Philip Zimbardo: The Man Who Created a Prison

Philip Zimbardo was born on March 23rd, 1933, in New York City. In 1954, Zimbardo earned his bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College, where he triple-majored in psychology, sociology, and anthropology. He then attended Yale, where he earned his MA in psychology in 1955, and his Ph.D. in psychology in 1959.

After briefly teaching at Yale, Zimbardo taught as a psychology professor at New York University until 1967. He then spent a year teaching at Columbia University; and in 1968, he became a faculty member at Stanford University, where he remained until his retirement in 2003 (though his last lecture was given in 2007). It was at Stanford University that Zimbardo’s most important and influential work, the Stanford Prison Experiment, was performed in 1971.

While the Stanford Prison Experiment is what he is most known for, Zimbardo has also conducted research on heroism, shyness, and cult behavior, and has published over fifty books. Zimbardo was elected president of the American Psychological Association in 2002 and is the founder of the Heroic Imagination Project. The Project aims to inspire heroic behavior and to understand what makes some people turn towards acts of evil while others turn towards acts of heroism.