ETHICS IN BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH

ETHICS IN BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH CHP. 3

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

· Summarize Milgram’s obedience experiment.

· Discuss the three ethical principles outlined in the Belmont Report: beneficence, autonomy, and justice.

· Define deception and discuss the ethical issues surrounding its use in research.

· List the information contained in an informed consent form.

· Discuss potential problems in obtaining informed consent.

· Describe the purpose of debriefing research participants.

· Describe the function of an Institutional Review Board.

· Contrast the categories of risk involved in research activities: exempt, minimal risk, and greater than minimal risk.

· Summarize the ethical principles in the APA Ethics Code concerning research with human participants.

· Summarize the ethical issues concerning research with nonhuman animals.

· Discuss how potential risks and benefits of research are evaluated.

· Discuss the ethical issue surrounding misrepresentation of research findings.

· Define plagiarism and describe how to avoid plagiarism.

Page 44ETHICAL PRACTICE IS FUNDAMENTAL TO THE CONCEPTUALIZATION, PLANNING, EXECUTION, AND EVALUATION OF RESEARCH. Researchers who do not consider the ethical implications of their projects risk harming individuals, communities, and behavioral science. This chapter provides an historical overview of ethics in behavioral research, reviews core ethical principles for researchers, describes relevant institutional structures that protect research participants, and concludes with a discussion of what it means to be an ethical researcher.

MILGRAM’S OBEDIENCE EXPERIMENT

Stanley Milgram conducted a series of studies (1963, 1964, 1965) to study obedience to authority. He placed an ad in the local newspaper in New Haven, Connecticut, offering a small stipend to men to participate in a “scientific study of memory and learning” being conducted at Yale University. The volunteers reported to Milgram’s laboratory at Yale, where they met a scientist dressed in a white lab coat and another volunteer in the study, a middle-aged man named “Mr. Wallace.” Mr. Wallace was actually a confederate (i.e., accomplice) of the experimenter, but the participants did not know this. The scientist explained that the study would examine the effects of punishment on learning. One person would be a “teacher” who would administer the punishment, and the other would be the “learner.” Mr. Wallace and the volunteer participant then drew slips of paper to determine who would be the teacher and who would be the learner. The drawing was rigged, however—Mr. Wallace was always the learner and the volunteer was always the teacher.

The scientist attached electrodes to Mr. Wallace and placed the teacher in front of an impressive-looking shock machine. The shock machine had a series of levers that, the individual was told, when pressed would deliver shocks to Mr. Wallace. The first lever was labeled 15 volts, the second 30 volts, the third 45 volts, and so on up to 450 volts. The levers were also labeled “Slight Shock,” “Moderate Shock,” and so on up to “Danger: Severe Shock,” followed by red X’s above 400 volts.

Mr. Wallace was instructed to learn a series of word pairs. Then he was given a test to see if he could identify which words went together. Every time Mr. Wallace made a mistake, the teacher was to deliver a shock as punishment. The first mistake was supposed to be answered by a 15-volt shock, the second by a 30-volt shock, and so on. Each time a mistake was made, the learner received a greater shock. The learner, Mr. Wallace, never actually received any shocks, but the participants in the study did not know that. In the experiment, Mr. Wallace made mistake after mistake. When the teacher “shocked” him with about 120 volts, Mr. Wallace began screaming in pain and eventually yelled that he wanted out. What if the teacher wanted to quit? This happened—the volunteer participants became visibly upset by the pain that Mr. Wallace seemed to be experiencing. The experimenter told the teacher that he could Page 45quit but urged him to continue, using a series of verbal prods that stressed the importance of continuing the experiment.

The study purportedly was to be an experiment on memory and learning, but Milgram really was interested in learning whether participants would continue to obey the experimenter by administering ever higher levels of shock to the learner. What happened? Approximately 65% of the participants continued to deliver shocks all the way to 450 volts.

Milgram went on to conduct several variations on this basic procedure with 856 subjects. The study received a great deal of publicity, and the results challenged many of our beliefs about our ability to resist authority. The Milgram study is important, and the results have implications for understanding obedience in real-life situations, such as the Holocaust in Nazi Germany and the Jonestown mass suicide (see Miller, 1986).

