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Zimbardo was born to Sicilian parents, George Zimbardo and Margaret Bisicchia, grew up in New York City, in the South Bronx, and went to Monroe High School with Stanley Milgram. He earned his Bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College, and his Master's degree and Ph.D. from Yale University.
After teaching intensively at New York University, in 1968 he accepted a tenured position as professor of psychology at Stanford University. There he conducted the famed Stanford prison experiment, in which 24 normal college students were randomly assigned to be prisoners or guards in a mock prison located in the basement of the psychology building at Stanford (3 additional college students were selected as alternates, but did not participate in the experiment). The students quickly began acting out their roles, with "guards" becoming sadistic and the "prisoners" showing extreme depression and passivity.
Though planned to last for an entire two weeks, the experiment had to be terminated after only six days when graduate student Christina Maslach, then Zimbardo's girlfriend, watched live video feed of the experiment from his office and insisted the experiment be stopped. (Maslach has since married Zimbardo and is now a psychology professor at UC Berkeley.) The experiment led to theories about the importance of the social situation in individual psychology that are still controversial today.
After the experiment, Zimbardo turned to look for ways he could use psychology to help people and ended up founding The Shyness Clinic in Menlo Park, California, which treats shy behavior in adults and children. Zimbardo's research on shyness also led him to write several bestselling books on the topic.
Zimbardo is also the author of an introductory Psychology textbook, Psychology and Life, which is used in many American undergraduate psychology courses. He also hosted a PBS TV series titled Discovering Psychology which is used in many college telecourses and can be watched at learner.org.
In 2002, Zimbardo appeared in the reality television show The Human Zoo. Participants were observed inside a controlled setting while Zimbardo and a British psychologist analyzed their behavior.
That same year he was named president of the American Psychological Association. Under his direction, the organization developed the website PsychologyMatters.org, a compendium of psychological research that has applications for everyday life.
A recent interview with Zimbardo called "On 50 years of giving psychology away: An interview with Philip Zimbardo" was conducted by psychologist George Slavich.
Norine G. Johnson
|Philip Zimbardo elected APA President
Robert J. Sternberg
In November 2003, Zimbardo retired from Stanford, but he still returns each winter to teach "Exploring Human Nature", a sort of "greatest hits" course of his favorite topics.
In 2004, Zimbardo testified in the case of "Chip" Frederick, a guard at Abu Ghraib prison, arguing that Frederick's sentence should be lessened since Zimbardo's prison experiment had shown that few can resist the powerful situational pressures of a prison. The judge apparently disagreed and gave Chip the maximum sentence. Zimbardo is working on a book about the connection between Abu Ghraib and the prison experiments for a popular audience.
- Zimbardo, P.O. (1969) Influencing attitude and changing behavior;: A basic introduction to relevant methodology, theory, and applications (Topics in social psychology), Addison Wesley,
- Zimbardo, P.O.(1969)The Cognitive Control of Motivation. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman,
- Zimbardo, P.O.1972 Stanford prison experiment: A simulation study of the psychology of imprisonment, Philip G. Zimbardo, Inc.,
- Zimbardo, P.O.(1972) The psychology of imprisonment: privation, power and pathology, Stanford University
- Zimbardo, P.O. (1969), Influencing Attitudes and Changing Behavior. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley Publishing Co., ISBN 0075548097
- Zimbardo, P.O.(1970), Canvassing for Peace: A Manual for Volunteers. Ann Arbor, MI: Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, ISBN
- Zimbardo, P.O.(1977), Influencing Attitudes and Changing Behavior (2nd ed.). Reading, MA: Addison Wesley., ISBN
- Zimbardo, P.O. (1985) Cults go to high school: A theoretical and empirical analysis of the initial stage in the recruitment process, American Family Foundation,
- Zimbardo, P.O. (1990), Shyness: What It Is, What to Do About It, Addison Wesley, ISBN 0201550180
- Zimbardo, P.O.(1991),The Psychology of Attitude Change and Social Influence. New York: McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0877228523
- Zimbardo, P.O. Psychology (3rd Edition), Reading, MA: Addison Wesley Publishing Co., 1999, ISBN 0321034325
- Zimbardo, P.O. The Shy Child : Overcoming and Preventing Shyness from Infancy to Adulthood, Malor Books, 1999, ISBN 1883536219
- Zimbardo, P.O. (2002), Violence Workers: Police Torturers and Murderers Reconstruct Brazilian Attrocities. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, ISBN 0520234472
- Zimbardo, P.O.(2005), Psychology - Core Concepts, 5/e, Allyn & Bacon Publishing, ISBN 0205474454
- Zimbardo, P.O.(2005), Psychology And Life, 17/e, Allyn & Bacon Publishing, ISBN 020541799X
Chapters in books
- Zimbardo, P.O. (1969) The human choice: individuation, reason and order versus deindividuation, impulse and chaos. In: W.J. Arnold and D. Levine (eds) Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, no. 17, Lincoln, Nebr.: University of Nebraska Press.
- Official website
- "Exploring Human Nature" website
- Official website of Stanford prison experiment
- Summary and evaluation of the Stanford prison experiment
Zimbardo, Phil. 2009. Stanford Open Office Hours: Philip Zimbardo, Part 1. (Heroic Imagination/Insight - also here: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=614090435683). Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University.
Zimbardo, Phil. 2009. Stanford Open Office Hours: Philip Zimbardo, Part 2 (Evil & Time). ((Evil & Time - also here: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=615467086863). Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University.
Zimbardo, Phil. 2009. Stanford Open Office Hours: P. Zimbardo, Part 3 (Shyness/Heroism). (Shyness/Heroism - also here: http://facebook.com/video/video.php?v=616065342953). Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University.
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