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Deviant Behavior - Essay Example

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In The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil, psychologist Philip Zimbardo shows compellingly that human beings bear, as a group, borderline personality disorder. The main argument of the book is somewhat evident: situational forces, in contrast to personal or dispositional…
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Deviant Behavior
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Deviant Behavior

It is the contention of this paper that the issue of deindividuation has been inadequately explained and justified by Zimbardo in the book.
Zimbardo sets off with a thorough account of the well-known Standford Prison Experiment. He also analyzes numerous social psychological theories and works pertinent to the problem of evil, or the reason individuals take part in dehumanizing, violent, and hostile behaviors. All stages of the study presents further substantiation of his situationist assumption. He afterwards relates it to the US combatants’ mistreatment of Abu Ghraib (Wargo 2006). Even though understandable at some aspects in the book that people have to be culpable for their actions, Zimbardo presents compelling ideas and proofs that systems, as well, have to be culpable. Furthermore, the behavior of an individual should be valued in the perspective of their immediate environment.
However not all scholars would confirm that the research subjects of Zimbardo undergoes deindividuation as such. Several researchers have looked for other reasons for why persons collectively are susceptible to disruptive or aggressive behavior. It is possible that modeling is a critical process (Abelson, Frey, & Gregg 2004). Some of the questions left by Zimbardo in relation to the problem of deindividuation are: (1) does a threatening form of infectivity take place in a group in which members mechanically activate each other’s reckless conduct; (2) when lights are abruptly turned off in a department store, does one quickly begin stealing as much expensive products as possible because other people are seen to be taking part in the same agitated conduct? Scholars have been baffled by the potential contribution of ‘responsibility’. For instance, would deliberately changing the responsibility of a group member drive one to even higher intensities of unrestrained conduct?
Being in a group can result in increased stimulation, a feeling of anonymity, ... Read More
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