Research on Human Subjects: Is It a Problem?

Topics: Stanford prison experiment, Informed consent, Milgram experiment Pages: 6 (2177 words) Published: October 19, 2010
Research on Human Subjects: Is it a problem?

Conducting research on human subjects has been a way for researchers to test different drugs or vaccines and see their effect on humans. Animals are another way to test drugs; however it is difficult to determine what kind of affect it will have on humans. Testing on human subjects in today’s society can be difficult because of laws that have been put into place. The subject has to sign a consent form, know exactly what will be done to them, and what the consequences/benefits of the study are. Research studies using human subjects need to ethical meaning the study should not cause them emotional stress, revoke their civil rights, or cause harm to themselves or others. Many people participate in testing in order to get money quick or because they want to test out a new drug that could benefit them or someone they know. Global human testing is being done as well. Many of these tests are being done in third world countries on volunteers because they want to find a cure/treatment that will benefit themselves or their children. The problem with testing globally is volunteers with similar backgrounds may skew the results, and if the trial does work many of them cannot afford the treatment because of the cost. Research should be conducted on human participants as long as the experimenter has their consent and the participants know exactly what is going to be done to them, in the case of possible mortality it should ultimately be up to the participant if they want to take that risk. Also, the human subjects should not be damaged emotionally or cause harm to themselves or others in the study they participate in.

Research on Human Subjects:
Conducting research on human subjects can be risky because there are many precautions that have to be taken in order for the testing to be ethical. A study was conducted many years ago where the subjects were put under false pretenses. Stanley Milgram’s “Behavioral Study of Obedience,” was an experiment which involved a student, a teacher, and an experimenter. The experimenter gave words to the student and asked them to repeat, for every word said incorrectly the teacher was supposed to shock the student. The experimenter would ask the teacher to continue and increase the intensity. What the teacher did not know was that the student never received the shock. Milgram lied to his participants in order to obtain true to life results. This study had severe emotional consequences on the teacher because they did not know the person was not being tortured nor did they know that they could stop at any point. (Milgram 1963) This study was unethical and should not have been performed the human participants were lied to and suffered from emotional damage. Another study that inflicted emotional trauma on its subjects was Philip Zimbardo’s “A Pirandellian prison.” The volunteers for this experiment were healthy physically and mentally, they were either guards or prisoners. All the volunteers signed a waiver to be held in confinement and have their civil rights taken away. The experiment was over duration of two weeks; however it had to be cut short by 8 days because the volunteers could not handle it. The guards found the volunteers curled up in a corner crying and begging to leave the experiment. But because their civil rights were taken away they were forced to stay. Guards took advantage of their sadness and enforced the rules even more. The experiment only lasted six days. (Zimbardo 1973) These two experiments are examples where testing on human subjects is unethical because it causes emotional damage. Also, the first experiment the participants were being lied to and the second experiment revoked their civil rights.

Laud Humphries “Tearoom Trade” could be viewed as ethical to conduct once, but not again because it was an invasion of privacy and the participants had no knowledge they were involved in a study. The experiment took place...

References: Milgram, Stanley.1963. “Behavioral Study of Obedience.” Journal of Abnormal and Social Psy
Zimbardo, Phillip G. 1973. “A Pirandellian prison.” The New York Times Magazine. (April 8): 67(4):371-378.
Humphries, Laud. 1970. “Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places.” Society.
Krugman, Saul. 1986. “The Willowbrook Hepatitis Studies Revisited: Ethical Aspects.” Reviews of Infectious Diseases. 8(1): 157-162.
Tännsjö, Torbjörn. “The Morality of Clinical Research: A Case Study. In Singer, P., & Kuhse, H. (Eds.), Bioethics: An Anthology (pp. 525-532). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Lurie, Peter and Sidney M. Wolfe. “Unethical Trials of Interventions to Reduce Perinatal Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus in Developing Countries.” In Singer, P., & Kuhse, H. (Eds.), Bioethics: An Anthology (pp. 533-538). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Bagenda, Danstan, and Philippa Musoke-Mudido. “We’re Trying to Help Our Sickest People, Not Exploit Them.” In Singer, P., & Kuhse, H. (Eds.), Bioethics: An Anthology (pp. 539-540). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Ethical Issues of the Use of Human Test Subjects in Research Essay
  • Research Problem Essay
  • Characteristics of Research Problems Essay
  • Problems Facing Human Services Clients Essay
  • Human Growth and Development Research Paper
  • Research Problems Essay
  • The Research Problem Essay
  • Research Problem Research Paper

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free