Ethical Issues in Social Psychological Research
Running head: ETHICS IN RESEARCH Ethical Issues in Social Psychological Research Social psychological research has been conducted in response to many social concerns.Over the years the focus of research has changed greatly depending on the needs of society.However the main purpose has remained constant, which is to contribute to understanding individual thoughts, feelings, and behaviour in light of a broader social context.
Social psychological research is done with both humans and animals. Therefore, researchers must adhere to certain codes of conduct in order to ensure that the participants are protected and not harmed in any way.
The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) (2000) has come up with four ethical principles that researchers ought to abide by in conducting research. The first principle which is “Respect for Dignity of Persons” is concerned with moral rights and should be given the highest weight out of all four principles (p. 2). The second principle which is “Responsible Caring” is concerned with competence and should be given the second highest weight (p. 2). The third principle which is “Integrity in Relationships”, this principle is concerned with honesty and should be given third highest weight (p. ). The fourth and last principle which is “Responsibility to Society” is concerned with the benefit to society; however, an individual should not suffer for the betterment of society (p. 2). Therefore, this principle should be given the lowest weight out of the four. The purpose of this paper is to raise awareness to the importance of adhering to these ethical principles as a backbone to social psychological research. As well as not taking humans and societies for granted. In doing so, I will refer to two studies that have generated various ethical issues.
The first study was conducted in 1963 by Stanley Milgram on destructive obedience. The second study was conducted in 1976 by Middlemist, Knowles, and Matter on the effects of invasions on personal space. In the beginning I will provide a summary of the ethical principles followed by a summary of the articles by Stanley Milgram, Diana Baumrind, Middlemist and authors, and Gerald P. Koocher. Finally, I will provide a critical analysis of the articles, explore the ethical concerns, and provide evidence on how the two studies entioned above have violated the ethical principles as stated by the Canadian Psychological Association (2000). I will also include a discussion of what could have been done in order to minimize the cost to participants in both studies. However, before proceeding I would like to note that the two studies were conducted in the 1960s and 1970s and for this reason the principles stated in the CPA may not have been available to the researchers then. Summary of Ethical Principles: Principle I: Respect for Dignity of Person Throughout their work, psychologists come into contact with many different individuals and groups.
As part of their work psychologists accept the responsibility of respecting the dignity of all the persons whom they come into contact with. This means that they believe that each person should be treated “primarily as a person or an end in him/herself, not as an object or a means to an end” (p. 8). Specifically, psychologists show utmost duty to those persons in vulnerable positions. In addition, they hold moral rights to a high level of importance and acknowledge the differences in cultures and groups. Psychologists acknowledge persons rights to privacy, personal liberty, natural justice and self-determination.
In practice psychologist apply procedures that promote these rights, such as obtaining informed consent, protecting confidentiality, and exercising fair treatment. Psychologists also bear in mind the differences in power which certain individuals posses within families and communities. Therefore, psychologists are responsible for seeking ethical advice in protecting the persons involved. In addition, psychologists are responsible for ensuring that all persons have the right to benefit from the contributions of psychology without discrimination.
Moreover, psychologists have a greater responsibility to caring for members of society than do members of society have among themselves. Last but not least, psychologists have the responsibility of protecting their own moral rights. Principle II: Responsible Caring Psychologists are concerned for the benefitting and not harming those involved under their care. In addition, psychologists are required to pay special attention to the well fare of those who are most vulnerable or directly involved under their care. Obtaining informed consent is one way of guarantying that a persons well fare is protected.
Psychologists are required to assess the potential harm and benefit and to continue only if the benefits prevail over the harm. In this case it is the psychologist’s responsibility to take all measures to decrease the harm and increase the benefits, as well as take all measures to correct any harmful effects. This requires that psychologists acknowledge the need for competence and self-knowledge. Therefore, psychologists only perform procedures that they are competent with and have or obtain sufficient knowledge.
In addition psychologists engage in self-reflection so that they can differentiate between their own values and those persons involved under their care. Furthermore, psychologists assess harm in terms of both psychological and physical “dimensions” (p. 15). Therefore, psychologists are apprehensive about factors such as: “social, family, and community relationships; personal and cultural identity; feeling of self-worth, fear, humiliation, interpersonal trust, and cynicism; self-knowledge and general knowledge; and, such factors as physical safety comfort, pain, and injury” (p. 15).
