Lucifer Effect Essay

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Lucifer Effect

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Most people who watch the news at night sit in awe of the cruelty of others. "How could he kill his boss?" "Why would a mother harm her children?" What is clear is that there is bad in the world -- and, of course, there is good as well -- but who are these bad people and were they ever good? Philip Zimbardo's work, the Lucifer Effect (2007), delves into precisely this topic. He notes that, "Lucifer, the 'light bearer,' was God's favorite angel until he challenged God's authority and was cast into Hell along with his band of fallen angels" (3). Thus we are led to consider the idea that the greatest evils are not executed by fanatics or what we would call "bad people," but rather by ordinary people who accepted an idea and participated in the idea while all the time believing that their actions were normal. One obvious example of this phenomenon might be the Nazis under Adolf Hitler who were brainwashed by his fundamentalist views that Jews were sub-human individuals. This paper will look at the Virginia Tech shootings in April of 2007, when a single gunman killed 32 students, staff and faculty, causing the deadliest shooting in U.S. history (Shapira & Jackman 2007) as well as the Stanley Milgram Experiment, creator of the electric "shock generator" used to test individuals' free will when it came to taking orders. What causes a person to walk onto a campus and go on a shooting/killing spree? Did Satan suddenly transform this young gunman? Will people hurt another if they are meant to believe that they are doing the right thing or if they are being told to do so by a superior?

TOPIC: Essay on Lucifer Effect Assignment

The "Lucifer effect," according to Zimbardo (2007), can lead ordinary people to commit unimaginable acts of violence and suffering of others. In considering the Virginia Tech shootings, it is believed that the gunman was initially looking for his girlfriend and that one of the first two people he shot may have been her (Hauser & O'Connnor 2007), but the gunman then went on to line students up in some classrooms and shoot them one by one (2007). In one classroom, the gunman came, left and then returned and the students were able to keep him by holding the door shut as the gunman fired shots through the door (2007). The scene sounds horrific. A single man with two handguns and not one ounce of morality or goodness left in him.

In Stanley Migram's experiment, Milgram wanted to find out how long someone (the 'teacher') would continue to give shocks to another individual ('learner-victim') if they are told to do so, even though the person could be seriously hurt (Stanley Milgram Experiment 2010). The experiment was designed to be a sort of response to the Nazi war criminals, who had claimed that they were 'just following orders' (Milgram Experiment Ethics 2010). Milgram was trying to find out whether or not people would really obey authority figures even when they knew that the instructions they were being given were not morally right.

Zimbardo (2007) posits that there are a variety of influences that cause people to do what they do. In… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Lucifer Effect" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Lucifer Effect.  (2010, November 13).  Retrieved August 4, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Lucifer Effect."  13 November 2010.  Web.  4 August 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Lucifer Effect."  November 13, 2010.  Accessed August 4, 2021.