But the Milgram study is also an important example of ethics in behavioral research. How should we make decisions about whether the Milgram study or any other study is ethical? The Milgram study was one of many that played an important role in the development of ethical standards that guide our ethical decision making.

What do you think? Should the obedience study have been allowed? Were the potential risks to Milgram’s participants worth the knowledge gained by the outcomes? If you were a participant in the study, would you feel okay with having been deceived into thinking that you had harmed someone? What if it was a younger sibling? Or an elderly grandparent? Would that make a difference? Why or why not?

In this chapter, we work through some of these issues, and more. First, let us turn to an overview of the history of our current standards to help frame your understanding of ethics in research.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF CURRENT ETHICAL STANDARDS

Before we can delve into current ethical standards, it is useful to briefly talk about the origin of ethics codes related to behavioral research. Generally speaking, modern codes of ethics in behavioral and medical research have their origins in three important documents.

The Nuremberg Code and Declaration of Helsinki

Following World War II, the Nuremberg Trials were held to hear evidence against the Nazi doctors and scientists who had committed atrocities while forcing concentration camp inmates to be research subjects. The legal document that resulted from the trials contained what became known as the Nuremberg Code: a set of 10 rules of research conduct that would help prevent future research atrocities (see http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/archive/nurcode.html).

Page 46The Nuremberg Code was a set of principles without any enforcement structure or endorsement by professional organizations. Moreover, it was rooted in the context of the Nazi experience and not generally seen as applicable to general research settings. Consequently, the World Medical Association developed a code that is known as the Declaration of Helsinki. This 1964 document is a broader application of the Nuremberg that was produced by the medical community and included a requirement that journal editors ensure that published research conform to the principles of the Declaration.

The Nuremberg Code and the Helsinki Declaration did not explicitly address behavioral research and were generally seen as applicable to medicine. In addition, by the early 1970s, news about numerous ethically questionable studies forced the scientific community to search for a better approach to protect human research subjects. Behavioral scientists were debating the ethics of the Milgram studies and the world was learning about the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, in which 399 African American men in Alabama were not treated for syphilis in order to track the long-term effects of this disease (Reverby, 2000). This study, supported by the U.S. Public Health Service, took place from 1932 to 1972, when the details of the study were made public by journalists investigating the study. The outrage over the fact that this study was done at all and that the subjects were African Americans spurred scientists to overhaul ethical regulations in both medical and behavioral research. The fact that the Tuskegee study was not an isolated incident was brought to light in 2010 when documentation of another syphilis study done from 1946 to 1948 in Guatemala was discovered (Reverby, 2011). Men and women in this study were infected with syphilis and then treated with penicillin. Reverby describes the study in detail and focuses on one doctor who was involved in both the Guatemala and Tuskegee studies.

As a result of new public demand for action, a committee was formed that eventually produced the  Belmont Report . Current ethical guidelines for both behavioral and medical researchers have their origins in The Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research (National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, 1979). This report defined the principles and applications that have guided more detailed regulations developed by the American Psychological Association and other professional societies and U.S. federal regulations that apply to both medical and behavioral research investigations.

The three basic ethical principles of the Belmont Report are:

· Beneficence—research should confer benefits and risks must be minimal. The associated application is the necessity to conduct a risk-benefit analysis.

· Respect for persons (autonomy)—participants are treated as autonomous; they are capable of making deliberate decisions about whether to participate in research. The associated application is informed Page 47consent—potential participants in a research project should be provided with all information that might influence their decision on whether to participate.

· Justice—there must be fairness in receiving the benefits of research as well as bearing the burdens of accepting risks. This principle is applied in the selection of subjects for research.

APA ETHICS CODE

The American Psychological Association (APA) has provided leadership in formulating ethical principles and standards. The Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct—known as the  APA Ethics Code —is amended periodically with the current version always available online at http://apa.org/ethics/code. The Ethics Code applies to psychologists in their many roles including teachers, researchers, and practitioners. We have included the sections relevant to research in Appendix B.

