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DSE141_1: Psychological research, obedience and ethics

Introduction

Unit image

One of the best known studies in the history of psychology is the research on obedience carried out by Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. In his research Milgram demonstrated the lengths to which people are willing to go just because someone in authority tells them to do something. The studies Milgram conducted also raised the issue of ethics in research, as some critics argued that he failed to take sufficient precautions to protect the integrity and wellbeing of his participants. At the same time, more than any other study in psychology, the findings of Milgram’s research demonstrate why ethics are important.

As well as reading about Milgram's work and ethics, you will engage in an online activity to learn about the code of ethics concerning the psychological research that is conducted with human participants. You will also gain an understanding of the guidelines that govern the use of non-human animals in psychological research in a second online activity, and why psychologists conduct such research. You will have the opportunity of viewing two short films which will introduce you to the research of Alex Thornton who studies meerkats, and of Tetsuro Matsuzawa who works with chimpanzees.

This unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course Discovering Psychology (DSE141) [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

DSE141_1