Discussion of the Ethics of Milgram and Acsh

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Ang Cee Wei

PSY108

Introduction to Psychology 2

Individual Assignment 01

July 2012 Presentation
Part 2: Short-essay Questions

The following are some of the ethical guidelines on human research specified by the American Psychological Association (APA) and British Psychological Society (BSP): Informed consent must be obtained from the participants (APA Standard 3.10 & 8.02 / BPS Ethical Principle 1.3) Intentional deception must be avoided (APA Standard 8.07 / BPS Ethical Principle 1.3) Harm must not come to the participants (APA Standard 3.04 / BPS Ethical Principle 3.3) Participants should be debriefed at the end of their participation (APA Standard 8.08 / BPS Ethical Principle 3.4)

(a) Discuss the extent to which the Asch experiment adhered to these ethical guidelines. If there were any breaches, were they justified? [Word limit is 450 words] (40 marks)

(b) Discuss the extent to which the Milgram experiment adhered to these ethical guidelines. If there were any breaches, were they justified? [Word limit is 450 words] (40 marks)

Asch experiment were not fully compliant to the ethical guidelines put forth by the American Psychological Association(APA)'s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and the British Psychological Society(BPS)'s Code of Ethics and Conduct.

Regarding informed consent, the guidelines APA and BPS both advise that informed consent are to be obtained before the experiment. The APA goes further by detailing what information are to be informed to the subjects, such as the purpose of the research, the right to decline, consequences, confidentiality, incentives and who to question with regards to the experiment.

However, the APA also states some conditions where informed consent can be dispensed with, namely if the research would be reasonably expected to not cause harm or distress or if the study will not impose liabilities on the participants.

In the BPS Code clause 1.3(xi) also allows for research that deems necessary to withhold information from the subject in exceptional circumstances.

In light of these guidelines, Asch experiment failed to obtain informed consent from the subjects before the research. However, it does fall into a gray area when considered with the guidelines regarding the use of deception in research.

The APA guidelines involving research that cause harm to the participants in research allows for the taking of reasonable steps to avoid harm. It also allows the use of deception if it is justified as other methods are not feasible to carry out the experiment.

The BPS allows for deception in situation where it is necessary to maintain the integrity of the research. It also suggest that the psychologist to undertake consideration of the wellbeing of the participants in research to avoid harm with regards to potential psychological wellbeing, health, personal values and dignity.

Asch experiment adhered to the above guidelines with regards to avoiding harm and the use of deception. This can be attributed to the allowance of justifications in the guidelines, which are made by the psychologist in light of the nature of the experiment, which have low potential for harm and necessary deception.

Immediately after the experiment, a debriefing session with the participant was conducted, the purpose of the deception and research was disclosed to the subjects and discussed. This fulfilled the guidelines of both APA and BPS with regards to debriefing. The APA ask that the psychologist explain the deception and the experiment at the end of the participation in the research and allows for the subject to withdraw their data from the research. The BPS also suggest that the participants are debriefed at the conclusion of the experiment to inform them of the details of the experiment and to identify unforeseen harm, discomfort or misunderstanding. (442 Words)

Milgram experiment was in breech of the ethical code put forth by...
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