Philip Zimbardo

Critical Situations 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.

Through Howard’s hands-on research experience and scientific knowledge, he has an insider’s understanding of the potential of the dialogue format to engage with research material. By combining his skills as both interviewer and editor, he has been able to create high-quality pedagogical resources that are relevant to students at all levels and the wider research community.”Philip Zimbardo

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

  1. Origins – Humble beginnings
  2. A Formative Quarantine – Developing social survival skills
  3. Increasing Awareness – South Bronx rituals and Halloween distinctions
  4. Situation Stanford – The 1971 Stanford Prison Study
  5. The Aftermath –  Reactions and responses
  6. Outright Denial – Abu Ghraib and the myth of “bad apples”
  7. Learning Our Lessons? –  Towards a deeper level of awareness
  8. The Flip Side – The Heroic Imagination Project
  9. Spreading The Word – Cultivate heroes, and broader understanding 
  10. A New Gender Gap – Where have all the boys gone?


Now available in electronic format on:


Critical Situations is also available as part of the five-part Ideas Roadshow Collection called Conversations About Social Psychology in both paperback and electronic format.

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We’ve produced two videos of this extensive conversation which are now available on Vimeo On Demand called Critical Situations: The Evolution of a Situational Psychologist, Part 1 and Critical Situations: The Evolution of a Situational Psychologist, Part 2.