APA Ethics Code: Five Principles

The APA Ethics Code includes five general ethical principles: beneficence and nonmaleficence, fidelity and responsibility, integrity, justice, and respect for rights and responsibilities. Next, we will discuss the ways that these principles relate to research practice.

Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence As in the Belmont Report, the principle of Beneficence refers to the need for research to maximize benefits and minimize any possible harmful effects of participation. The Ethics Code specifically states: “Psychologists strive to benefit those with whom they work and take care to do no harm. In their professional actions, psychologists seek to safeguard the welfare and rights of those with whom they interact professionally and other affected persons and the welfare of animal subjects of research.”

Principle B: Fidelity and Responsibility The principle of Fidelity and Responsibility states: “Psychologists establish relationships of trust with those with whom they work. They are aware of their professional and scientific responsibilities to society and to the specific communities in which they work.” For researchers, such trust is primarily applicable to relationships with research participants.

Researchers make several implicit contracts with participants during the course of a study. For example, if participants agree to be present for a study at a specific time, the researcher should also be there. If researchers promise to send a summary of the results to participants, they should do so. If participants are to receive course credit for participation, the researcher must immediately let the instructor know that the person took part in the study. These may seem Page 48to be little details, but they are very important in maintaining trust between participants and researchers.

Principle C: Integrity The principle of Integrity states: “Psychologists seek to promote accuracy, honesty and truthfulness in the science, teaching and practice of psychology. In these activities psychologists do not steal, cheat or engage in fraud, subterfuge or intentional misrepresentation of fact.” Later in this chapter, we will cover the topic of integrity in the context of being an ethical researcher.

Principle D: Justice As in the Belmont Report, the principle of Justice refers to fairness and equity. Principle D states: “Psychologists recognize that fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from the contributions of psychology and to equal quality in the processes, procedures and services being conducted by psychologists.”

Consider the Tuskegee Syphilis study, or the similar study conducted in Guatemala. In both cases there was a cure for syphilis (i.e., penicillin) that was withheld from participants. This is a violation of principle D of the APA Ethics Code and a violation of the Belmont Report’s principle of Justice.

Principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity The last of the five APA ethical principles builds upon the Belmont Report principle of Respect for Persons. It states: “Psychologists respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination. Psychologists are aware that special safeguards may be necessary to protect the rights and welfare of persons or communities whose vulnerabilities impair autonomous decision making. Psychologists are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status, and consider these factors when working with members of such groups. Psychologists try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases based on those factors, and they do not knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon such prejudices.”

One of the ethical dilemmas in the Milgram obedience study was the fact that participants did not know that they were participating in a study of obedience. This limited participants’ rights to self-determination. Later, we will explore this issue in depth.

Protecting Research Subjects

The preamble to the APA Ethics Code states: “Psychologists are committed to increasing scientific and professional knowledge of behavior and people’s understanding of themselves and others and to the use of such knowledge to improve the condition of individuals, organizations and society.” By internalizing and adhering to ethical principles we support and nurture a healthy science. Page 49With this in mind, we will consider the ways in which research subjects—humans and animals—are protected in behavioral research.

ASSESSMENT OF RISKS AND BENEFITS

The principle of beneficence leads us to examine potential risks and benefits that are likely to result from the research; this is called a  risk-benefit analysis.  Ethical principles require asking whether the research procedures have minimized risk to participants.

The potential risks to the participants include such factors as psychological or physical harm and loss of confidentiality; we will discuss these in detail. In addition, the cost of notconducting the study if in fact the proposed procedure is the only way to collect potentially valuable data can be considered (cf. Christensen, 1988). The benefits include direct benefits to the participants, such as an educational benefit, acquisition of a new skill, or treatment for a psychological or medical problem. There may also be material benefits such as a monetary payment, some sort of gift, or even the possibility of winning a prize in a raffle. Other less tangible benefits include the satisfaction gained through being part of a scientific investigation and the potential beneficial applications of the research findings (e.g., the knowledge gained through the research might improve future educational practices, psychotherapy, or social policy). As we will see, current regulations concerning the conduct of research with human participants require a risk-benefit analysis before research can be approved.

