Philip Zimbardo starts out his brief presentation by defining life, which he considers to be full of temptation. He then transitions into how these temptations relate to time, and how people perceive life through “time perspectives,” which are unique to each individual. There are three time perspectives and two sub-categories within each one. Consider how balancing these time perspectives can influence success in life.

Why you should listen:

Philip Zimbardo knows what evil looks like. After serving as an expert witness during the Abu Ghraib trials, he wrote The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. From Nazi comic books to the tactics of used-car salesmen. Still well-known for his controversial Stanford Prison Experiment, Zimbardo in his new research looks at thepsychologyofher­oism. He asks, “What pushes some people to become perpetrators of evil, while others act heroically on behalf of those in need?”

Who is he:

A past president of the American Psychological Association and a professor emeritus at Stanford, Zimbardo retired in 2008 from lecturing, after 50 years of teaching his legendary introductory course in psychology. In addition to his work on evil and heroism, Zimbardo recently published The Time Paradox, exploring different cultural and personal perspectives on time.


  1. According to Zimbardo, what is life?
  1. Zimbardo describes differences between the children who decided to have one marshmallow rather than waiting for two. What are those differences?
  1. What are “time perspectives” and how do they influence our lives?
  1. What are the sub-components of each time perspective?
  1. Which sub-components should not be part of our lives, and why?
  1. In what ways does Zimbardo’s perspective of time relate to Gestalt psychology, specifically Kurt Lewin’s view of time?

The Psychology of Time with Philip Zimbardo


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