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Ethical Issues in Psychology

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Over time, many psychological studies have taken place, some of which have resulted in the investigation of various ethical issues. Milgram's 1963 obedience experiment is certainly one criticised by psychologists such as Baumrind. In 1963 Milgram advertised for people to join his "study of the memory" through the local press. Milgram informed paired participants that one would be a student, and the other would take on a teacher role. The student, who was actually an actor, was put into a small room, where he had to answer questions. If the student provided the wrong answer to the question they were given an electric shock, each wrong answer would see an increase in electrical current and more violent shocks, at one point the student would complain repeatedly of heart palpitations. ...read more.


had in fact been fooled into thinking this was a live study, but in reality no one had been electrocuted and the distress was a just a charade. The participating teachers had been deceived and gave no informed consent. Milgram concluded, obedience is a consequence of social pressure rather than a personality defect. This study can be can be analysed by looking more closely at the costs and benefits to the individuals that participated, costs can be defined as negative impact and benefits as positive impact. In 1964 Baumrind severely criticised Milgram's study. Her concern was that the participants didn't give informed consent, which may lead to harmful effects to them in the future. ...read more.


Baumrind suggested long-term mental health illnesses may occur within the subjects, Milgram commissioned independent psychiatric examinations a year after the study, these concluded no signs of mental harm were apparent. Today Milgram's study would have not been allowed due to the introduction of ethical guidelines for all psychology studies. Baumrind made valid criticisms, suggesting long-term damages to participants during her analysis of Milgram's study but he argued his case to every point made and went on to complete a follow up study where 84% of participants were glad to have taken part, and 75% felt that they learnt something of importance about themselves. I support Milgram's suggestion that if the participants felt that they came to no harm, then the experiment could only have resulted in helping society understand why people obey authority. ...read more.

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