• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss ethical issues involving human participants in psychology

Extracts from this document...


Discuss ethical issues involving human participants in psychology In most psychological experiments, human participants are used and sometimes this is unethical. This can range from not being allowed basic human rights (e.g. Zimbardo's experiment) to being told they are going to die e.g. an experiment in the 1960s which told people on a plane that the engine was about to fail. Milgram's experiment on obedience attracted a lot of criticism due to his treatment of the participants. It psychologically harmed many participants and this was evident from their reactions during and after the experiment, with many participants crying and harming themselves e.g. my digging their nails into their hands. Milgram claimed that this was justified because he did a follow up a year later to check that the participants were okay. However, this could be criticised because those participants who were still suffering probably wouldn't want to be associated with Milgram or the experiment anymore and so wouldn't have taken part in the follow up, thus missing their results out. ...read more.


Although the participants all consented to take part in the experiment, they were unaware of what the exact aim was and they were told that it was an experiment into learning techniques. This was an example of active deception as participants were misled about the purpose of the experiment and their role in it. Milgram argued that, if the findings had been different and it was found that the participants were not so socially obedient then there would have been little ethical issues raised. Milgram argues that all participants were given the right to withdraw. On the other hand, when participants tried to leave the experiment room or asked to stop, the experimenter encouraged them to continue, saying that the whole experiment would be ruined if they left. This was an example of verbal coercion because he was making the participants feel like they couldn't leave even though they could and it can be argued that this was also unethical. ...read more.


The findings of the experiment and their application to society must outweigh any ethical issues for participants, and it seems that both Milgram and Zimbardo weren't valid enough to reach conclusions. Psychologists have criticised Zimbardo's experiment, suggesting that it held demand characteristics and people just acted as they do in films rather than in a real-life prison. This indicates that they weren't justified. Another study that holds serious ethical issues is Humphrey's study into understudied relationships. He pretended to be a 'watchqueen' in a 'tearoom', a public toilet where homosexual men meet for sex. Humphreys made a note of the license plate numbers of the visitors to the tearoom. He then accesses the addresses of the car owners and interviewed them at home, claiming to be a health services worker. This study is unethical because, not only is it undertaken on a very sensitive issue but the participants had no idea they were in an experiment; there was lack of informed consent, deception and invasion of privacy. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Behavioural Study of Obedience - Stanley Milgram

    5 star(s)

    The subject is offered a real sample shock of 45 volts (delivered from a battery connected to the appropriate switch on the generator). All of the foregoing is designed to convince the teacher that he is really giving shocks to the subject.

  2. Are transgender operations ethical

    At birth an infant will be assigned as male or female often purely from external genitalia, and it is not hard to see that this can lead to an error as there is evidence for a few abnormalities in the foetus's development that can lead to a mis-assignment.

  1. Consider the Problems Faced by Psychologists in the Definition of Abnormality

    The Global Assessment of Functioning Scale (GAF) is used in assessments by psychologists in order to determine whether a person has a mental illness/abnormality. A poor score on the GAF combined with poor scores from other psychological and physical measures can be an indication of a psychological disorder.

  2. The geographical article chosen for the purpose for this assessment is an essay by ...

    The ideographic approach to personality emphasizes that personality is learned and affected by a wide range of social, cultural and environmental factors which determine personality. According to this viewpoint, people have unique personality structures thus some traits are more important in understanding the structure of some people than others.

  1. The Perils of Obedience, By Stanley Milgram

    The upper left-hand corner of the generator is labelled SHOCK GENERATOR, TYPE ZLB. DYSON INSTRUMENT COMPANY, WALTHAM, MASS. OUTPUT 15 VOLTS -- 450 VOLTS. Each subject is given a sample 45 volt shock from the generator before his run as teacher, and the jolt strengthens his belief in the authenticity of the machine.

  2. Psychopathology, Theories and Treatment Revision notes (Psychology AS)

    suited for CBT * Cognitive approach ignores genetics and biological factors in abnormality * CBT avoids in depth probing associated with psychoanalysis ? some may find the diary keeping and self-monitoring associated with CBT stressful * Emphasis on CBT is on cognitive change or restructuring and behavioural change, without cognitive

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work