Therefore, psychologists are not only concerned with short term effects, but also long term effects. Similar to principle I, psychologists are responsible for recognizing the power differences within individuals of society and addressing them by protecting the well-being of persons involved. In addition, psychologists are responsible for caring for animals in a humane manner and avoiding unnecessary procedures, which may cause the animals “discomfort, pain, or disruption” (p. 16). Psychologists recognize that they have a greater responsibility toward members of society than members have amongst themselves.
Lastly, psychologists have the right to protect their own well-being. Principle III: Integrity in Relationships Psychologists have the responsibility of meeting expectations such as: “accuracy and honesty; straightforwardness and openness, the maximization of objectivity and minimization of bias; and, avoidance of conflicts of interest” (p.22), and also to reciprocate and encourage these expectations. Self-knowledge and critical analyses aids psychologists in meeting these expectations. Psychologists have their own values and therefore, they may bias in the questions they ask. Therefore, it is crucial or psychologists to understand how their own values may conflict with the values under study, and address them honestly and objectively. It is also the responsibility of psychologists to assess the use openness and straightforwardness, and to be sensitive to the cultural differences on the matter. In addition, their decision of not to be fully open must be endorsed “higher-order” values and maintains informed consent procedures (p. 22). In the case where participants are misled by the experimenter for supposed benefits, it is the psychologist’s responsibility to consider the consequences and correct any resulting mistrust.
In addition, if a conflict of interest arises, it is the psychologist responsibility to avoid and seek advice if encountered with it. Lastly, psychologists are required to uphold competence in areas in which they proclaim competence, regardless of their current practice, as well as abiding by the guidelines appointed by their discipline. Principle IV: Responsibility to Society Psychologists have responsibility towards members of their society. Psychologists have the freedom to enquire however in doing so they must abide by the ethical principles.
In addition, psychologists must conduct research that has beneficial purposes, such as supporting the four ethical principles mentioned above. However, in case of research that is conducted in contrary, it is the psychologists responsibility to highlight and correct. In addition, psychologists are required to recognise that social structures took time to develop and therefore they must seek consensus before disrupting any of those social structures which took years in their formation. However, if structures or policies go against the four ethical principles it is the psychologist’s responsibility to address the issue and call for change.
In addition, psychologists need to be flexible an accepting of criticisms in order to increase psychological knowledge. Nonetheless, psychologists need to decide the most beneficial way for using their talents as well as time. Summary of Articles: Article by Stanley Milgram In his article “Behavioural study of Obedience”, Stanley Milgram (1963) explores destructive obedience in the laboratory. He begins by mentioning that obedience is powerful and can lead to acts of “kindness” as well as “destruction” (p. 371). Milgram moves on to the experiment he devised in order to measure obedience.
Milgram explains that a naive participant was instructed to administer electrical shocks to a learner. These shocks range in severity with the highest shock labelled as “Danger: Severe Shock” (p. 372). The participants were told that they were participating in an experiment that measured the effect of punishment on memory and learning. Milgram measured obedience by the maximum shock a participant was willing to administer before refusing to continue. Forty men aged between 20 and 50 participated. They were recruited from a news paper.
They differed in their occupations and were paid $4. 50. However, they were told that the money belonged to them as long as they attended regardless of what happens after they arrive. The experiment was conducted in a way that the participant was always the teacher and the learner was always an accomplice of the experimenter. Each naive participant was given a sample shock at 45 volts to verify the authenticity of the generator. The participants were instructed to give a shock every time the learner gave are incorrect response and to go up a level.
The participant was also instructed to announce the new voltage level. On the other side, the victim did not protest up until 300 volts was administered, at this point the victim pounds on the wall of the room. This can be heard by the participant. From this point onwards, the victims answers no longer appear. Therefore, the participants turn to the experimenter for guidance. The experimenter instructs them to consider no response as a wrong answer and to increase the voltage. The victims pounding is heard up until 315 volts and after that nothing is heard and no answers appear.