Risks in Behavioral Research

Let’s return to a consideration of Milgram’s research. The risk of experiencing stress and psychological harm is obvious. It is not difficult to imagine the effect of delivering intense shocks to an obviously unwilling learner. A film that Milgram made shows participants protesting, sweating, and even laughing nervously while delivering the shocks. You might ask whether subjecting people to such a stressful experiment is justified, and you might wonder whether the experience had any long-range consequences for the volunteers. For example, did participants who obeyed the experimenter feel continuing remorse or begin to see themselves as cruel, inhumane people? Let’s consider some common risks in behavioral research.

Physical harm Procedures that could conceivably cause some physical harm to participants are rare but possible. Many medical procedures fall into this category, for example, administering a drug such as alcohol or caffeine. Other studies might expose subjects to physical stressors such as loud noise, extreme hot or cold temperatures, or deprivation of sleep for an extended period of. The risks in such procedures require that great care be taken to make them ethically acceptable. Moreover, there would need to be clear benefits of the research that would outweigh the potential risks.

Page 50Stress More common than physical stress is psychological stress. The participants in the Milgram study were exposed to a high level of stress; they believed that they were delivering fatal doses of electricity to another person. Milgram described one of his participants:

While continuing to read the word pairs with a show of outward strength, she mutters in a tone of helplessness to the experimenter, “Must I go on? Oh, I’m worried about him. Are we going all the way up there (pointing to the higher end of the generator)? Can’t we stop? I’m shaking. I’m shaking. Do I have to go up there?”

She regains her composure temporarily but then cannot prevent periodic outbursts of distress (Milgram, 1974, p. 80).

There are other examples. For instance, participants might be told that they will receive some extremely intense electric shocks. They never actually receive the shocks; it is the fear or anxiety during the waiting period that is the variable of interest. Research by Schachter (1959) employing a procedure like this showed that the anxiety produced a desire to affiliate with others during the waiting period.

In another procedure that produces psychological stress, participants are given unfavorable feedback about their personalities or abilities. Researchers may administer a test that is described as a measure of social intelligence and then told that they scored very high or very low. The impact of this feedback can then be studied. Asking people about traumatic or unpleasant events in their lives might also cause stress for some participants. Thus, research that asks people to think about the deaths of a parent, spouse, or friend, or their memories of living through a disaster could trigger a stressful reaction.

When using procedures that may create psychological distress, the researcher must ask whether all safeguards have been taken to help participants deal with the stress. Usually a debriefing session following the study is designed in part to address any potential problems that may arise during the research.

Confidentiality and privacy Another risk is the loss of expected privacy and confidentiality. Confidentiality is an issue when the researcher has assured subjects that the collected data are only accessible to people with permission, generally only the researcher. This becomes particularly important when studying topics such as sexual behavior, divorce, family violence, or drug abuse; in these cases, researchers may need to ask people very sensitive questions about their private lives. Or consider a study that obtained information about employees’ managers. It is extremely important that responses to such questions be confidential; revealing the responses of an individual could result in real harm. In most cases, researchers will attempt to avoid confidentiality problems by making sure that the responses are completely anonymous—there is no way to connect any person’s identity with the data. This happens, for example, when questionnaires are administered to groups of people and no Page 51information is asked that could be used to identify an individual (such as name, taxpayer identification number, email address, or phone number). However, in other cases, such as a personal interview in which the identity of the person might be known, the researcher must carefully plan ways of coding data, storing data, and explaining the procedures to participants so that there is no question concerning the confidentiality of responses.

Invasion of privacy becomes an issue when the researcher collects information under circumstances that the subject believes are private—free from unwanted observation by others. In some studies, researchers make observations of behavior in public places without informing the people being observed. Observing people as they are walking in a public space, stopped at a traffic light, or drinking in a bar does not seem to present any major ethical problems. However, what if a researcher wishes to observe behavior in more private settings or in ways that may violate individuals’ privacy (see Wilson & Donnerstein, 1976)? For example, would it be ethical to rummage through people’s trash or watch people in public restrooms? The Internet has posed other issues of privacy. Every day, thousands of people post messages on websites. The messages can potentially be used as data to understand attitudes, disclosure of personal information, and expressions of emotion. Many messages are public postings, much like a letter sent to a newspaper or magazine. But consider websites devoted to psychological and physical problems that people seek out for information and support. Many of these sites require registration to post messages. Consider a researcher interested in using one of these sites for data. What ethical issues arise in this case? Buchanan and Williams (2010) address these and other ethical issues that arise when doing research using the Internet.

