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Ethical Issues (Milgram) Essay

550 words - 3 pages

Ethical guidelines are now regulated by the British Psychological Society (BPS), or the APA in America and since 1978 has become much stricter than the previous years. Its main aim is to protect the human participant’s from psychological harm and this is done by rules that need to be adhered to. They should have fully informed consent, should not be deceived, debriefed after investigation, the right to withdraw from the investigation at any time and be assured of confidentiality. However, in some cases these rules can not be fully complied with and only after safeguards have been put in place, especially for children or those that have a disability, can deviation from the guidelines take place.
However, there will always be conflict between participants and psychologists needs or expectations of the experiment. ...view middle of the document...

Baumrind (1964) argued that the participants were not protected from harm throughout the experiment and they did not have fully informed consent. Her concerns were that the participants could have been psychology affected long term and the end result does not justify the means. She also implied that the participants were forced by the experimenter to shock the confederate; this was not the case as the participants were free to leave at any time.
Milgram (1963 cited in Hill, 2005 p56) recorded the participants reactions to there actions in the experiment. Various forms of distress were observed which ranged from sweating, trembling, fits of uncontrollable nervous laughter and in extreme cases convulsions, in one particular experiment it had to be ceased early. From these results it is obvious to see why Baumrind amongst other psychologist’s object to Milgram’s experiment.
In Milgram’s defence he did not think that the outcome of the experiment would have such shocking results. He had asked a group of psychiatrists prior to the experiment, in a pilot study, what the outcome would be. No one predicted that 65% (Milgram 1963 cited in Hill, p24) of participants would continue shocking the confederate at 450 volts.
Milgram (1963 cited in Gross, 2005 p871) also defended his experiment by debriefing the participants and fully informing them of the experiment they had just unknowingly taken part in. Milgram (1963) reassured them by confirming that all the participants’ actions were completely normal and then he introduced them to the confederate Mr Wallace, who was completely safe and unharmed. He also said participants had the right to withdraw at any time, however when told by an authoritative figure to “please Continue” or “you must continue” the participants must have found themselves in their own personal moral dilemma.

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