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Exploring values in psychology

Learning in psychology offers numerous natural opportunities for encouraging students to explore values – both their own and those of others.

Curriculum-related values

Of the values listed in The New Zealand Curriculum, the following are particularly relevant to psychology.


Students are challenged to rigorously examine assumptions and theories and to justify their thinking.

Students engage in research and use methodologies, learning to professionally reference what they do in APA style.

Innovation, inquiry, and curiosity

Students are encouraged to ask questions about human behaviour, both everyday and unusual. (Why do people do what they do?)

Experiments (for example, Milgram’s experiment) and key pieces of research open students’ eyes to different ways of viewing behaviour.


Students learn that ideas always come out of a cultural context and that different cultures view and value different types of behaviour differently.

Students are encouraged to connect learning in psychology with relevant ideas and experiences from their own cultural backgrounds.


Students consider the approaches used in psychological experiments and research and whether the biases of the researcher impact on the conclusions reached.


Students learn about research ethics and why it is of paramount importance that research is conducted in an ethical manner.


As they consider different examples of research, and why people behave in the way they do, students learn to avoid simplistic answers and labels, and to empathise with others.

Last updated February 17, 2017