INFORMED CONSENT

Recall Principle E of the APA Ethics Code (Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity)—research participants are to be treated as autonomous. They are capable of making deliberate decisions about whether to participate in research. The key idea here is informed consent—potential participants in a research project should be provided with all information that might influence their active decision of whether or not to participate in a study. Thus, research participants should be informed about the purposes of the study, the risks and benefits of participation, and their rights to refuse or terminate participation in the study. They can then freely consent or refuse to participate in the research.

Informed Consent Form

Participants are usually provided with some type of informed consent form that contains the information that participants need to make their decision. Most commonly, the form is presented for the participant to read and agree Page 52to. There are numerous examples of informed consent forms available on the Internet. Your college may have developed examples through the research office. A checklist for an informed consent form is provided in Figure 3.1. Note that the checklist addresses both content and format. The content will typically cover (1) the purpose of the research, (2) procedures that will be used including time involved (remember that you do not need to tell participants exactly what is being studied), (3) risks and benefits, (4) any compensation, (5) confidentiality, (6) assurance of voluntary participation and permission to withdraw, and (7) contact information for questions.

FIGURE 3.1

Creating an informed consent form

Page 53The form must be written so that participants understand the information in the form. In some cases, the form was so technical or loaded with legal terminology that it is very unlikely that the participants fully realized what they were signing. In general, consent forms should be written in simple and straightforward language that avoids jargon and technical terminology (generally at a sixth- to eighth-grade reading level; most word processors provide grade-level information with the Grammar Check feature). To make the form easier to understand, it should not be written in the first person. Instead, information should be provided as if the researcher were simply having a conversation with the participant. Thus, the form might say Participation in this study is voluntary. You may decline to participate without penalty, instead of I understand that participation in this study is voluntary. I may decline to participate without penalty. The first statement is providing information to the participant in a straightforward way using the second person (“you”), whereas the second statement has a legalistic tone that may be more difficult to understand. Finally, if participants are non-English speakers, they should receive a translated version of the form.

Autonomy Issues

Informed consent seems simple enough; however, there are important issues to consider. The first concerns lack of autonomy. What happens when the participants lack the ability to make a free and informed decision to voluntarily participate? Special populations such as minors, patients in psychiatric hospitals, or adults with cognitive impairments require special precautions. When minors are asked to participate, for example, a written consent form signed by a parent or guardian is generally required in addition to agreement by the minor; this agreement by a minor is formally called assent. The Society for Research on Child Development has established guidelines for ethical research with children (see http://www.srcd.org/about-us/ethical-standards-research).

Coercion is another threat to autonomy. Any procedure that limits an individual’s freedom to consent is potentially coercive. For example, a supervisor who asks employees to fill out a survey during a staff meeting or a professor requiring students to participate in a study in order to pass the course is applying considerable pressure on potential participants. The employees may believe that the supervisor will somehow punish them if they do not participate; they also risk embarrassment if they refuse in front of co-workers. Sometimes benefits are so great that they become coercive. For example, a prisoner may believe that increased privileges or even a favorable parole decision may result from participation. Sometimes even an incentive can be seen as coercive—imagine being offered $1,000 to participate in a study. Researchers must consider these issues and make sure that autonomy is preserved.

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Withholding Information and Deception

It may have occurred to you that providing all information about the study to participants might be unwise. Providing too much information could potentially invalidate the results of the study; for example, researchers usually will withhold information about the hypothesis of the study or the particular condition an individual is participating in (see Sieber, 1992). It is generally acceptable to withhold information when the information would not affect the decision to participate and when the information will later be provided, usually in a debriefing session when the study is completed. Most people who volunteer for psychology research do not expect full disclosure about the study prior to participation. However, they do expect a thorough debriefing after they have completed the study. Debriefing will be described after we consider the more problematic issue of deception.

