Ethical considerations

Topics: Stanford prison experiment, Observation, Milgram experiment Pages: 5 (1585 words) Published: October 18, 2014
When carrying out research in psychology, researchers must make sure they stick to the ethical code of practice as they are dealing with human beings and animals sometimes. The word ethics can be defined as “rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad”. The purpose of these ethical considerations is to protect participants from harm in any research that is conducted. Examples of these ethical considerations are consent from participants, confidentiality, as well as deception and mental and physical stress. Different methods of research such as experiments and observations are used to investigate different theories at SCLOA. Ethics are important in SCLOA because they help researchers perform morally correct studies that lead to better and more accurate results. This essay will outline and discuss the ethical considerations (deception, consent, protection of participants…) in relation to research studies at the social critical level of analysis. Deception is one of the most commonly used ethical considerations in psychological experiments. It is when the participants in an experiment are misled about the aims of the study they are taking part of, or they are not fully aware of the events that are going to take place in the studies. If a participant gives consent by deception, then the participant has agreed to be part of something they do not know about. A participant must be told about the true nature of the experiment as soon as possible or during debriefing. In order for researchers to acquire information about certain psychological tendencies, deceptive methods are a must in some studies. One of the most well known experiments using deception was by Stanley Milgram in 1963 and was on people’s tendency to obey authority. He wanted to see to what extent participants would go in order to obey and authoritative figure. He has 40 male participants between the age of 20 and 50 and paid them to take part of the study. There were two confederates of Milgram, one of the experimenters played a biology teacher and the other a learner. The teacher was the chosen participant who then had to send (fake) electric shocks to the learner. The shocks started from 15 volts all the way up to fatal shocks of 450 volts. The experimented did not make it clear to the participant (teacher) that he may withdraw, therefore whenever the teacher would stop the experimenter would say ‘please continue’, ‘the experiment requires that you continue’, ‘you have no other choice you must go on’. Milgram found that 65% if the participants went all the way to 450 volts and 35% did not continue. Some of the participants showed signs of nervousness while some physically hurt themselves and even had seizures due to the stress. They were then debriefed and told that no harm was caused to participants. Although Milgram came up with the conclusion that a large amount of participants went to extreme levels to obey the authorities figure (biology teacher), this study was listed down to be extremely unethical due to deception and other ethical considerations. But without the deception Milgram would not have been able to avoid demand characteristics. Without the deception the findings of this experiment would have been useless. The fact that the participants were having seizures and harming themselves also leads us to another ethical consideration: protection from harm. Although the study did not include any mental or physical harm being implied to participants, they were harming themselves due to the stressful situation they were in. Milgram also did not make it clear to the participants that they had the right to withdraw; this is also one of the ethical considerations. But the participants had the right to leave if they wanted to, as they were not forced to continue the experiment. Although Milgrams study lacks ecological validity, it shows high experimental realism due to the stress and tension showed by the participants in the...
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