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Description: What makes a Psychology experiment a “classic”? Well perhaps that s too broad a question but, in truth, “classic” psychology experiments, even, or perhaps especially, the ones that would not get through an ethic panel review today can cause us to reflect upon some important issues and variables in our lives. Think about what seem to you to be a few of Psychology’ classic studies and think about what each might offer in the way of insights or reflection opportunities for managers and leaders in organizational settings. With those thoughts in mind have a look through the article linked below and see what its author came up with (and see if you agree with his analyses).

Source: What 5 Classic Psychological Experiments Can Teach Workplace Leaders, Ric Kelly, Leadership, Business Psychology,

Date: March 4, 2018


Links:  Article Link –

The power of the situation and social roles (Zimbardo’s Prison Study), the power of expectation (Rosenthal and Jacobson’s Pygmalion Effect), making exercise options fun, the abandonment of personal moral judgement in situations, and seeing only what you focus upon ARE classic psychological studies and whether we apply their lessons to developing our leadership potential or just to trying to be better people they are well worth reflecting upon. How did your own choices and predictions as to leadership applicability fare?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Pick two of the classic studies noted in the article and explain what could be seen to make them “classic”.
  2. Pick one of the studies noted and explain how its results might apply to management or leadership development in organizations.
  3. What are one or two other classic studies that could have been mentioned and what might each have to say about leadership in organizations?

References (Read Further):

Reicher, S. D., Haslam, S. A., & Platow, M. J. (2007). The new psychology of leadership. Scientific American Mind, 18(4), 22-29.

Vugt, M. V., & Ronay, R. (2014). The evolutionary psychology of leadership: Theory, review, and roadmap. Organizational Psychology Review, 4(1), 74-95.

Wang, C. S., & Thompson, L. L. (2006). The negative and positive psychology of leadership and group research. In Advances in Group Processes (pp. 31-61). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Burger, J. M. (2009). Replicating Milgram: Would people still obey today?. American Psychologist, 64(1), 1.

Zimbardo, P. G. (1973). On the ethics of intervention in human psychological research: With special reference to the Stanford prison experiment. Cognition,().

2 Responses to “Applying Classic Psychology Experiments to Leadership and Life”

  1. Matador

    Hi, I want to pursue masters in psychology but I don”t have a degree in psychology as a subject. I have a degree in bms(finance) am I eligible for masters in psychology?

    • Mike Boyes

      It can be very hard to get into a post-graduate psychology program withouit an undergraduate psychology degree. One possibility is to contact an admissions official at programs that look intersting (counselling programs would likely be more open to this) and ask whether they would be open to an application and if not whether they would be open if you took a few courses in Psychology (ask which ones they would recomend) rather than a full degree after. Another option is to find a place where you can apply your previous degree credits towards an “after” degree. You can usually get the second degree (this one in Psychology) in 2 years and then you would be set to apply to graduate Psychology programs. Good Luck!

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