The Lucifer Effect

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Psychology ・APA ・2 Sources

In many circumstances, we find ourselves judging those who do bad acts like murder and concluding that they are naturally wicked. A closer examination of our personalities, however, reveals radically diverse viewpoints on our results. It is critical to imagine ourselves in these people's situations and honestly ask ourselves whether we would act differently or whether the circumstances around us would push us to do things we never knew we were capable of. Most of the time, humans pick their course of action based on the influences around them and choose to obey authority without analyzing whether it is good or wrong. The Lucifer effect is a concept developed by Philip Zimbardo in his attempt to understand the process of transformation at work when good or ordinary people do bad or evil things (Zimbardo, 14).He conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment, as a simulation of a real prison, to understand how this process occurs. Then, Zimbardo compared the findings of his experiments to what happened in real life in Abu Ghraib, Iraq where prisoners were abused by some rogue conclusion, Zimbardo argues that ''Humans are susceptible to the powers of situation'' (Hong, 55).Additionally he notes that all humans have a great potential to be significantly transformed by the forces of the society they are in.

Additionally human beings follow authority without question because of a desire to belong and have an emotional need to complete our duties without failure which results from our upbringing where failure was punished (Hong, 55). This also pushes people to do evil things to others who are in most cases deemed inferior.
In order to avoid extreme situations that push people to do evil things, it is important for leaders to put in place the right systems that prevent people from reaching the tipping point of evil. Subjects to any leader also have a responsibility of helping the leader to create ethical systems. Individually, every person has to be careful all the time looking out for evil forces that may control them and make choices of not allowing such forces to influence them.


Even though the SPE not an ideal situation to draw conclusions from, I support the argument that Humans are highly influenced by the situations they find themselves in. in my opinion, it is true that the social forces around us can cause most of us to undergo a character transformation if we do not take it upon ourselves to take control instead of letting them control us. For instance, prison guards at Abu Ghraib changed into abusing the prisoners because they had power over them and were also obeying the authority in charge of the prison. We obey authority without questioning whether what we are doing is right or wrong because it is deeply instilled in us as children where failure to obey was punished with unpleasant consequences(Hong , 55).

The two incidences are a reflection of what happens in the society. Many leaders turn into ruthless dictators when their position is, threatened and acquire soldiers to enforce their rule Even though they were good people when assuming power. On their part, the soldiers obey without question the dictator because of the morals instilled in them as children.
This article is gives insight into the psychology of criminals and is a crucial part of helping the society to understand why people act in a given way under some situations that they find themselves in.


In summary, human beings are greatly influenced by the social forces around them to do evil to others and cause harm, a concept known as the Lucifer effect. In addition, most of people follow leaders without a questioning the moral stand of their decisions.


Hong, K. (2012).The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.

Zimbardo. (2007) .The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.

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