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The experiment that inspired a novel, two films, countless TV programs, re-enactments and even a band. " The vilest deeds like poison weeds bloom well in prison air " - Oscar Wilde. The best psychological experiments ask timeless questions about human nature, like what makes a person evil?
A modern test of an ancient bible story demonstrates the power of situations to trump personality in determining behaviour. A fundamental mistake we often make when judging other people is assuming that their behaviour mainly reflects their personality. Unfortunately this ignores another major influence on how people behave staring us right in the face: the situation. Our personalities certainly have an influence on what situations we get into and how we deal with them, but situational factors — even relatively subtle ones — can completely obliterate the effects of personality.