It may also have occurred to you that there are research procedures in which informed consent is not necessary or even possible. If you choose to observe the number of same-sex and mixed-sex study groups in your library, you probably do not need to announce your presence and obtain anyone’s permission. If you study the content of the self-descriptions that people write for an online dating service, do you need to contact each person to include their information in your study? When planning research, it is important to make sure that you do have good reasons not to obtain informed consent.

In research, deception occurs when there is active misrepresentation of information about the nature of a study. The Milgram experiment illustrates two types of deception. First, as noted earlier, participants were deceived about the purpose of the study. Participants in the Milgram experiment agreed to take part in a study of memory and learning, but they actually took part in a study on obedience. Who could imagine that a memory and learning experiment (that title does sound tame, after all) would involve delivering high-intensity, painful electric shocks to another person? Participants in the Milgram experiment did not know what they were letting themselves in for.

The Milgram study was conducted before informed consent was routine; however, you can imagine that Milgram’s consent form would inaccurately have participants agree to be in a memory study. They would also be told that they are free to withdraw from the study at any time. Is it possible that the informed consent procedure would affect the outcome of the study? Knowledge that the research is designed to study obedience would likely alter the behavior of the participants. Few of us like to think of ourselves as obedient, and we would probably go out of our way to prove that we are not. Research indicates that providing informed consent may in fact bias participants’ responses, at least in some research areas. For example, research on stressors such as noise or crowding has shown that a feeling of “control” over a stressor reduces its negative impact. If you know that you can terminate a loud, obnoxious noise, the noise produces less stress than when the noise is uncontrollable. Studies by Gardner (1978) and Dill, Gilden, Hill, and Hanslka (1982) have demonstrated Page 55that informed consent procedures do increase perceptions of control in stress experiments and therefore can affect the conclusions drawn from the research.

It is also possible that the informed consent procedure may bias the sample. In the Milgram experiment, if participants had prior knowledge that they would be asked to give severe shocks to the other person, some might have declined to be in the experiment. Therefore, we might limit our ability to generalize the results only to those “types” who agreed to participate. If this were true, anyone could say that the obedient behavior seen in the Milgram experiment occurred simply because the people who agreed to participate were sadists in the first place!

Second, the Milgram study also illustrates a type of deception in which participants become part of a series of events staged for the purposes of the study. A confederate of the experimenter played the part of another participant in the study; Milgram created a reality for the participant in which obedience to authority could be observed. Such deception has been most common in social psychology research; it is much less frequent in areas of experimental psychology such as human perception, learning, memory, and motor performance. Even in these areas, researchers may use a cover story to make the experiment seem plausible and involving (e.g., telling participants that they are reading actual newspaper stories for a study on readability when the true purpose is to examine memory errors or organizational schemes).

The problem of deception is not limited to laboratory research. Procedures in which observers conceal their purposes, presence, or identity are also deceptive. For example, Humphreys (1970) studied the sexual behavior of men who frequented public restrooms (called tearooms). Humphreys did not directly participate in sexual activities, but he served as a lookout who would warn the others of possible intruders. In addition to observing the activities in the tearoom, Humphreys wrote down license plate numbers of tearoom visitors. Later, he obtained the addresses of the men, disguised himself, and visited their homes to interview them. Humphreys’ procedure is certainly one way of finding out about anonymous sex in public places, but it employs considerable deception.

Is Deception a Major Ethical Problem in Psychological Research?

Many psychologists believe that the problem of deception has been exaggerated (Bröder, 1998; Kimmel, 1998; Korn, 1998; Smith & Richardson, 1985). Bröder argues that the extreme examples of elaborate deception cited by these critics are rare.

In the decades since the Milgram experiments, some researchers have attempted to assess the use of deception to see if elaborate deception has indeed become less common. Because most of the concern over this type of deception arises in social psychological research, attempts to address this issue have focused on social psychology. Gross and Fleming (1982) reviewed 691 social psychological studies published in the 1960s and 1970s. Although most research in the 1970s still used deception, the deception primarily involved false cover stories.

