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Chapter 3

PSYB01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Belmont Report, Institutional Review Board, Milgram Experiment

Course Code
Nussbaum D

of 6
PSYB01 – Chapter 3
Ethics in Behavioural Research
Milgram (1965)
- psychologist is interested in the question of whether people learn
better when they are punished for making a mistake
- ask participants to be either a teacher or a learner
- leads the learner behind a curtain, attaches a wire to his left
wrist and straps both of his arms to the chair so that he cannot
remove the wire
- the wire causes the learner to experience an electrical shock –
the experimenter says that its calibrated so that it will not cause
permanent injury but can be painful when its turned up all the
- the experimental procedure has four steps
oread aloud a set of word pairs, like “blue box”, “nice day”,
“wild duck” and so forth
onext you read one of the first words and then a set of four
words, one with the original paired word
othe learner states the one they think is correct
oif he gets the right answer, you say its correct and
compliment him and if he gets the wrong one you flip a
switch on the console that causes him to feel a shock
oafter each mistake you flip the next switch on the console
moving left to right increasing in the severity of the
- as you increase the severity of the shocks you hear grunts and
painful groans at high levels from the learner
- you also know that as you proceed and indicate your discomfort
of administering these shocks the experimentor will inform you
that “ the experiment requires that you continue”
- twenty five of original 40 subjects complied with the
experimenter demands all the way to the top of the scale
- this research ultimately has a profound effect on the way that
psychologists think about research ethics as it had on the way
that psychologists understand obedience and authority
- ethical research practises beings with the recognition that our
research procedures involve people who deserve as much
respect for their well-being as we do
Historical Background
- Nurenburg war crimes trials
oExposed horrific medical experiments conducted by Nazi
doctors and others in the name of “science” in the 1970’s
- Tuskegee Syphlilis study
oCollected data to learn about the “natural” course of the
oMany participants were not informed of their illness and
were denied treatment until 1972, even though a cure was
available in 1950s
- The Belmont Report
oEstablished three basic principles for the protection of
human subjects
Respect for persons
Beneficence – minimize harm and maximize benefits
Justice – distributing benefits and risks of research
- these principles were translated into specific regulations that
were adopted in 1991 as the Federal Policy for Protection of
Human Subjects
- federal regulation requires that every institution that seeks
federal funding must have an institutional review board that
review research proposals
othe regulation requires that this board have members with
diverse backgrounds
Ethical Principles
- APA ethics code contains 151 enforceable Ethical Standards and
5 General Principles
- The general principles are meant to there to capture the
disciplines moral vision and are consistent with the Belmont
Reports three principles
- Violations of the code can be investigated by the APA ethics
committee and lead to sanctions ranging from a reprimand to
- 5 General Principles are:
oPrinciple A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficiance
Benefit those whom they work and take care to do no
Safeguard the rights and welfare of whom they
interact with professionally and other affect persons
Because they might affect the lives of others, they
are alert to guard against personal, financial, social,
organizational or political factors that might lead to
misuse of their influence
- Principle B: Fidelity and Responsibility
Establish trust with who they work with
Have professional standards of conduct, clarify their
roles, obligations, accept responsibility for their
actions and manage conflicts that could lead to harm
Cooperate with other professionals
Concerned with ethical compliance of colleagues
- Principle C: Integrity
oPromote accuracy, honesty, truthfulness in the science,
teaching and practise of psychology
oDo not cheat, steal, fraud, subterfuge, or misrepresent
oAvoid unwise or unclear commitments
oIf there is deception – they maximize benefits and
minimize harm
- Principle D: Justice
oFairness and justice entitle persons to access and benefits
from the contributions of psychology and to equal quality
in processes, procedures and services conducted by
oTake precautions to ensure no unjust practices
- Principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity
oProtect the rights and welfare of person’s or communities
oRespect cultural differences and are not biased on age,
gender, identity, race, etc.
- Four headings that reflect the 5 APA principles
oTo achieve valid results
oTo maintain professional integrity
oTo protect research subjects
oTo encourage appropriate application
Achieving Valid Results (Principle B)
- we have no business asking people to answer questions, submit
observations or participate in experiments if we are seeking to
verify or existing prejudices or making others take action for our
personal beliefs
- the goal of validity – motivates and justifies are investigations
- our approach – set aside prejudice to learn more about the
human behaviour and potentially contribute to knowledge
- Example: Milgram devised experiments to study the process of
obedience in a way that was realistic to participants and still
allow variables to be manipulated
owas VALID – because his understanding of obedience was
dependant of the analysis of these conditions
obut to some psychologist the generizability of the
experiment (the external validity) was not met.
oThe setting was unfamiliar and the rules of behaviour were
Maintaining Professional Integrity (Principle C)
- how do you assess validity