Subject: Ethics in Psychology

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Online Exhibits

Before Belmont: Ethics in Experimental Psychology

In 1979, following a series of high-profile controversies, the Belmont Report provided ethical guidance for the study of human subjects in the United States. View these key ethical principles through the 20th century medical and psychological experiments that tested and redefined their boundaries.

Open Exhibit | Access on Smithsonian Learning Lab

Student Activities | Teacher's Guide

Five Minute History Lessons

Robbers Cave

Muzafer and Carolyn Wood Sherif’s (1954) “Intergroup conflict and cooperation: The Robbers Cave experiment” is one of the most well-known and cited studies in the history of social psychology. Learn more about the Eagles and the Rattlers (and the Panthers and the Pythons before them), intergroup conflict, and super ordinate goals through archival film and audio, photographs, and primary source documents from the famous study.

Scavenger Hunt Activity | Teacher's Guide

Lectures and Panels

Psychology Film Club: The Stanford Prison Experiment

Discussion of the 2015 film The Stanford Prison Experiment, depicting the notorious prison life study conducted by Dr. Philip Zimbardo (Billy Crudup).

Length: 59 minutes

Originally recorded: October 29, 2020

Psychology Film Club: Experimenter: The Stanley Milgram Story

Discussion of the 2015 Experimenter: The Stanley Milgram Story, depicting the life of Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) and the events surrounding his famous obedience experiments.

Length: 61 minutes

Originally recorded: April 30, 2020

Archival Films & Recordings

Stanford Prison Experiment debriefing audio

Audio excerpt from a debriefing session conducted between researchers and participants of the Stanford Prison Experiment. A member of the research team talks the group through the ethical dilemma at the heart of this—and many other—social psychology experiments.

Length: 4 minutes

Originally recorded: ca. 1970s