If the participant indicated that he did not want to continue the experimenter used some statements to ensure that the participant would continue. Milgram measured obedience by the maximum shock that a participant was willing to administer before refusing to continue. A participant that administered all shocks was termed as an “obedient subject” (p. 374). Some pictures and unusual behaviour was recorded. In addition, the participants were interviewed after the experiment in order to ensure that they left in a state of well being. Moreover, 14 Yale students predicted that only a small number of participants would continue to the end.
Milgram found that 26 out of 40 participants administered shocks till the end, and all 40 participants obeyed until 300 volts. However, many subjects showed signs of extreme tension and nervousness something which is “rarely seen in sociopsychological laboratory studies” (p. 375). Milgram concludes that the experiment resulted in two unexpected findings. First, he refers to the power of obedience. Milgram states that even though the experimenter had not authority and no punishment or material loss would ensue 26 participants complied all the way. Second, Milgram refers to the unexpected tension that participants experienced.
Milgram finishes his article with providing reasons that might have influenced the participant’s obedience. Article by Diana Baumrind In her article “Some Thoughts on Ethics of Research: After Reading Milgram’s Behavioral Study of Obedience”, Diana Baumrind (1964) argues that Milgram did not consider the after effects of his experiment on his participants and did not take the appropriate measures to minimize if not eliminate the possible harm done. She begins her article by giving overviews of the reasons that people participate in experiments, as well as what they hope to gain from the experience.
Baumrind also suggests that in a laboratory setting participants are more likely to behave in an obedient manner because of the anxiety they experience just by being in the laboratory. Therefore, she states that obedience should not be measured in such a setting. In addition, Baumrind refers to responsibility that the experimenter has in ensuring that the participants leave in a good state, and that they feel that the experimenter is genuinely concerned for their wellbeing and has the “professional skill” to convey that (p. 422).
Baumrind indicates that this is not always the case and that many participants are ill treated. This leads her to bring Milgrams experiment on destructive obedience into question. She first includes the abstract from his study and then states that Milgram describes the emotional disturbance experienced by his participants objectively. Even though Milgram indicates that the efforts were made to reduce the tension experienced by the participants, Baumrind questions the procedures that could possibly eliminate the emotional disturbance.
She also states Milgram’s claim that the participant’s tension was eliminated before they left the laboratory is “unconvincing” (p. 422). Baumrind then questions the reason given for such “indifference” (p. 422). She states that according to Milgram the victims’ suffering is presumed to be temporary while the scientific benefits are long-lasting. Baumrind adds that no matter how well an experiment is carried out and how much it adds to the scientific knowledge; there is no excuse for any harm done to its participants. Baumrind then speaks about the consequences of telling the participants the true nature of the experiment.
She states that the participants may feel responsible as well as fooled. According to Baumrind this may result in a “loss of self-esteem” (p, 423). Baumrind then argues that there is no comparison between what happens in real life and Milgram’s laboratory experiment. She gives the example of Hitler’s Germany. Baumrind states that the difference between the two is that in Hitler’s Germany the victims were considered to be deserving of death, and the ones who are carrying out the orders think that they are doing the right thing.
On the other hand, in Milgram’s experiment, the participants showed great concern for the victims but they also trusted the experimenter. Baumrind concludes that “from the subject’s point of view procedures which involve loss of dignity, self-esteem, and trust in rational authority are probably most harmful in the long run and require the most thoughtfully planned reparations, if engaged in at all” (p. 423). She expects that Milgram’s participants should have been informed of the dangers of the aftermath and that the techniques used in restoring their well being are proven to be effective.
Article by Stanley Milgram In his article “Issues in the Study of Obedience: A Reply to Baumrind”, Stanley Milgram (1964) responds to Diana Baumrind’s article. Milgram begins by summarizing his experiment and then focuses on replying to Diana Baumrinds concerns. He first states that his initial article “Behavioral Study of Obedience” did not contain all the information and that Baumrind could have easily accessed this information through the footnotes and references (p. 848). Milgram states that Baumrind confuses between the procedure of the experiment and the unexpected results.
He states that Baumrind speaks about the stress experienced by the participants as if it were intended. However, he argues that it was actually unexpected and that none of the colleagues predicted such behaviour when discussing the procedures of the experiment. In addition, Milgram argues that in contrary to what actually happened in the experiment, there was reason from him to believe that the participants would not obey the experimenter’s instruction once the victim protested.
