working to promote his non-profit, The Heroic Imagination Project. His current research looks at the psychology of heroism. The question he poses is: “What pushes some people to become perpetrators of evil, while others act heroically on behalf of those in need?”
Please enjoy this conversation with Dr. Philip Zimbardo — our oldest guest to date!
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear another episode with a fascinating scientist? — Listen to my interview with Dr. Peter Attia. In this episode, we discuss optimizing blood testing, training for ultra-endurance sports, consuming synthetic ketones, using metabolic chambers, extending longevity by avoiding certain types of exercise, and much more (stream below or right-click here to download):
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Connect with Dr. Phil Zimbardo:
- The Stanford Prison Experiment
- Shyness: What It Is, What To Do About It by Philip G. Zimbardo
- The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil by Philip G. Zimbardo
- The Time Cure: Overcoming PTSD with the New Psychology of Time Perspective Therapy by Philip G. Zimbardo, Richard Sword, and Rosemary Sword
- The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd Ph.D
- Man, Interrupted: Why Young Men are Struggling & What We Can Do About It by Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Coulombe
- Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss
- James Monroe High School in the Bronx
- The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures
- Torture at Abu Ghraib by Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker
- The Lord’s Prayer (“Deliver us from evil.”)
- Documentary Explores Kitty Genovese’s Notorious 1964 Murder: Did 38 People Really Watch and Do Nothing? by Jeff Truesdell, People Crime
- Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt
- Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination by Sam Keen
- A rundown of Darley and Batson’s Good Samaritan Study at Socially Psyched
- Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT)
- Sex Abuse and the Catholic Church: Why Is It Still a Story? by Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times
- Dr. Zimbardo’s TED Talk: The Psychology of Evil
- Getting Comfortable With The Uncomfortable: 7 Simple Challenges to Try Today, The Scientist & The Hustler
- What Psychology Says about How You Should Respond to Racist Behaviour by Emma Thomas and Anne Pedersen, The Conversation
- Lying by Sam Harris and Annaka Harris
- An Overview of Time Perspective Types by John Boyd
- Take the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI)
- International Time Perspective Network
- What My Morning Journal Looks Like
- ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ Author Says a 3-Step Process He Learned from Tony Robbins Drastically Improved His Life by Richard Feloni, Business Insider (explaining how I use Tony Robbins’ Dickens Process)
- Dr. Zimbardo gives us the background to his legacy (“for better or for worse”): The 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment. [07:31]
- Reflecting on the similarities between the Stanford Prison Experiment and abuses at Abu Ghraib. [13:46]
- On everyday heroes and resisting the temptation of evil and the power of the group. [17:48]
- Celebrating the banality of heroism (in contrast to Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil”). [19:32]
- Ordinary people as heroes in training, and The Heroic Imagination Project. [20:28]
- “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” -Archilochus [21:32]
- “All evil begins with fifteen volts.” — What the Milgram experiment tells us about mindlessly taking the first step. [24:22]
- Dehumanization of others. [26:26]
- De-individualization of self (anonymity). [30:14]
- Diffusion of personal responsibility. [32:05]
- Blind obedience to authority. “Be wary of authorities wearing false lab coats!” [36:57]
- Practicing mindful disobedience. [38:45]
- Uncritical conformity to group norms. [40:34]
- Comfort challenges and being a deviant for a day. [42:05]
- Passive tolerance of evil through inaction or indifference. “Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.” -Ayaan Hirsi Ali [45:20]
- Perception of time and its impact on our decisions. [47:57]
- Using time perspective therapy to treat PTSD. [53:54]
- How an early copy of The Time Paradox had a monumental impact on my own routines and perspective. [57:03]
- The Dickens Process. [58:15]
- What is the difference between altruism and heroism? [1:00:44]
- How the early end of the Stanford Prison Experiment ties in with heroism. [1:02:11]
- Donald Wildmon
- Tony Robbins
- Daniel Kahneman
- Stanley Milgram
- Craig Haney
- W. Curtis Banks
- David Jaffe
- Kitty Genovese
- Hannah Arendt
- Adolf Eichmann
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Nelson Mandela
- Martin Luther King Jr.
- Mother Teresa
- Joseph Goebbels
- Sam Keen
- John M. Darley
- C. Daniel Batson
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali
- Sam Harris
- John Boyd
- Christina Maslach
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.