Meeting a celebrity and witnessing them in action is a universally sought after experience, with some even paying ludicrous amounts just to do that. On the 20th of March, a few 6th form students got this serendipitous opportunity, as we had the pleasure of being part of a Psychology conference held at the Emmanuel Centre. The celebrity in question was none other than Philip Zimbardo, well known for his ethically immoral yet highly beneficial Stanford Prison Experiment (1971). This was a simulated scenario where university students played the role of prisoners and guards, with the results shocking the world.
This conference was divided quite clearly into 4 sections, with renowned psychologists like Phil Banyard, Sergio Della Sala and many others enriching us with their extensive knowledge. There seemed to be a consensus that the most riveting out of all the lectures came from Phil Banyard, who rather than focusing on the psychology tried to explain ‘Who am I?’ in 45 minutes with light jokes and a kind smile. In the beginning, he promised us that he would give us 6 life changing words to overcome the stress of being a student, and surprisingly he managed to deliver on his promise.
These 6 words were: Frankly, I don’t give a toss!
The room erupted in laughter, but it left a great impression on all of us as it was easy to relate to what he said. The theory was simple; stress comes from caring so the logical solution is not to care.
Afterwards, Cara Flanagan (who delved deeper into the ‘Nurture and Nature’ argument), and Sala who amazed us with seemingly magical tricks and emphasised the importance of needing evidence to state that a claim is indeed true, we finally arrived at the moment were we could meet Zimbardo. Zimbardo and his wife (Christina Maslach) were both present to this occasion, with Zimbardo focusing on ‘The Lucifer Effect’ and on ‘Shyness’ with the latter interesting me personally more as studies on such a topic are rare and few. Maslach explained to us the concept of ‘Burnout’ which can affect the workplace environment due to 6 factors. However, what made this day memorable were the anecdotes that they told us during intermissions, such as how Zimbardo proposed, or the fight that they had after Maslach witnessed for herself the Stanford Prison Experiment.
Overall, it was a great day and we even got the chance to sing Happy Birthday to the man himself as he will be turning 85 on the 23rd of March!
Nisrin Abdullah 12B