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

Ethical Guidelines in Psychology: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Stanley Milgram & Philip Zimbardo's Studies

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐Unit Title: Psychology Kayleigh Giles-Johnson Ethical Guidelines in Psychology In psychological studies there has to be some level of ethical awareness where participants are concerned, seeing to it that they will not come to any stress, harm, or deception in any major way. Today there are guidelines on what constitutes an ethical study, but they are mainly looked at in terms of cost-benefit analysis. In this essay we will be looking at two examples of ethically controversial studies, Stanley Milgram's 1963 obedience study and Philip Zimbardo's 1969 Stanford prison experiment, weighing up the costs and the benefits to see whether the end results were really justified. A major critic of Milgram's study was Dr. Diana Baumrind (1964), who argued that as well as deceiving the participants on two counts, they had also not given their true consent. The study could not have been done without deception, however a significant cost would be the negative psychological effect it could have had on the participants. ...read more.


A positive outcome of the study could be the realisation of the fact that we could potentially all do the same, resulting in "people taking more responsibility for their own actions and not blindly obeying others" (Brody et al, 2002, p.130). With the participants experiencing no true long-term emotional disturbances despite critics' concerns, 84% were in fact happy to have taken part and felt they learnt something important from the experience (Cardwell et al, 2004, p.248). On that note, it could certainly be argued in this case that the benefits were indeed greater than the costs. Like Milgram's study, the participants of Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment also faced quite a major level of stress and harm throughout the process. According to Zimbardo, "volunteer prisoners suffered physical and psychological abuse hour after hour for days, while volunteer guards were being exposed to the new self-knowledge that they enjoyed being powderful and had abused this power to make other human beings suffer" (Gross et al, 2000, p.137). ...read more.


It has also given us an insight into why prisons are such terrible places to be, explaining that the power structure of an organization and conformity to roles as well as the situation itself could have a lot to do with the hostility that goes on. However, Savin (1973) argued that these were not sufficient benefits to justify the "distress, mistreatment and degradation suffered by the participants" (Gross et al, 2000, p.137), which in this case can be agreed that the end results did not outweigh the costs. Reference List 1. Brody, R, Dwyer, D. (2002) Revise Psychology For AS Level, Sussex: Psychology Press Ltd. 1. Cardwell, M, Flanagan C. (2004), Psychology A2: The Complete Companion, UK: Nelson Thornes Ltd. 1. Gross, R. (2010), Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour, London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. 1. Gross, R, Coolican, H, Russell, J, Clamp, A, Mcliveen, R. (2000), Psychology: A New Introduction, London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. 1. McLeod, S.A. (2008), Zimbardo ? Stanford Prison Experiment, Available online at: http://www.simplypsychology.org/zimbardo.html [Accessed on 20 October 2012]. ...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 Social Psychology 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 Social Psychology essays

  1. Were Milgram and Zimbardo unethical?

    plus some of the arguments in the controversy that this research provoked. Milgram did more than one experiment - he carried out 18 variations of his study. All he did was alter the situation, not the type of volunteers. The following table shows the different situations Milgram used in his experiments, and which situations lead to the highest obedience rates.

  2. Social Psychology - Milgram, Zimbardo prison study

    Were Milgram and Zimbardo unethical? There is no doubt that both Milgram and Zimbardo caused great distress to volunteers in their studies of obedience and conformity to social roles. The two studies show us, very dramatically, the power of the situation on human behaviour. Milgram and Zimbardo chose ordinary people, of a sound psychological profile, not sadists and put them into challenging situations.

  1. Obedience to Authority: Milgram & Zimbardo

    "The essence of obedience is that a person comes to view himself as the instrument for carrying out another person's wishes, and he therefore no longer regards himself as responsible for his actions" (Milgram 231). After the shift in viewpoint, obedience follows and the individuals don't regard themselves as being responsible for their own actions.

  2. conjugal roles

    My first pilot questionnaire was not asking appropriate questions and did not get me the results that I needed therefore I listened to the problems and corrected them accordingly. Some of my questions were not appropriate such as "who unloads the dishwasher?

  1. AS Communication Studies Presentation

    Although, this original design did not take into consideration the tables present in the room, nor where the laptop and projector would be situated. Therefore, I produced a second seating plan, taking into consideration some of the physical limitations of the room, as well as items that will be necessary for the performance of my presentation.


    The dorsolateral area is an integrated post for receiving information from sensory and motor association areas in the temporal and parietal lobes and other frontal areas (Russel and Roxanas, 1992). Stuss and Gow (1992) include all areas anterior to the Rolandic fissure as well as the caudate, anterior putamen and anterior thalamus in frontal lobe functioning.

  1. The Relationship Between Previous Psychology Knowledge, Confidence, and A Knowledge Test in Psychology.

    There will be a difference in the scores from a psychology test between students who did psychology A-level and those who did not. 5) There will be a difference in the judgments of confidence between students who did psychology at A-level and those who did not.

  2. The Milgram Stanley 1963 Behavioural Study of Obedience

    being done within Yale University in a laboratory setting which was unlikely to allow anything bad to happen as the University had a well-known reputation. The experiment was carried out within a laboratory setting which does not give a real life feel which may have also given the reason for the high level of obedience.

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