Milgram then acknowledges that he could have ended the experiment after a few subjects had demonstrated the capability to go all the way and had demonstrated signs of stress, but he argues that temporary excitement is different to harm. Therefore, he decided to continue the investigation since there did not seem to be “injurious effects” in the participants (p. 849). Milgram then moves on to discuss what measures were taken to ensure that participants left in a state of well-being.
He explains that depending on each of the participant’s condition, each one was given an explanation to support their behaviour, in addition to a brief reconciliation with the victim and a discussion with the experimenter. In addition, Milgram states that each participant received a report on the procedures and results of the experiment. Moreover, participants received a questionnaire to assess their attitudes toward the experiment. Milgram reports that the majority of participants felt positively about the experiment.
Milgram states that he does not believe that any of the participants were at risk of danger and if he had any reason to believe so he would have terminated the experiment. In response to Baumrind’s statement that once the participants had taken part in the experiment there is no way for them to justify their actions and therefore must take full blame. Milgram states that this is not the case, and that most of them end up justifying their actions by saying that they were just obeying the authority. In addition, he states that Baumrind concludes that the participants did not benefit from their participation, which he believes is not true.
Milgram includes accounts from some of the participants which indicate that they have benefitted. He also refers to the report that he sent to his participants which was designed to “enhance the value of his [the participants] experience” (p. 850). Milgram indicates that this report indicates that he is not indifferent toward the value participants derived from the experiment as Baumrind had stated. In addition, he states that Baumrind not only discusses the treatment of participants but also the issues of conducting a study of obedience in a laboratory.
Milgram states the Baumrind does not believe that obedience can be measured in the laboratory since it is a place which obedience is normally expected. Milgram replies by stating that this is the reason why a laboratory is a suitable place for conducting the experiment since it resembles social institutions, such as the Military, where obedience is also expected. With regards to the example given by Baumrind on Nazi Germany, Milgram states that the two incidents are actually very different and indicates three points.
First, he argues that Baumrind “mistakes the background metaphor for the precise subject matter of investigation” (p. 851). Second, he states the laboratory is a rational place to measure a mans behaviour in response to orders given by a legitimate authority. Third, due to manipulation individuals do not hold themselves responsible for acts done against another individual. Milgram also argues that Baumrind states that it is not suitable to test obedience in a laboratory because of the nature of the set, but ignores the fact the some participants did disobey.
In addition, Milgram states that according to Baumrind participants may walk away never being able to trust authority; however, he believes that this is not a just generalization on her behalf and concludes that the experiment on obedience is “potentially valuable experience insofar as it makes people aware of the problem of indiscriminate submission to authority” (p, 851). Article by Middlemist, Knowles and Matter: In their article, “Personal Space Invasions in the Lavatory: Suggestive Evidence for Arousal”, R. Dennis Middlemist, Eric S. Knowles, and Charles F.
Matter (1976) , investigate the effect of invading personal space on arousal. Middlemist and his colleagues hypothesise that “if personal space invasions produce arousal, then subjects standing closest to others at lavatory urinals would show increases in the delay of onset of micturation and decrease in the persistence of micturation” (542). Therefore, the authors conduct a pilot study, in which they found a correlation between “interpersonal distance” and “micturation times” (p. 542). The authors measured micturation times by using a wristwatch. The observer took note of the urinal a potential subject selected.
In addition, the observer recorded the time between when the person unzipped his fly and when the micturation actually started. The observer also recorded the time between the beginning and end of micturation. The observer relied on auditory cues to signal the beginning and end of micturation. However, according to the authors the field observation lacked control because of the participants self selection of the urinals. Since micturation times showed a correlation with personal space, the authors decided that micturation times would be used as a dependent measure in an experiment.
Therefore, the authors decide to conduct an experiment, in which the independent variable was the interpersonal space the participant had and the dependent variable was the micturation times. The authors controlled the urinal selected by using signs which indicated that the urinal was not functioning in addition to positioning the confederate prior to the participant’s entrance. Therefore the participant would have no choice but to use a urinal specified by the experimenters. In order to record micturation times, the authors realised that due to the silence in urinals auditory cues could not be used and substituted it with visual cues.
