Table of contents:
- 1. "I made a mistake!"
- 2. "I am alert"
- 3. "I am responsible"
- 4. "I assert my uniqueness"
- 5. "I respect authority, but do not submit to unjust authorities"
- 6. "I strive to be accepted into the group, but value my own independence"
- 7. "I will be more vigilant about framing."
- 8. "I will adjust my perception of time"
- 9. "I will not sacrifice personal or civil liberties for the illusion of security."
- 10. "I can resist an unjust system"
- So how to resist environmental influences
Video: How To Resist The Influence Of The Environment: 10 Installations From Philip Zimbardo - Self-development, Society
The Stanford Prison Experiment, where ordinary people turned into sadists in a matter of days, still remains relevant. The main conclusion reached by Philip Zimbardo, the author of the experiment, is how easily a person falls under the influence of the system and begins to play by its rules. Whether it's a toxic family or bullying in the classroom, an army, a sect, or a destructive work collective - when they find themselves in a system of violence, many people begin to do terrible things not because they are naturally sadistic. They are hypnotized by the halo of power emanating from their superiors, they join the majority (which, of course, cannot be mistaken), they believe in false slogans that cover up terrible deeds …
Under the influence of many factors, a person can perform actions that he will be ashamed of in the future. In his book The Lucifer Effect, which is about how society turns ordinary people into villains, Philip Zimbardo cites 10 attitudes. By sticking to them, you will not fall under the control of a destructive group - or leave it before the consequences become inevitable.
1. "I made a mistake!"
Psychiatrist Robert J. Lifton writes about the shock doctors experienced when they got to work in a concentration camp. More experienced colleagues encouraged them like this: "What is better for a prisoner: to die in shit or go to heaven on a cloud of gas?" If a person is drawn into unkind deeds, he faces a powerful temptation: to rationalize the situation, to look for excuses and excuses. It’s much more correct to honestly admit to myself: I made a mistake, I am doing the wrong things. So there is a chance to get out of the vicious circle, and not continue to do evil, convincing yourself that nothing bad is actually happening.
2. "I am alert"
Talking to a fraudster who is trying to gain access to your card can be very much like talking to a real bank representative. However, there will still be a couple of hooks in the conversation that your critical eye will catch on - provided that you remain alert. After all, we often act mechanically, imposing patterns on a new situation that worked for the old one - but this can lead to an error. Zimbardo recommends avoiding life on autopilot. From time to time, you need to take a break in the Zen style: put the stream of thoughts on pause, go beyond the situation, evaluate it from the outside and think about how to proceed. When you start asking uncomfortable questions, demanding proof, clarifying, doubting, then the people who plan to use you may laugh at you or try to crush you with authority. However, critical thinking always pays off.
3. "I am responsible"
One of the traps that a bad conscience tries to drive us into is the idea of collective responsibility. “I just followed the order”, “everyone does it” - such attitudes help to come to an agreement with a bad conscience, but the guilt is not removed. Zimbardo advises to always maintain a sense of personal responsibility. A person who is used to being responsible for his actions will not blindly submit to authority. He, like no one else, understands that statements of collective responsibility are one of the means of involving an individual in horrific acts. And when the time comes to take responsibility for your actions, the excuse "everyone did this" will serve as a weak defense.
4. "I assert my uniqueness"
Anonymity - hence impunity - creates a breeding ground for abuse. In the Stanford Prison Experiment, Zimbardo repeatedly emphasized the role of large mirrored glasses, hiding the faces of the guards like masks. If the system seeks to reduce the personality to a soulless screw, then with the help of this screw it can do whatever it wants. “Don't let others belittle your uniqueness, place you in a category, in a box, turn you into a cog, an object … Look for common ground with leaders, emphasize what unites you,” advises Zimbardo. It is necessary not only to get rid of negative stereotypes yourself, but also to encourage others to do this. Offensive nicknames and jokes are not nearly as harmless as they seem. First we reduce a person or a group of people to the level of an inanimate object or animal, and then we begin to justify any cruelty towards them. For example, during the genocide in Rwanda, the Hutus called on their fellows to "exterminate cockroaches" and "cut down tall trees" - that is, to destroy their Tutsi neighbors.
