Philip George Zimbardo (/zɪmˈbɑːrdoʊ/; born March 23, 1933) is an American psychologist and a professor emeritus at Stanford University.He became known for his 1971 Stanford prison experiment, which was later severely criticised for both ethical and scientific reasons. He has authored various introductory psychology textbooks for college students, and other notable works, including The Lucifer Effect, The Time Paradox, and The Time Cure. He is also the founder and president of the Heroic Imagination Project.
Zimbardo was born in New York City on March 23, 1933, to a family of Italian immigrants from Sicily. Early in life he experienced discrimination and prejudice, growing up poor on welfare and being Italian. He was often mistaken for other races and ethnicities such as Jewish, Puerto Rican or black. Zimbardo has said these experiences early in life triggered his curiosity about people's behavior, and later influenced his research in school.
He completed his B.A. with a triple major in psychology, sociology, and anthropology from Brooklyn College in 1954, where he graduated summa cum laude. He completed his M.S. (1955) and Ph.D. (1959) in psychology from Yale University, where Neal E. Miller was his advisor.
He taught at Yale from 1959 to 1960. From 1960 to 1967, he was a professor of psychology at New York University College of Arts & Science. From 1967 to 1968, he taught at Columbia University. He joined the faculty at Stanford University in 1968.