7 December 2017
Psychologists define Evil as the exercise of power to intentionally harm someone physically or mentally. The question of whether humans are naturally inclined to evil is one that the scientific community seeks to answer. Phillip Zambardo’s Ted talk “The Psychology of Evil” addresses this topic by highlighting the fluidity with which the intentions of human can change. To explain the mobility of human intention Zumbardo highlighted the how Lucifer, once Gods favorite angel, was exiled heaven for disobeying god, later becoming the symbolic figure of evil. He discusses how many privileged people believe that the line between good and evil is fixed, when in reality people cross the line of good and evil. Zambardo backs his claims by emphasizing three classic psychological studies, one of which was a study he conducted.
The first study he discussed was the investigation of the abuse and humiliation of prisoners by U.S. soldiers in Abu Grab. The graphic images taken by the soldiers themselves, demonstrates how even people like soldiers, who are generally thought of in high regard, can exhibit evil behaviors. Soldiers beat and humiliated the prisoners, forcing them remove there clothes. These measures were intended to “soften” the prisoners and prepare them for interrogation. In this incident the soldiers exhibit behaviors of symbolic internationalism in that they associate themselves with the setting that they are in. In this case, the soldiers who represent absolute authority figures increasingly enforced their power over the prisoners as they began to identify themselves with the power they were given. This investigation highlights how a shift in power can influence the good and evil tendencies of an individual.
The Abu Grab incident...