The Stanford prison experiment came out of class exercises in which I encouraged students to understand the dynamics of prison life.
I started studying shyness in adults in 1972. Shyness operates at so many different levels. Out of that research came the Stanford shyness clinic in 1977.
Time perspective is one of the most powerful influences on all of human behavior. We’re trying to show how people become biased to being exclusively past-, present- or future-oriented.
I have been primarily interested in how and why ordinary people do unusual things, things that seem alien to their natures. Why do good people sometimes act evil? Why do smart people sometimes do dumb or irrational things?
At North Hollywood High School, I was shunned by everyone. I would sit down in the cafeteria, and students would get up from the table and walk away. They thought I was from the Mafia.
Prejudice and discrimination have always been a big part of my life. When I was 6, I got beat up and called dirty Jew boy because they thought I looked Jewish.
What happens when good people are put into an evil place? Do they triumph or does the situation dominate their past history and morality?
The line between good and evil is permeable and almost anyone can be induced to cross it when pressured by situational forces.
What troubles me is the Internet and the electronic technology revolution. Shyness is fueled in part by so many people spending huge amounts of time alone, isolated on e-mail, in chat rooms, which reduces their face-to-face contact with other people.
The level of shyness has gone up dramatically in the last decade. I think shyness is an index of social pathology rather than a pathology of the individual.
Careers in virtually all academic disciplines are fostered by being a superstar who knows more about one subject than anyone else in the world.
Situational variables can exert powerful influences over human behavior, more so that we recognize or acknowledge.
Heroes are those who can somehow resist the power of the situation and act out of noble motives, or behave in ways that do not demean others when they easily can.
I was discriminated against because I was Jewish, Italian, black and Puerto Rican. But maybe the worst prejudice I experienced was against the poor. I grew up on welfare and often had to move in the middle of the night because we couldn’t pay the rent.