PSYB01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Stanley Milgram, Belmont Report, Informed Consent

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20 Apr 2012
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Chapter 3: Ethical Research
Milgram’s Obedience Experiment
- Stanley Milgram, study the phenomenon of obedience to authority figures
- Ad: $4.50 to men to participate in a scientific study of memory and learning
- Met a scientist and “Mr.Wallace” who was a accomplice and always was the ‘learner’
and the participant was always the ‘teacher’
- Participant sees Mr.Wallace be strapped with electrodes and placed infront of a
shock machine [max. 450 volts]
- Learning word pairs, each time a mistake was made shock was given: 15V increases
- At 120V learner started to scream and want out, if teacher wanted out then were
told they could but were given verbal prods stressing to continue and important of
- 65% of participants continued to deliver shock all the way up to 450V
o received lots of publicity and changed beliefs on ability to resist authority
Belmont Report
- The Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human
Subjects of Research [current ethical guidelines for medical/beh researchers]
- 3 basic ethical principles: beneficence, respect for persons (autonomy), justice
o assessment of risks/benefits, informed consent, selection of subjects
Assessment of Risks and Benefits
- Beneficence: the need for research to maximize benefits and minimize possible
harmful effects of participants
- Risk-benefit analysis: calculating potential risks and benefits that are likely to result
- The cost of not conducting an experiment in it is the only ay to collect valuable info
can also be considered
- Benefits: educational, acquisition of new skill, treatment of problem, material
benefits, intangible benefits [satisfaction]
Risks in Psychological Research
- risk of psychological and stress [milgram]
- justified? Long-term consequences?
Physical Harm
o rare but possible [usually medical procedures: sleep deprivation]
o great care must be taken to make them ethically possible
o benefits must clearly outweigh the potential risks
o more common than physical stress is psychological stress
o example: self-esteem test rigged/recall traumatic events
o must ensure all safeguards have been taken to help partic deal with stress
usually debriefing helps address potential problems that may arise
Loss of Privacy and Confidentiality
o must protect participants privacy, all data should be locked in secure place
o confidentiality important in sensitive areas [sexual beh/divorce]
o in personal interviews must plan carefully ways to code/store data
o when identifying individ is important must data must not be linked to them
if see by anyone
o Certificate of Confidentiality: when risks associated w/ loss of conf is great
o Role-playing is used to gather info about a participants perceptions of a
Informed Consent
- Autonomy [respect for others]: participants are treated as autonomous; they are
capable of making deliberate decisions about whether to participate in research
- Informed consent: potential participants in a research projects should be provided
with all information that might influence their decision of whether to participate
[purpose of study, risk/benefits, rights to refuse/terminate]
Informed Consent
o contains all info that participant needs to make decision > read and sign
o content and format are parts of informed consent form
1. purpose of the research
2. procedures that will be used including time [do not need to disclose exactly
what is being studied]
3. risks/benefits
4. any compensations
5. confidentiality
6. assurance of voluntary participation and permission to withdraw
7. contact information for questions
o should be written in simple language and not in first person
o translated versions is necessary
Autonomy Issues
o when minors are involved their consent is need [assent] as well as written
consent by a parent/guardian
o special population need special precautions [minorities/patients in psych]
o coercion is a threat to autonomy, anything that limits freedom to consent
o sometimes benefits are so great that they become coercive [inmates]
Information Issues : Withholding Information and Deception
o it is acceptable to withhold information when it will not affect the decision
to participate and when info will be provided later, ie. Debriefing
o when planning research crucial to have good reasons not to have any
informed consent [observing number of males/females]
o deception, when there is a active misrepresentation of information
Milgram: deception on: purpose of study/ making participants apart
of a series of events staged for the purposes of the study
o Milgram’s study conducted before informed consent was routine
o Providing informed consent may bias participants responses
Also can bias the sample [some people may refuse to participate]
o Not only issue in laboratory research
o Example: Humprey’s homosexuality, ‘tearooms’
Is Deception a Major Ethical Problem in Psychological Research?
o psychologists believed the amount of deception is exaggerated and rare
o many students don’t mind and actually enjoy deceptive studies
o mostly in 60/70s deception involved fake cover stories
o use of deception is decreasing
o 3 reasons deception of Milgram’s magnitude decreased: more interested in
cognitive variables rather than emotions, increased awareness of ethical
issues, ethics committees not review proposed research more carefully
elaborate deception is used only when there is no alternatives
The Importance of Debriefing
- debriefing: occurs after the completion of the study. It is an opportunity for the
researcher to deal w/ issues of withholding information, deception and potential
harmful effects of participating
- deception why?, altered pych/physical states calmed down, provide all info
- explain purpose of research and expected results
- debriefing both educational and ethical purpose
- Milgram’s: studies found that after debriefing those who participated showed no ill
effects after the fact and most were happy they participated
Alternatives to Deception
Role Playing
- Role-playing: a procedure for studying behaviour in which individuals are asked to
indicate how they would respond to a given situation rather than being observed in
action in the situation
- Not considered satisfactory alternative to deception [doesn’t involve deeply enough]
- Describing experiment in detail may make hypothesis transparent
- People cannot accurate predict their behaviour therefore always the argument
that the results would have been diff in real situation
Simulation Studies
- variation of role-playing that involves the simulation of real world situation
- example: driving simulation, jury deliberations [involve high degree of involvement]
- Zimbardo prison simulation exper [ethical issues produced high levels of stress]
Honest Experiments
- participants agree to have their beh studied and know exactly what the researchers
hope to accomplish [speed dating]
- when ppl seek out information or services
- situations that involve naturally occurring event = opportunity for research
Justice and the Selection of Participants
- the principle of justice addresses issues of fairness in receiving the benefits of
research as well as bearing the burdens of accepting risks