Zimbardo's Essay: The Lucifer Effect

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Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility” (BrainyQuote). But what happens when the responsibility is shifted to someone else? When we can say, I did this because so and so told me so. This notion of shifted responsibility due to obedience leads to good people engaging in bad acts and become de-individualized from themselves. As Zimbardo says in his Ted talk, “Obedience to authority is ingrained in our culture and workplace. When someone in a position of authority asks an employee to do something unethical or illegal, they can find it difficult to say no. It's easier to justify bad behavior, and…show more content…
And to change it, you've got to know where the power is, in the system. So the Lucifer effect involves understanding human character transformations with these three factors. And it's a dynamic interplay. What do the people bring into the situation? What does the situation bring out of them? And what is the system that creates and maintains that situation?” (Zimbardo (2008). While Zimbardo leans more of evil as being situational where good people turn evil, his examples make Freud’s explanation of human propensity for evil as being innate. Zimbardo uses the “Lucifer Effect” to describe the point where good people cross the line between good and evil. But why do they cross the line? Do humans not have the ability to restrain themselves? Freud would argue that in fact humans aren’t trying to restrain themselves but to try and reach homeostasis. Humans are born evil and throughout life the death instinct and life instinct battle with each other, with good people doing bad things exemplifies that death instinct takes a lead from time to time even for human beings. Where people who were once able to repress their primitive impulses and labeled as being “good” eventually do loose the battle between good and evil. Which goes to show that within every good person lays evil and vice versa, thereby the ying yang

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