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Posts Tagged ‘Zimbardo’

Contributed by Charity Smith

“You’ve got to change your evil ways, baby, before I stop lovin’ you.”

On Monday, October 5th, roughly 1,100 audience members were greeted with the wise words of Carlos Santana, courtesy of Dr. Philip Zimbardo. Simple, yet sound advice, no? It is clearly a message Zimbardo took to heart when imparted to him by a powerful source of opposition, more than 40 years ago: his wife.

During Monday’s talk, hosted by the CCHP, Zimbardo gave a nod to his favorite ordinary hero, Dr. Christina Maslach, the under-celebrated whistle-blower of the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE). Maslach, who had previously been Zimbardo’s graduate student, was dating Zimbardo at the time of the SPE—likely making it doubly alarming to witness the scene she walked into on what would become the last night of the study. Zimbardo recounts this history-making moment in the clip below:

And with that, Zimbardo began his journey from the villain of the SPE to someone considerably more HIP. On the webpage for his newest endeavor, the Heroic Imagination Project (HIP), Zimbardo adds another title to his already crowded CV: Hero Cultivator. President and founder of HIP, Zimbardo describes the importance and communal nature of the program’s motto, Stand Up. Speak Out. Change the World., by imploring the audience to: “Change your perspective. ‘Me’ becomes ‘We,’ ‘I becomes us.’”

Counted in attendance were community members, professors, social workers, CCHP staff, and UA Board of Trustees members. However, in attendance there were none so important as the hundreds of folks that filled the rest of the room—the students. In addition to our own UA students, several groups made the trek from far and wide, including students from Stow-Munroe Falls, Mayfield, and Hayes high schools; Sinclair Community College; the College of Wooster; Ohio Wesleyan University; The Ohio State University; Tiffin University (featured in picture below); Thiel College; Penn State; University of Pittsburgh; and a host of others. A special “thank you” goes out to Chelsie Polcha and her partner Stephen, who joined us all the way from the University of South Florida—thank you, Chelsie and Stephen!

Tiffin Post

To these students, Zimbardo spoke directly. Using the story of a long-overdue conversation shared between he and a former student, Zimbardo imparted the importance of reaching out to others and expressing gratitude (contains adult language):

With so many young psychologists-in-the-making and social justice advocates of all generations in attendance, there is little doubt that Dr. Zimbardo’s legacy will be paid forward for generations to come.

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The staff and students of the CCHP would like to thank Dr. Zimbardo, not only for an amazing and inspiring evening, but also for his continued support of and generous donations to the CCHP. To hear Dr. Baker’s introduction and Zimbardo’s opening remarks regarding his appreciation of and contributions to the Center, watch here:

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–Contributed by Charity Smith

With Dr. Zimbardo’s upcoming visit to CCHP right around the corner (Oct. 5th, see website for details), you’d think I’d go the easy route and write about the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE). Check! Another item off my to-do list. Ok, admittedly, that’s pretty much what I intended to do…but then I got to thinking: how could my little blog post possibly compete with hearing about the SPE, straight from Zimbardo himself? Let’s face it, it couldn’t.

In searching for a new angle, I discovered that Zimbardo is the 2015 recipient of the Kurt Lewin Award—the namesake of which, is the very man whose groundbreaking research on group dynamics laid the foundation for both the SPE and Milgram’s (1963) famed (READ: infamous) obedience study. Here enter, Kurt Lewin—father of modern social psychology, pioneer researcher of human interactions, and psychologist extraordinaire. Thwarted again, my words cannot compete with those of Zimbardo, who so accurately and succinctly heralded Lewin as “probably the most influential figure in all of social psychology,” (1985).

Lewin, a Jewish immigrant who left Germany in 1933, posited that our behaviors are not simply inherent to our nature; they are the result of an interaction between ourselves (and all the contextual baggage that entails) and environment. This concept is woven throughout Resolving Social Conflicts: Selected Papers on Group Dynamics, a text published posthumously by Lewin’s wife in 1948. Divided into three sections and spanning Lewin’s work from 1935 to 1946, the text explores group dynamics, belongingness, and cultural oppression.

Part I, “Problems of Changing Culture,” explores what is needed for a culture to make effective and lasting change, particularly in relation to Germany and WWII. Perhaps the best synopsis of Lewin’s theories on conflict resolution (not to mention some timeless advice for all of us) comes from an amalgam of two articles, both found in this first section:

Lewin Quote_Page 52

Lewin Quote_Page 58

Part II, “Conflicts in Face-to-Face Groups,” Lewin discusses the impact of leadership styles on tension, conflict resolution, and behaviors resulting from group membership. Although he cites research on children, the below table and discussion of autocratic and democratic governance provides more than just the study’s findings. These results, which mirror the stark contrast between German and American rule, serve as a reminder of the space Lewin’s research holds in time: WWII.

Lewin Quote_Page 79Lewin Quote_Page 72

 

Part III, “Inter-Group Conflicts and Group Belongingness,” largely centers on the impact of prejudice and segregation on Jewish people during WWI and WWII. Spanning 1935-1946, and heavy with Lewin’s own views and minority status, these articles make salient the weight of oppression and contain concepts that are, sadly, timeless. Below he proffers both the problem and the solution:

Lewin Quote_Page 214

 

 

 

Lewin Quote_Page 215

Although I didn’t go the route of the SPE, the opportunity to read Lewin’s book brought to light the atrocities of the most horrific prison experiment of all: The Holocaust. With articles that explore this time period on a personal, psychological, and sociological level, Lewin not only defines how social evils arise, but provides us with a road map back to the humane.

 

Lewin, K. (1948). Resolving social conflicts: Selected papers on group dynamics. New York:   Harper & Bros.

Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology,    67, 371-378.

Zimbardo, P. G. (1985, June). Laugh where we must, be candid where we can. [A conversation   with Allen Funt.] Psychology Today, 19, 42-47.

 

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