The authors used a periscope which would give the observer a view of the participants lower torso, but not the face. This allowed the observer to see the beginning and end of micturation. The observer stationed in a toilet stall directly next to the participants urinal had two stop watches. The first recorded the delay of micturation and the second recorded the persistence of micturation. As predicted, the results show that the decreases in interpersonal space led to increases in the onset of micturation and decreases in the persistence of micturation.
This supports the hypothesis that “close interpersonal space distances are interpersonally stressful, increasing arousal and discomfort, and that it is this arousal that produces behavioural responses to invasions” (p. 545). Article by Koocher In his article, “Bathroom Behavior and Human Dignity”, Gerald P. Koocher (1977) responds to the study conducted by Middlemist, Knowles, and Matter. He raises some ethical issues that he expected experimenters as well as editors to acknowledge. He begins his article by explaining the experiment and the findings.
He then moves to questioning the state of human dignity with regards to psychological research. Even though, he acknowledges the importance of freedom in scientific inquiry and publishing, he questions the conduct and judgement of experimenters along with editors. Koocher then moves on to some of the ethical issues that are raised in this experiment. Koocher states that according to APA guidelines an investigator will perform an experiment in private setting only when he/she has sought advice as well as considered the consequences of the experiment.
According to this guideline, he states that the investigator should asses the cost and benefits to the individual and society. Koocher criticizes the experimenters (Middlemist, Knowles, and Matter) for their lack of including any justification of cost/benefit or how the significance of their study validates their need to invade the participants’ privacy. Koocher argues that the experimenters do not even consider the discomfort subjects may feel due to the close proximity of a confederate, nor do they offer explanation for why subjects discomfort may be considered unimportant.
Koocher discusses that even if we assume that the experimenters did indeed assess cost/benefit, why is it that they have not included it in their article. Koocher then moves on to criticize the editors for accepting this article. He discusses how some people believe that it is essential to include informed consent in the methods section of any study conducted with human participants’. Koocher speculates about how experimenters whose articles have been rejected would feel to find that this article has been accepted while theirs have been rejected.
He concludes by stating “by placing this article in such high-visibility position, we may certainly anticipate a veritable flood of bathroom research, to be followed by books of readings, and ultimately, by a review article” (Koocher, 1977, p. 121) Article by Middlemist, Knowles and Matter In their article “What to Do and What to Report: A Reply to Koocher”, Middlemist, Knowles, and Matter reply to Koocher’s article. They begin their article by summarizing Koocher’s article. The authors reply by stating their interpretation of the ethical principles as stated in APA concerning human participants’.
The authors argue that from their understanding, the investigators need to pay attention to “considering, designing, and executing research” (p. 122). However, they point out that there is no mention of the need to report this information to the “scientific community” (p. 122). In addition, the authors refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association’s basic rule on reporting research. This rule indicates that the investigators need to include only the information that is needed in order for others to understand and be able to replicate the study.
The authors believe that it is the Publication Manual that led them to stress the “procedures of their study” as oppose to the “ethical considerations” (p. 122). The authors then move on to reply to Koocher’s request for an assessment of the “cost/benefit ratio” (122). The authors provide the details of their pilot study. First, they mention that it is a field observation which occurred in a public bathroom, and that nothing out of the ordinary occurred except that somebody was recording the time of micturation for the participants.
Following that, half the participants were interviewed in order to assess the affect of recording micturation. The participants did not seem to have much of a problem upon learning that somebody was observing and recording their micturation times. In addition, the authors state that all of the participants accepted that their data be included in the study. Moreover, the participants mentioned that invasion of personal space in a public lavatory was not unusual and that it did not cause them any discomfort or pain.
The authors indicate that the interviews led to believe a general low level of concern towards being watched by the experimenters. However, the authors indicate that the pilot study has its drawbacks. They indicate that the participants were free to select their own personal space. Therefore, in deciding on whether they should conduct an experiment, the authors noted two points. The first being that men observing other men while urinating is not regarded as unusual or stressful. Second, changing the distance between the participant and the other user were also not uncommon.
