Dealing with Ethical Issues

WJEC PY3 revision on dealing with ethical issues

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Flo
  • Created on: 02-06-12 20:04

Debriefing

Deals with deception


This is where after the study participants are informed of its true nature. In general the aim is to restore the participant to the state they were in at the begining of the study. Participants may be given the chance to discus their feelings and perhaps give more information about their behaviour during the study. It gives psychologists the chance to assess the effects of the research procedure and offer some form of councelling if necessary.


In the case of Milgrams study participants were given the chance to discuss their feelings. He also arranged for the participants to meet the confederate and see that he was unharmed.

1 of 5

Right to withhold Information/Costs and Benefits

Deals with deception

Right to withhold information - During debriefing participants should be offered the right to withhold their data from the study. This is a form of retrospective concent.

Costs and benifits - Deception is not acceptable when a study has little value and/or when the costs (e.g. distress) are too great. Thus, the task of an ethical committee is usually to decide whether the value of a study is sufficiant to justify the costs.

For example, Savin concluded, with regard to Zimbardo's prison study, that the benifits to society were insufficient to justify the methods used. In contrast, Erikson (1968), commenting on Milgram's research, said that it had made 'a momentous and meaningful contribution to our knowledge of human behaviour'. When the benifits justify the cost, or the costs are not too great, then deception might be acceptable.

2 of 5

Presumptive Consent/Prior General Consent

Deals with lack of informed consent

Presumative consent - A group of people are asked whether they think the study is acceptable. It is then presumed that the participants themselves would feel the same.

In a sence Milgram did obtain this form of consent from a group of students because he showed that most people would not expect to cause harm, therefore it would be presumed that they wouldn't mind taking part.

Prior general consent - Participants are informed that they might be decieved as part of the study and asked if they still consent to take part.

Gamson et al (1982) advertised for participants for a study and then asked them via telephone interveiw if they would agree to take part in a variety of research. One of the options was 'research where you will be mislead about its purpose until after the study'. Most of the participants said yes to all 4 options.

3 of 5

Anticipating Harm and Stopping the Study/Debriefin

Deals with protection from harm

Anticipating harm and stopping the study - Some psycholgists defend their research on the baisis that any harm that was casued was unexpected. Therefore to adress this they will stop the study early when the extent of the distress becomes apparent.

Both Garnson et al and Zimbardo et al did stop their studies soon after the extent of distress became apparent.

Debreifing -This is where after the study participants are informed of its true nature. In general the aim is to restore the participant to the state they were in at the begining of the study. Participants may be given the chance to discus their feelings and perhaps give more information about their behaviour during the study. It gives psychologists the chance to assess the effects of the research procedure and offer some form of councelling if necessary.

Milgram claimed that debriefing was an important part of protecting participants. He fully reasurred participants that their behaviour had been normal, even socally desirable, and therefore they should not feel bad or guilty about the way that they had responded.

4 of 5

Role Play

Deals with protection from harm


It is possible to fully inform participants about the nature of the study and then ask them to pretend that they are actually participating in the study.


Schachter (1959) told some participants that they were going to recieve painful electric shocks while others had no reason to believe that the experiment would be stressful. he found that those expecting pain were more likely to seek the company of those who were also anxious (misery loves company). In a replication by Greenberg, participants were told the details and asked to act as if it were real. However, Kimmel reports that such succseese have been limated 

5 of 5

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all resources »