Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

Seven Social Processes that Grease the Slippery Slope of Evil

Posted by Chris on March 8, 2009

  • Mindlessly taking the first small step
  • Dehumanization of others
  • De-individuation of self (anonymity)
  • Diffusion of personal responsibility
  • Blind Obedience to Authority
  • Uncritical conformity to group norms
  • Passive tolerance of evil through inaction or indifference

All of this in new or unfamiliar situations.

This was a list created by Philip Zimbardo.  You can view his TED talk here.  It’s about how circumstances determine evil rather than people being set as either good or bad apples.  His primary recent example is the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal.  What would drive people we thought were good soldiers to do this?  A combination of things opened the pathway, including superiors who turned a blind eye because they wanted to soften up the detainees for interrogation, being located in an area rarely visited, working the night shift, etc…

It’s not all grim as he also hypothesizes that the “Lucifer Effect” (also the name of a book he’s written) can also be wielded to turn people into heroes, rather than monsters.

If you’ve ever heard of the Stanford Prison experiment (very famous, perhaps infamous, psychology experiment back in the 60s or 70s), this is the guy who created and ran that experiment.  Check out the talk, it’s about 23 minutes in length.

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One Response to “Seven Social Processes that Grease the Slippery Slope of Evil”

  1. rv news said

    Hello there! This article could not be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him.

    Pretty sure he’s going to have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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