The authors indicate that they did seek alternatives, but realised that the only way to collect reliable data was to observe the participant micturating using a periscope. In order to minimize the possible costs to the participants the authors took the following steps: First, only the authors served as observers. Second, the participants could not be identified by the observer. Third, the confederate was informed of the ethical concerns and was instructed not to disclose the identity of the participants, to signal the termination of a trial if he has any reason to believe that it should not be included.
As well as, to be sensitive to participants being suspicious so that they can be informed of the study and debriefed. Fourth, the participants were not informed of the observation. The authors state that in assessing the cost/benefit ratio, they find that their experiment has relevance to theories of spatial behaviour and adds to the literature on micturation and urinary continence. The authors conclude that the ethical guidelines are unclear on the “decision rules” that researchers as well as editors must practise with regards to ethics.
In addition to, what ethical discussion should be included in “reports of research” (p. 124). Discussion: According to McBurney and White (2007) researchers are faced with two conflicting values. On one hand, psychologists have an obligation to increase our knowledge of behaviour with the hope of benefiting society at large. On the other hand, psychologists are also obliged to asses the costs of research on participants. This conflict is not easily resolved since one rule does not fit all cases.
Therefore, researchers are continuously faced with the dilemma of either conducting research or protecting participants. Researchers who do not carefully asses the costs to participants may be held negligent toward society. From another perspective, researchers who do not carry out research because of being extra cautious may be considered falling short in their obligation to the same society. Milgram has been criticized by Diana Baumrind for not assessing the costs of research to participants. In addition, she criticizes Milgram’s debriefing procedures.
Baumrind states that Milgram’s claim that participant’s tension was eliminated before they left seems “unconvincing” (p. 422). I find her claim to be just on her part. According to Milgram the tension experienced by the participants was actually unexpected, therefore, how is it possible for Milgram to have assessed the necessary debriefing procedures. His debriefing procedures were suitable for the predictions that most people would not continue to the end. Milgram had the choice of terminating the experiment even if only temporarily after a few subjects had demonstrated unexpected behaviour.
That would have allowed him more time and thought to consider the effects of his experiment. It would have also allowed him to discuss the unexpected behaviour with other colleagues and asses the cost/benefit ratio before proceeding. In addition, Milgram conducted interviews in which he asked participants how they felt about the experiment. He uses their responses to argue that his participants left with positive feelings about the study. However, he ignores the fact that the participant’s response does not necessarily reflect their true opinion, as some participants tend to espond in a way that they think is expected of them or more socially desirable. For example, a participant that was obedient during the experiment may want to show the experimenter that he actually really appreciated the study by agreeing with the statement “I am very glad to have been in the experiment” (Milgram, 1964, p. 849). Evaluation apprehension which is the “tendency of the experimental participants to alter their behaviour to appear as socially desirable as possible” could possibly have biased the participant’s responses (McBurney & White, 2007, p. 77). Milgram states that if he had any reason to believe that the participants were in danger he would have terminated the experiment. However, Baumrind emphasizes the emotional disturbance that participants may have suffered. Especially, because emotional harm is more difficult to asses in advance and that even though some people may benefit from the experience of participating in the experiment , others may suffer from “long-term loss of self-esteem” (Alcock, Carment & Sadava, 2005, p. 33).
However, Milgram does make a point when he replies to Baumrind’s concern about conducting the experiment in the laboratory. According to Baumrind, obedience is expected in the laboratory and therefore, the laboratory is not an appropriate setting to measure obedience. On the other hand, Milgram’s study is a significant example of destructive obedience. It reflects how people behave in accordance to authority, even if it goes against their own values. The second study by Middlemist and authors has also been criticized for its ethical conduct.
Koocher considers the study to have invaded the participant’s privacy. Middlemist and authors state that men watching men in urinals in not something unusual. In addition, the interviews they conducted after the pilot study indicated that the men did not have much of a problem with it. However, Middlemist and authors ignore the fact that once people have participated in something and then confronted there is a likelihood that they will want to remain cooperative. Nonetheless, the experiment they conducted is actually different to the pilot study.
Namely, in the pilot study they resorted to auditory cues, on the other hand, in the experiment they used visual cues. These two methods are not similar and participants would not find them to be equal because of the manipulation involved which was not present in the pilot study. Why is it that Middlemist and authors decided not to inform the participants, like they did in the pilot study? Since men watching men is not unusual, informing them that somebody in the next stall was watching them should not have been a problem from their perspective.
