Why would four young men watch their friend die, when they could have intervened to save him? Why would a woman obey phone commands from a stranger to strip-search an innocent employee? What makes ordinary people perpetrate extraordinary abuses, like the events at Abu Ghraib?
Answers to these contemporary questions can be found in past social psychology experiments. The Milgram obedience experiment shocked the world by proving that most people were willing to kill fellow human beings if an authority figure was held accountable. A famous diffusion-of-responsibility experiment sought to understand why 38 people who witnessed a brutal murder in New York did nothing to help. Finally, the Stanford Prison experiment showed how the world of the jail could transform a decent, moral person into a brutal, sadistic guard.
Documentarian Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) revisits these three famous behavioral studies to explore some perennial questions about why human beings commit unethical acts under particular social conditions. After seeing this film, you may never say "bad apples" again.
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