Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

The Secret Powers of Time

Social psychologist Philip Zimbardo has some interesting observations and insights about time perspective and how it affects our work, health and well-being, all set to a well-orchestrated animation for a talk he gave at the RSA. The clip is a ten minute animation via

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Zimbardo’s bio from

Philip Zimbardo – Philip Zimbardo is internationally recognized as a leading “voice and face of contemporary psychology” through his widely seen PBS-TV series, “Discovering Psychology,” his media appearances, best-selling trade books on shyness, and his classic research, The Stanford Prison Experiment.

Zimbardo has been a Stanford University professor since 1968 (now an Emeritus Professor), having taught previously at Yale, NYU, and Columbia University. He continues teaching graduate students at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, and at the Naval Post Graduate School (Monterey). He has been given numerous awards and honors as an educator, researcher, writer, and service to the profession. Recently, he was awarded the Havel Foundation Prize for his lifetime of research on the human condition. Among his more than 300 professional publications and 50 books is the oldest current textbook in psychology, Psychology and Life, now in its 18th Edition, and Core Concepts in Psychology in its 5th Edition.

His current research interests continue in the domain of social psychology, with a broad emphasis on everything interesting to study from shyness to time perspective, madness, cults, vandalism, political psychology, torture, terrorism, and evil. Noted for his personal and professional efforts to actually “give psychology away to the public,” Zimbardo has also been a social-political activist, challenging the Government’s wars in Vietnam and Iraq, as well as the American Correctional System.

Zimbardo has served as elected President of the Western Psychological Association (twice), President of the American Psychological Association, the Chair of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) representing 63 scientific, math and technical associations (with 1.5 million members), and now is Chair of the Western Psychological Foundation.

He heads a philanthropic foundation in his name to promote education in his ancestral Sicilian towns. Zimbardo adds to his retirement list activities: serving as the new executive director of a center on terrorism, the Center for Interdisciplinary Policy, Education, and Research on Terrorism (CIPERT).

He is also the author of The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (Random House, 2007).

Cross-posted at PULSE


4 comments on “The Secret Powers of Time

  1. MRW
    30 June, 2010

    This is wonderful.

  2. Ann
    1 July, 2010

    As a Catholic, the claim that Protestants are God’s Chosen People is news to me :P (Jews don’t even factor in, in this friendly interdenominational rivalry). Seriously, its interesting to see what, if any, economic effect the vaunted Protestant Ethic may still have on economic and development indices (what about countries like Germany, which is both Catholic and Protestant — roughly 30% each — and is in the top five of the world’s largest exporters the world’s second largest exporter)?

    And, outside crude economic indicators, who is actually happier? I wonder if the more happily hedonistic present-positive southern Italians aren’t happier despite a lower GDP? What’s the use of a higher income and mod cons if you have an early heart attack from working so hard and aren’t around to enjoy it?

    Here’s a breakdown of the religious make-up of various countries.

  3. Monte
    2 July, 2010

    Astonishing and wonderfully stimulating video!
    As an American of non-Catholic descent (I am unwilling to be a “protestant,” I guess, which seems like a term that describes something that happened a long time ago), I’m embarrassed to say that the “God’s Chosen People” idea is closely linked to many Americans’ national self-image of the USA as a protestant country. George Bush idolatrously described the USA as “the light of the world” – usurping the title Jesus Christ gave himself – and Bible-loving evangelicals mainly cheered. Evangelicalism is absorbed with a Constantinian view of national religion.
    The famed “religious right” is sharply divided into Catholic and Protestant divisions. While they (theoretically) agree on abortion, they disagree on loads of other issues, especially the Catholic embrace of social action on behalf of the poor, on immigration, on environment, on peace, and on the role of government in all the above. All of the latter, you’ll note, are sharply impacted by time-related foundational issues: Am I mainly here to make things better for others or am I here to work hard and make a fortune for myself and my family? Indeed, our nation was founded by Protestant white males with a Constitution designed primarily to protect their own property rights. The Jacksonian roots of the Tea Party movement value personal property rights as the sine qua non of “freedom,” and see those rights as outweighing the rights of, for instance, racial equality or equal economic opportunity or access to health care. I think, though, that most TP activists don’t recognize these implications of their libertarian outlook.
    I find it terribly ugly; it’s roots, to me, are simply religion-sanctioned selfishness.
    Great post – thanks!

  4. Ann
    3 July, 2010

    Interesting insights, dear friend, and especially so reflecting upon them in the lead-up to Sunday (Happy 4th July).

    Just added: thought you might appreciate this Andy Singer cartoon.

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This entry was posted on 30 June, 2010 by in Animation, Christianity, Culture, Psychology, Work and tagged .

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"