Search This Blog

Feb 29, 2008

more on heroes

sparky-080228a, originally uploaded by beachblogger42.

Professor Philip Zimbardo, creator of the famous Stanford Prison Experiment in the 1971 which put students into a prison setting, randomly chosen to be either guards or prisoners.

Wired: You've said that the way to prevent evil actions is to teach the "banality of kindness" -- that is, to get society to exemplify ordinary people who engage in extraordinary moral actions. How do you do this?

Zimbardo: If you can agree on a certain number of things that are morally wrong, then one way to counteract them is by training kids. There are some programs, starting in the fifth grade, which get kids to think about the heroic mentality, the heroic imagination.

To be a hero you have to take action on behalf of someone else or some principle and you have to be deviant in your society, because the group is always saying don't do it; don't step out of line. If you're an accountant at Arthur Andersen, everyone who is doing the defrauding is telling you, "Hey, be one of the team."

Heroes have to always, at the heroic decisive moment, break from the crowd and do something different. But a heroic act involves a risk. If you're a whistle-blower you're going to get fired, you're not going to get promoted, you're going to get ostracized. And you have to say it doesn't matter.

Most heroes are more effective when they're social heroes rather than isolated heroes. A single person or even two can get dismissed by the system. But once you have three people, then it's the start of an opposition.

So what I'm trying to promote is not only the importance of each individual thinking "I'm a hero" and waiting for the right situation to come along in which I will act on behalf of some people or some principle, but also, "I'm going to learn the skills to influence other people to join me in that heroic action."

wired story

more on boingboing

1 comment:

    'Ordinary people doing extraordinary things'...and the idea that we can all be heros if we start thinking like heroes...and Teaching It! What a concept!
    There was thing on one of those channels the good people watch (weboing joke)PBS or the History Channel...with zimbardo on that prison experiment. He brought his girlfriend over to watch and she kinda freaked...I think she may have said "ta ta for now" even...

    I remember learning about this in high school psych class and thinking "I'd never do that" that I'm a grown up I just think "I hope I'd never do that"

    I like the thought of Hero Potential...that we think like a hero and we look for the opportunity to Be One...probably a dozen or so "little hero acts" equal one medium one, and so on...

    Well, I'm lookin'...thanks for this nudge in that direction :)


One Million Peace Signs on YouTube!