Critical Situations: A Conversation with Philip Zimbardo

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Open Agenda Publishing, Oct 1, 2020 - Psychology - 67 pages
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This book is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Philip Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Stanford University. During this extensive conversation Philip Zimbardo relates his intriguing life history and the survival techniques that he developed from the particular dynamics of his upbringing in the Bronx to his quarantine experiences, his experiences with South Bronx gangs, and more. 

Further topics include his relationship with his former classmate Stanley Ingram and the impact the different experiences in his youth had on the development of his personal situational awareness and how that influenced his psychological research. After a detailed description of the notorious 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, Philip discusses what we have—and haven't—learned since then, the Abu Ghraib trial, his Heroic Imagination Project, and more.

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, Should Have Knowns, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

I. Origins - Humble beginnings

II. A Formative Quarantine - Developing social survival skills

III. Increasing Awareness - South Bronx rituals and Halloween distinctions

IV. Situation Stanford - The 1971 Stanford Prison Study

V. The Aftermath -  Reactions and responses

VI. Outright Denial - Abu Ghraib and the myth of “bad apples”

VII. Learning Our Lessons? -  Towards a deeper level of awareness

VIII. The Flip Side - The Heroic Imagination Project

IX. Spreading The Word - Cultivate heroes, and broader understanding 

X. A New Gender Gap - Where have all the boys gone?

About Ideas Roadshow Conversations Series: 

This book is part of an expanding series of 100+ Ideas Roadshow conversations, each one presenting a wealth of candid insights from a leading expert through a focused yet informal setting to give non-specialists a uniquely accessible window into frontline research and scholarship that wouldn't otherwise be encountered through standard lectures and textbooks. For other books in this series visit our website (


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The Conversation
A Formative Quarantine
Increasing Awareness
Situation Stanford
The Aftermath
Outright Denial
Learning Our Lessons?
The Flip Side
Spreading The Word
A New Gender

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About the author (2020)

Howard Burton, the founder and creator of Ideas Roadshow and Ideas on Film, holds a PhD in theoretical physics and an MA in philosophy. He was the Founding Executive Director of Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) from 1999-2007. During his time at PI, he also developed an extensive outreach programme for teachers, students and the general public. His experiences at developing the research and outreach mandates of the institute were described in the book, First Principles: Building Perimeter Institute, featuring a foreword by Nobel Laureate Roger Penrose.

Ideas Roadshow is an award-winning initiative, recipient of the London Book Fair International Excellence Award in 2018. Howard has hosted and filmed in-depth conversations with more than 100 of the world’s brightest thinkers, including 3 Nobel Laureates, across the arts, sciences, sports and games.

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