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Chapter 3

PsyB01 chapter 3.doc

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Connie Boudens

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Chapter 3: Ethical Research MILGRAM’S OBEDIENCE EXPERIMENT -if you don’t know the background info behind this experiment refer to p. 40 and read it over • Although advertised as an experiment on memory and learning, Milgram was really interested in learning the whether a participatnt would continue to obey the experimenter by administering even high levels of shock to the learner • Approx 65% of the participants continued to deliver shocks all the way to 450 volts • Miligram’s study received a great deal of publicity, and the results challenged many of our beliefs about our ability to resist authority o The results of this study have implications in Nazi Germany and the Jonestown mass suicide THE BELMONT REPROT Current ethical guidelines for both behavioural and medical researchers have their origins in the Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research Defines the principles and applications that have guided more detailed regulations and the APA Ethics Code 3 basic ethical principles are: beneficence, respect for persons (autonomy), and justice. The associated applications of the aforementioned principles are assessment o risk and benefits, informed consent and selection of subjects e ASSESMENT OF RISKS AND BENEFINTS The principle of beneficence in the Belmont Report refers to the need for research to maximize benefits and minimize any possible harmful effects of the participation. In decisions about ethics, we must conduct a risk-benefit analysis, to calculate potential risks and benefits that are likely to result. Ethical principles require asking questions whether the research procedures have minimized risk to participants. Potential risks to the participants include psychological and physical harm and loss of confidentiality. The cost of not conducting the study if in fact the proposed procedure is the only way to collect valuable data can be considered Benefits include direct benefits to the participants including educational benefits, acquisition of a new skill, treatment of a psychological or medical problem etc. There can also be material benefits such as monetary payment, some sort of git, or the possibility of winning a prize in a raffle. Intrinsic benefits include: the satisfaction gained through being part of a scientific investigation and the potential beneficial applications of the research findings Current regulations concerning the conduct of research with human participants require a risk-benefit analysis before research can be approved Risks in Psychological Research • Physical Harm: procedures that cause some physical harm to participants are rare, but nevertheless possible. There would need to be clear benefits of the research that would outweigh the potential risks. Examples would be administering a drug such as alcohol or caffeine, or depriving people of sleep for an extended period of time • Stress: psychological stress is more common than physic al stress  fear and anxiety during a waiting period is the variable of interest. Anxiety produces a desire to affiliate with others during the waiting period  as depicted by research by Schachter o Asking people about traumatic or unpleasant events in their lives might also caus stress for some patients. Research that asks people to think about the deaths of a parent, spouse, or a friend or their memories of living through a disaster could trigger a stressful reaction o When stress is possible, the researcher must ask whether all safeguards have been taken to help participants deal with the stress  A debriefing session following ths study is designed in part to address any potential problems that may arise during the research • Loss of privacy and confidentiality: researchers must take care to protect the privacy of individuals. At minimum researchers should protect privacy bt keeping all data locked in a secure place o Confidentiality becomes partially important when studying topics like sexual behaviour, divorce, family violence, or drug abuse  researchers may need to ask people very sensitive questions about their personal lives o It is vital that responses to such questions be confidential, in most cases the responses are completely anonymous  no way to connect a person’s identity with the data o In some research there is a need to be able ot identify individual participants  This occurs when individuals are studied on multiple occasions overtime or when personal feedback (Ex. test score) must be given. In these cases, the researcher should develop a way to identify the individuals but separate info about their identity from the actual data o Risks can be so great regarding loss of confidentiality that researchers may wish to apply for a certificate of Confidentiality from the US dept of Health & Human Services  Appropriate when data could conveivably be the target of a legal subpoena o Buchanan and Williams address ethical issues that arise, such as confidentiality, when doing research using the internet INFORMED CONSENT The Belmont report’s principle f research for persons or autonomy states that participants are treated as autonomous, they are capable of
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