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The Theme of Ethics in Psychological Research making reference to Social Psychology and Developmental Psychology research

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Introduction

Table of Contents The Theme of Ethics in Psychological Research making reference to Social Psychology and Developmental Psychology research 2-4 References 5 The Theme of Ethics in Psychological Research making reference to Social Psychology and Developmental Psychology research The aim of psychology is to provide us with a greater understanding of ourselves and the way we think. To achieve this understanding psychologists often have no other choice than to investigate human subjects for results and evidence. Humans however can experience physical pain and anxiety but can also be affected mentally through embarrassment or loss of self esteem. The existence of ethical constraints is a serious but necessary limitation on the advancement of Psychology as a science and now many countries have ethical guidelines for conducting research. Since 1985 the British Psychology Society has regularly published and updated a code of conduct as a guideline for all chartered Psychologists to follow. These guidelines are broken down into these considerations which psychologists should follow when carrying out a study: * Consent - Have the subjects made an informed decision about taking part in the research? Have the parents of the child subjects given informed consent to research procedures? * Deception - Have the subjects been deceived? Where there any other possible ways to carry out the study without using deception? Has the use of deception in the study been approved by other psychologists or a board of control e.g. ...read more.

Middle

Also any child that is reluctant or does not want to take part, must not be tested or observed as it posses a potential risk to the child's psychological well being. An example in developmental Psychology research was in Watson and Rayners research "Little Albert". Watson and Rayner conditioned an 8 month old child to fear a distinctive stimulus which normally would not be feared by a child. The stimulus was a white rat, when it appeared a loud noise was produced behind Albert's back from striking a suspended steel bar with a hammer whenever he touched it. In the preliminary experimentation Albert showed no fear of the rat, it was only when the noise was associated with the rat that Albert began to show signs of fear. This experiment was unethical for a number of reasons. The first was that Albert's mother was not aware and did not give any consent for the research to take place. The second was it is considered unethical to evoke a response of fear in a laboratory unless the participant has given informed consent. Also after the experimentation had taken place Albert's fear was not extinguished because he moved away before desensitization could take place. It is presumed that, although he still must have had fear conditioned to many various stimuli, he would likely have been desensitized by his natural environments later in life. ...read more.

Conclusion

Participants were deceived into the exact nature of the study and made to believe that they were administering electric shocks on the learner. The subject also suffered severe stress and trauma and this was another reason why the study was heavily criticized for not taking adequate measures to protect the stress and emotional conflict they experienced. Also although the subjects wanted to stop due to the screaming and the thought that they were inflicting pain on an innocent person the subjects were urged by the experimenter to continue by simply saying "you must continue". This made it difficult for the subjects to withdraw from the experiment. After Milgrams experiments being so heavily criticized for breaking so many ethical guidelines. Milgram was forced to defend himself by explaining that the methodology was not unethical as the results obtained were completely unexpected and although the subjects appeared uncomfortable with their obedience, Milgram concluded "momentary excitement is not the same as harm". He also explained that the subjects could have left the experiment at any time, they were not physically restrained. All of the subjects were debriefed and reassured. They were shown that the learner was completely unharmed. An independent follow up survey conducted a year later that found that 84% of the subjects were glad that they had taken part in Milgrams study, 15% were neutral and only 1.3% were sorry for being part of the experiment. Around 80% of the subjects also said that they there should be more experiments like Milgrams and they had learned something of a personal value from their experience. ...read more.

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This is a good essay with plenty of details about the ethics of research in social psychology. The writer has obviously studied the subject and has included all the main salient points.

There could be more time spent on explaining the guidelines more fully and less time going into such detail about the studies. However, all are relevant to the essay and all key research has been mentioned.

To improve this essay the writer needs to improve the conclusions and just structure the essay better. Start with a plan which always helps and avoid using lists and bullet points.

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Marked by teacher Linda Penn 01/05/2013

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