5. "I respect authority, but do not submit to unjust authorities"
The halo of power is hypnotizing, but it's always helpful to ask yourself if your superiors have the right to give you orders - and what drives them. What is the basis of the authority of the superior? It's one thing if his credibility is based on wisdom, professionalism, or impressive merit. Another is if you have an upstart in front of you, who requires submission, without proper reason for it. Zimbardo recalls how important it is to "remain wise and resilient, resisting unworthy power, so you can avoid" mindless obedience to impostors whose claims do not align with our interests."
6. "I strive to be accepted into the group, but value my own independence"
The person strives to be part of the group, and rejection affects him terrifyingly. Therefore, when a team demands “to be like everyone else”, to act in accordance with its norms, to openly share its values and beliefs, a person can easily sacrifice a part of their individuality. But what if the required sacrifice is too high and the group itself is destructive? For a resident of a totalitarian state, refusal to merge with society threatened with death, but the elections of our time are much less dramatic. Zimbardo recommends finding a group that supports your independence and shares your values.
7. "I will be more vigilant about framing."
The popular phrase is that the fascists of the future will call themselves anti-fascists. If toxic groups were to openly declare their evil intentions, the success of many of them would tend to zero. Therefore, they can cover up their true goals with slogans about good, justice and punishment of evil. Framing a situation can easily mislead us. “We don't want a 40 percent chance of losing X and Y, but we want a 60 percent chance of winning Y and X,” Zimbardo gives an example that clearly shows how easily we can be manipulated with framing. In this case, critical thinking again comes to the rescue - our faithful companion when watching advertisements, and when reading the news, and when interacting with the team.
8. "I will adjust my perception of time"
When you are inside a destructive situation, it may seem to you that it will last forever - but this is an illusion. School bullying ends sooner or later, the bad boss leaves his hometown, his term of service in the army comes to an end. And even those inhabitants of Nazi Germany who believed that the Reich would last forever were mistaken. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, it is useful to imagine on your hand the ring of King Solomon with the inscription "This too will pass." Always keep in mind the moral standards you have guided in the past and keep a picture of the future in mind. It was these attitudes that the Dutch were guided by, that they hid Jews from the Nazis. Memories of the past and thoughts of the future helped them resist social pressure and fear.
9. "I will not sacrifice personal or civil liberties for the illusion of security."
Our need for security is easy to manipulate. By convincing of the existence of a threat and promising protection, evil forces can force us to do completely unthinkable things. Firstly, if some "they" want to destroy the peaceful and kind "us", it remains only to attack first - of course, in order to protect. So in the famous "Speech on Total War" in 1943, Goebbels declared that the Reich was only defending Europe from the chaos and "capitalist tyranny" of Bolshevism. Secondly, we may be offered to exchange some of our personal and civil freedoms for security - of course, in the end we will be deprived of both. And Erich Fromm recalls that the calls to sacrifice civil liberties for the sake of security, to make a collective sacrifice for the sake of the country's interests is the first step of the fascist leader.
10. "I can resist an unjust system"
Remember Asch's experiment? The group was asked to correlate the lengths of different lines, with all but one person being decoy ducks and occasionally giving incorrect answers. 75% of the subjects at least once followed the lead of the group and answered not at all what their eyes saw. But if one more person appeared in the group, always giving the correct answers, the number of errors and subjects dropped by 4 times. Therefore, Zimbardo encourages you to look for like-minded people - this will not only give you strength in defending your independence, but also allow more and more people involved to switch to the right side. Even if it seems to you that all members of the group share its destructive values, this is often not the case. For example, in a class where a student is being bullied, there are many students who internally disagree with what is happening, but are afraid to oppose,so as not to become the next victim. A loud voice "against" can become exactly the knuckle that will destroy the entire chain of dominoes. “The system can declare the resistance of a loner to be delirium and madness. She may regard two opponents as victims of a common mania, but if there are already three of you, you become a force, and you will have to be reckoned with,”Zimbardo writes.
So how to resist environmental influences
It is very difficult to resist the influence of a destructive group. However, even if it seems to you that you have fallen into a trap from which there is no way out, this is not so. Sooner or later the situation will end, and you will have to deal with its consequences and be horrified: "How could I (la) do such things?" Evaluate the situation from the outside, do not be afraid to defend your self and ask uncomfortable questions, do not lose critical thinking and look for like-minded people. Leave toxic situations or look for ways to change them - then you can wear the proud title of hero.