Classic Studies in Psychology: Not Worthy of the Term

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Classic studies in psychology are not worthy of the term — all such studies are vastly over-rated. Discuss.

Classic studies are well known in the world and widely discussed by psychologists, journalists, politicians and public (Smith & Haslam, 2012). Being labeled as “classic studies”, the most important feature is that those studies can address fundamental questions of human behavior, for instance, it explains the obedience of human beings and empathy of humanity (Devine & Brodish, 2003). The findings explain the most common phenomenon and always challenged what people assumed about human behaviour and proved with experimental results (Smith & Haslam, 2012). There is no doubt that those studies had a massive contribution to different areas of psychology (Smith & Haslam, 2012). However, some may argue that the term “classic studies” could be not worthy. It is argue that there are other factors relating to the experiment may cause high profile and publicity of the studies rather than the experiment itself (Smith & Haslam, 2012). Moreover, the methodology, procedures and ethical guidelines used in those studies have always been challenged and doubt in its reality and validity. This essay is going to discuss about the “value” of classic studies and is it worth to be dominated in psychology. Firstly, the findings of the studies are often opposite of what people usually think and challenge the perceived thoughts of human nature. Sometimes looks like they were devised for the purpose of attempting to refute our counterintuitive in order to draw people’s attention with their powerful findings. In the study of Milgram (1963), before the study was conducted, he asked 40 psychiatrists to predict how many participants would willing to continue till the end of the series of electric shocks. They had predicted that less than 1% would go up to 450 volts. Indeed, the results was shocked by people, 65% of the subjects would deliver the maximum level of shocks to another person. The background of the study was the obedience of German in Holocaust of Jewish in WWII and aimed to show the present of situational attribution as behavior resulted from the situation a person was in. The study may surprise people how powerful is the situation a person as it can be determined the behavior and ignore one’s conscience and responsibility (Kidder & Oppenheim, 2006). However, there were some participants unwilling to go up to 450 volts. It can be argued that personality is one of the major factors and the nature of human socialization which assuming that it is easier for us to obey rather than disobey (Horowitz et al., 2001). Generally, the explanation of the study was too deterministic; ignore human own free will in order to produce forceful and compelling research. Most of the studies have simplistic explanations to explain complex human behavior. To some extent, we should be thinking whether the studies are substantially meaningful and constructive. Furthermore, classic studies always engaged in ethical issues in which may potentially induce harm to subjects and immorally presented. Ethical refers to the experimental procedures in which are morally and professionally acceptable (Bortolotti & Mameli, 2006). Many of the classic studies were conducted by researchers who had first-hand experience and driven by a desire to conduct an original study to understand human behavior, and yet many of them were conducted before 1945 (Smith & Haslam, 2012). By that time, psychological research had no clear ethical guideline, not until 1953, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) published the first edition of the Ethical standards of psychologists. Many studies were lack of control of the psychological damage and unethical to carry out. For instance, the study of Watson & Rayner (1920), it is considered as highly unethical and many argued that such an experiment should be banned (Powell et al., 2008). In the experiment,...
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