- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Milgram’s obedience study
- 2 Milgram’s study and ethics
- Activity 1: Ethics in psychological research
- Activity 2: Researching animals and humans
- Activity 3: Researching animals
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Psychological research, obedience and ethics
In this unit you will learn about the importance of ethics in research that is...
In this unit you will learn about the importance of ethics in research that is undertaken by psychologists. You will read about the famous study on obedience conducted by Stanley Milgram, and watch two psychologists talk about their research with meerkats and chimpanzees.
After studying this unit, you should be able to:
- describe the research of Stanley Milgram on obedience
- recognise the main ethics principles governing psychological research
- understand the ethics issues concerning research involving non-human animals
- appreciate the value of conducting research with animals.
DSE141_1: Psychological research, obedience and ethics
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
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Wednesday, 20th July 2011
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
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