Forty-four years ago, I conducted a research experiment that could have been the bane of my existence. Instead, what has become known as the Stanford prison experiment (SPE) drove me to extensively pursue the question: Why do good people do evil things? After three decades of research on this subject, I recorded my findings in The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (Random House, 2007). But the SPE also lead me to study why, in difficult situations, some people heroically step forward to help others – oftentimes complete strangers – while others stand by and watch. The psychological time warp experienced by participants of the SPE – not knowing if it was… (to read more)

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