ETHICAL ISSUES 4
Accordingto Milgram (2009), the Milgramexperimentwas conducted to examine the people’s willingness to obey theirrules given by the authority. The experiment sought to assess thesocial and psychological influences that make people obey rulesirrespective of their desires and beliefs. The results showed thatsignificant number of participants was prepared to obey rules even ifit was causing harm or distress to their wellbeing. Though theexperiment was largely successful, it generated number of ethicalissues. Key among them was the usage of human subjects in experiments(Milgram, 2009). The StanfordPrison Experiment aimedat undertaking psychological tests within a prison environment, withthe involvement of both guards and prisoners. The guards took up theauthoritative roles hence exposing the prisoners to psychologicaldistress. The prisoners would obey the guards’ orders with thesenior officials allowing all manner of torture. Two participantsquit the experiment before it ended pre-maturely (O’Toole, 1997).
Thetwo experiments generate criticisms regarding their adherence toresearch ethics during experimentation with human subjects. Theexperiments are condemned for subjecting the participants toemotional stress and pain. However, Milgram and Zimbardo claim thatthe former participants were largely ‘glad’ to have participatedin the exercise. By today’s standards, the two experiments wouldnot have been allowed. Research ethics require the researchers toinform the participants about all the consequences following theirparticipation in an experiment. The trials caused emotional stressand pain on the participants, something that is disallowed when usinghuman objects.Usage of human elements in experimentation generates ethicalconsiderations. Often, human subjects are subjected to poorconditions such as less-conducive environment as seen in the twoexperiments. As a result, debate has emerged regarding theappropriate strategies to use in order to minimize the poor treatmentof animals. Looking at such details presents a grave picture aboutthe poor ethical practices during experimentation.
Accordingto Zimbardo (2016), the experiments highlighted above did not observestrict ethical guidelines that give room for informed consent andconfidentiality when dealing with human elements duringexperimentation. There was element of deception where the researchersconcealed important information to the participants. Further, the twoexperiments used human subjects as participants. The participants didnot experience long-term effects with some expressing theirsatisfaction in participating in the exercise. Another common issueis that the researchers failed to strictly consider the interests ofthe human elements participating in the study (Zimbardo, 2016).Nonetheless, the two generated important debate that openedunderstanding important matters in social psychology.
Zimbardobelieves that the two experiments did their best to protect the humansubjects. He also agrees that the ethical concerns by the society areappropriate although serious adherence to the ethical guidelineswould have affected the results of the study (Zimbardo, 2016).Zimbardo considers that the two experiments have proved important tothe society and social psychology field. Nonetheless, he believesthat protecting the subjects too much denies new knowledge to thesociety. As such, Zimbardo proposes that the ethical committees needto allow controversial experiments but through proper monitoring froman independent body. Devoid of ethics and morals, one is likely toengage in activities that are disallowed in the society (TheSituationist Staff, 2009).More importantly, understanding the ethical matters requires a‘multi-layered technique. This helps in formulating the bestpractices and ethical standards while solving the ethical dilemmalikely to emerge in the society.
Milgram,S. (2009). Obedienceto authority: An experimental view.New York, NY: Perennials.
O’Toole,K. (1997, Jan 8). The Stanford Prison Experiment: Still powerfulafter all these years. Stanford News Service. Web. Retrieved on 18Feb 2016 from http://news.stanford.edu/pr/97/970108prisonexp.html
Zimbardo,G.P. (2016). The power of norms and groups on individuals: Parallelsbetween the Stanford Prison Experiment and Milgram’s ObedienceResearch. TheLucifer Effect.Retrieved from http://www.lucifereffect.com/links_add_norms.htm
TheSituationist Staff, (2009). Zimbardo on Milgram and obedience –Part I. TheSituatinist.Retrieved fromhttps://thesituationist.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/zimbardo-milgram-and-obedience-part-i/