However, Middlemist and authors do make a point when they state that their interpretation of the Publication Manual led them to believe that they did not need to include the cost/benefit discussion. It is also possible to assume that the editors had a similar interpretation of the Publication Manual. In accordance with the ethical principles as stated by the CPA , both studies violated ethics in research. For example, Milgram does not obtain informed consent.
That is Milgram, does not inform the participants of the consequences of their participation such as disturbance, anxiety, stress, and tension. This is necessary as it allows the participant the choice to partake in the experiment or not. In addition Milgram does not demonstrate responsible caring. Responsible caring is primarily concerned with the well-being of the participants and Milgram did not demonstrate that he took all the precautions to ensure that the participants would not suffer any harm. His participants experienced high levels of anxiety and tension.
As explained by Milgram (1963), the levels of tension were not usually seen in sociopsychological laboratory studies. For example, Milgram explained that the participants were observed to “sweat, tremble, stutter, bite their lips, groan, and dig their fingernails into their flesh” (p. 375). In addition, Milgram could not justify through his arguments that the benefits are greater than the harm done to its participants. Milgram, also had the opportunity to terminate the investigation but he decided to continue.
According to the CPA (2000), researchers are advised to “terminate an activity when it is clear that the activity carries more than minimal risk of harm and is found to be more harmful than beneficial” (p. 19). Middlemist and authors, also fail to obtain informed consent. In fact, in their experiment, they had invaded the privacy of participants, and had not even given the participants the option of accepting or refusing their data to be included in the study. Even more, participants did not even know that they were participants in a experiment.
In addition, Middlemist and authors do not respect the right of research participants to safeguard their own dignity. Participants had no choice but to be participants in a study which they might not have accepted to partake in. In addition, in the study the participants were manipulated and observed in a way, which in reality does not treat the participants as humans. They were more like puppets to the experimenters. In both studies, the experimenters could have taken some measures that would have minimized the harm done to participants. For example, Milgram could have obtained informed consent.
For example, he could have stated that electrical shocks will be administered in a memory learning task. Participants can be told that even though the shocks are very painful, tissue damage will not occur. In addition, participants can be informed that they may experience high levels of tension and that if this occurs the experimenter will follow up as soon as possible. This will inform the participants more about what they are participating in, as well as give them the opportunity to drop out. Moreover, Milgram could have conducted a pilot study.
He could have measured obedience in terms of the participants willingness to administer shocks. The pilot study would have allowed Milgram to observe that contrary to predictions, it is possible that many participants would obey. Furthermore, Milgram would have been able to consider the effects obedience would have on the participants and would be more prepared in alleviating those effects. Middlemist and authors could have conducted interviews before conducting the experiment to assess the general opinion on this matter. In addition, they could have obtained informed consent.
Also, they could have made use of other technologies, such as attaching sensitive recording devices instead of using visual cues. Moreover, Middlemist and authors could have given the participants the option of including their data. In conclusion, researchers have the responsibility of ensuring that all persons involved are not harmed in any way. They have a duty to take the necessary precautions and adhere to the principles of their discipline. In case of doubt, researchers should consult advice from persons who are competent to provide advice. References Alcock, J.
E. , Carment, D. W. , Sadava, S. W. (2005). A textbook of social psychology (6th ed. ). Toronto: Pearson Prentice Hall. Baumrind, D. (1964). Some thoughts on ethics of research: After reading Milgram’s “Behavioural study of obedience. ” American Psychologist, 19, 421-423. Canadian Psychological Association. (2000). Canadian code of ethics for psychologists (3rd ed. ). Ottawa Koocher, G. P. (1977). Bathroom behavior and human dignity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 120-121. McBurney, D. H. & White, T. L. (2007).
Research methods (7th ed. ). California (CA): Thomson Wadsworth. Middlemist, R. D. , Knowles, E. S, & Matter, C. P. (1976). Personal space invasions in the lavatory: Suggestive evidence for arousal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 541-546. Middlemist, R. D. , Knowles, E. S, & Matter, C. P. (1977). What to do and what to report: A reply to Koocher. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 122-124. Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, 371-378.