‘Kobe Bryant of Psychology’ Sends NAHS Teacher Surprise Shout-out

Christina Wong, Associate Editor

Shayla Spink
Through the help of one of her students, AP Psychology teacher Krista Bolinksy (right) receives a video shout-out from one of her all-time Psych heroes, Phil Zimbardo.

Phil Zimbardo is a renowned psychologist, known for his infamous Stanford Prison Experiment, but better known here at NAHS as one of AP Psychology teacher Krista Bolinsky’s favorite psychologists.  

For those who have not heard of Phil Zimbardo, Bolinsky jokingly described him as ‘the Kobe Bryant of Psychology,’ signifying how vital Zimbardo is to the field of psychology.

A special student, Rachel Poley, would make Bolinsky’s dream possible, by sending her a link that rendered speechless,“My mouth was open,” Bolinsky said. “I was shocked. I was in an altered state of consciousness awareness. It just made me cry.”

On Jan. 29th, Bolinsky sent a text via Remind to her AP students reminding them about their recent egg baby project.  Poley, a sophomore, replied to Bolinsky immediately, asking her to watch a video. Having no clue what the video entailed, Bolinsky clicked the video to see psychology’s legendary Phil Zimbardo on her screen.

A couple of hours before the video was sent to Bolinsky, Poley had emailed Zimbardo’s Stanford account, without much serious thought. “I did not think he was going to respond,” said Poley. “I was also very surprised how fast he replied, which was about an hour.” Zimbardo told Poley how he would love to send a video to Bolinsky and used the information she gave him to make a video that would amaze both Poley and Bolinsky on many levels.

Phil Zimbardo is notorious for conducting the Stanford Prison Experiment, a controversial experiment used to understand how roles in society can influence how one acts. 24 male Stanford students participated in a one-two week experiment, and were randomly assigned as a “guard” or “prisoner.” The experiment was shut down six days later, due to it becoming so unethical. Bolinsky’s favorite quote by Zimbardo is, “The line between good and evil is permeable, and almost anyone can be induced to cross it when pressured by situational forces.”

“Phil Zimbardo is a huge name in psychology, one of the most famous names in the last 50 years of psychology,” Bolinsky stated. “I like that he studies the study of evil and heroes. He looks at both sides of the coin. “

Poley was going to show Bolinsky the video the next day at school but couldn’t contain her excitement and sent it right away.

Bolinsky said, “I was in shock that he even sent it. When I was watching the video, I couldn’t stop smiling and words couldn’t even describe how I felt. It’s crazy to think a big psychologist like him, who of all people, in the field of psychology emailed me back.”

Before watching the video, Bolinsky quickly googled Zimbardo’s name to make sure the man in the video was really him. “When I saw his face, I thought that he had died because he’s 85 years old.” Bolinsky played the video and soon realized that Zimbardo had given her a shout out.

Poley wanted to make Bolinsky’s dream come true, which was for Zimbardo to recognize her. Bolinsky explained “He’s a mentor to me, and that type of shoutout, reaffirms that I’m doing the right thing. He told me to keep teaching psychology and that’s my passion. He told me to keep it up, and I will.”

After the video, Bolinsky was completely astonished, “I texted her ‘AHHH I’M DEAD, THIS IS AMAZING! THANK YOU, THANK YOU! THIS MADE MY YEAR’. I was shocked and honored and privileged.”

Poley was excited to contribute to Bolinsky’s dream. “I was joyful to see that she enjoyed the video and that I made her year.”