Please choose the Stanford Prison Experiment o and within 2-3 pages, please type up an analysis of whether the experiment did or did not follow the three ethical principles of the Belmont Report:
Respect for persons: Individuals should be treated as autonomous.
Beneficence: Individuals should be protected from harm and should have their well
Justice: There should be a “fairness of distribution” among subjects and potential subjects of the
burdens and benefits of research
Stanford prison experiment
●Dr. Zimbardo had to stop the experiment early.
○Subjects actually became too caught up in their roles.
■Guards became aggressive and verbally abusive.
■Some guards exhibited fits of rage.
■Prisoners became passive.
■Some wept uncontrollably.
○The danger to the subjects was not just psychological, but physical as well.
○Video (no captions available):
Unintended consequences of research
●There is research that may seem innocent, but can be potentially damaging to a
subject’s sense of self-esteem and self-worth.
○Self-esteem and anxiety
■Exposing aspects of someone that they would rather have concealed.
■Encouraging reflection on past events that the subject has tried to forget.
■Revealing the subject’s ignorance
Unintended consequences of research
●Surveys are powerful, but caution must be exercised.
○Researchers must consider the potential psychological harm that a survey or question could inflict.
●Questions exposing a subject’s prejudice toward some particular group could lead to a
loss of a subject’s self-image.
●A series of questions about current events could be stressful to someone who is ignorant of such events.
●Asking questions about painful past experiences, like failed relationships, child abuse,
etc, can also produce anxiety for the subject
Good research practices
■Respondents should always feel free to decline to participate.
■Even if they have already agreed to participate, they should feel free to refuse any question they find objectionable.
■It is the job of the researcher to inform respondents of this freedom
●Inequalities are often difficult to avoid completely, so researchers have to be keen to minimize them as much as possible.
○Unequal benefits or burdens
■Experiments: there is often the experimental group (who gets something extra) and the control group (who gets nothing special—like a placebo).
■Objective: make the inequalities as minimal and as random as possible.
Deception in research
●Social Scientists often conduct covert research.
○The trick is to balance the need for deception with the rights of the subjects.
○Observing individuals or elected officials in a public place or a public forum.
○Keeping the true intentions of one’s research hidden from the respondents, or only telling them part of the reasons for conducting the research.
●Some scholars argue that all deception in research is unethical.
○Others claim that some level of deception may be necessary
●There are several safeguards in place that can help to ensure the safety of subjects.
○Institutional Review Boards (IRB)
○Anonymity and Confidentiality
●Institutional Review Boards (IRB):
○Mandated by all institutions that receive federal funding for research. All research regarding human subjects must be submitted for review by the IRB.
○If you are tinkering with people, their minds, feelings, attitudes, etc, then you need to get the IRB to
okay your project
○Informs the subjects (prior to their consent to participate) of the purpose of the study, the type of
information being requested, who is conducting the study, and the risks involved.
○Generally this is a form spelling out the purpose of the research, risks, etc, and states an agreement
by the subject to participate in the research
○Mitigates the problem of deception by explaining to the subjects after the experiment is over about
the nature of the experiment.
○Basically, this is where you as the researcher come clean about any deception that you use
○The researcher cannot link the information provided with the person who provides it. Researchers have no way of knowing who participated.
○Information exists to link the results with a particular respondent. The researcher promises to hold
this information in confidence.
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