Page 56Has the trend away from deception continued? Sieber, Iannuzzo, and Rodriguez (1995) examined the studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1969, 1978, 1986, and 1992. The number of studies that used some form of deception decreased from 66% in 1969 to 47% in 1978 and to 32% in 1986 but increased again to 47% in 1992. The large drop in 1986 may be due to an increase that year in the number of studies on such topics as personality that require no deception to carry out. Also, informed consent was more likely to be explicitly described in 1992 than in previous years, and debriefing was more likely to be mentioned in the years after 1969. However, false cover stories are still frequently used. Korn (1997) has also concluded that use of deception is decreasing in social psychology.

There are three primary reasons for a decrease in the type of elaborate deception seen in the Milgram study. First, more researchers have become interested in cognitive variables rather than emotions and so use methods that are similar to those used by researchers in memory and cognitive psychology. Second, the general level of awareness of ethical issues as described in this chapter has led researchers to conduct studies in other ways. Third, ethics committees at universities and colleges now review proposed research more carefully, so elaborate deception is likely to be approved only when the research is important and there are no alternative procedures available (ethics review boards are described later in this chapter).

THE IMPORTANCE OF DEBRIEFING

Debriefing occurs after the completion of a study. It is an opportunity for the researcher to deal with issues of withholding information, deception, and potential harmful effects of participation. Debriefing is one way that researchers can follow the guidelines in the APA Ethics Code, particularly Principles B (Fidelity and Responsibility), C (Integrity), and E (Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity).

If participants were deceived in any way, the researcher needs to explain why the deception was necessary. If the research altered a participant’s physical or psychological state in some way—as in a study that produces stress—the researcher must make sure that the participant has calmed down and is comfortable about having participated. If a participant needs to receive additional information or to speak with someone else about the study, the researcher should provide access to these resources. The participants should leave the experiment without any ill feelings toward the field of psychology, and they may even leave with some new insight into their own behavior or personality.

Debriefing also provides an opportunity for the researcher to explain the purpose of the study and tell participants what kinds of results are expected and perhaps discuss the practical implications of the results. In some cases, researchers may contact participants later to inform them of the actual results of the study. Thus, debriefing has both an educational and an ethical purpose.

The Milgram study can also teach us something about the importance of debriefing. Milgram described a very thorough debriefing. However, an Page 57examination of original records and interviews with subjects by Perry (2013) reveals that often the debriefing was little more than seeing that Mr. Wallace was indeed not harmed. Many subjects were rushed from the lab; some did not even learn that no shocks were actually administered but only found that out when Milgram mailed a report of his research findings to the subjects 6 months after data collection was completed (and some never received the letter). Today we would consider Milgram’s less than thorough debriefing immediately following the experiment to be a real problem with his research procedure.

Despite all the problems of the stress of the procedure and the rather sloppy debriefing, most of the subjects in the Milgram studies were positive about their experience. The letter that Milgram sent with a detailed report of the study included a questionnaire to assess subjects’ reactions to the experiment; 92% of the subjects returned the questionnaire. The responses showed that 84% were glad that they had participated, and 74% said they had benefited from the experience. Only 1% said they were sorry they had participated (Blass, 2004). Other researchers who have conducted further work on the ethics of the Milgram study reached the same conclusion (Ring, Wallston, & Corey, 1970).

More generally, research on the effectiveness of debriefing indicates that debriefing is an effective way of dealing with deception and other ethical issues that arise in research investigations (Oczak, 2007; Smith, 1983; Smith & Richardson, 1983). There is some evidence that in at least some circumstances, the debriefing needs to be thorough to be effective. In a study on debriefing by McFarland, Cheam, and Buehler (2007), participants were given false feedback about their ability to accurately judge whether suicide notes were genuine. After making judgment, they were told that they had succeeded or failed at the task. The researchers then gave different types of debriefing. A minimal debriefing only mentioned that the feedback they received was not based on their performance at all. A more thorough debriefing also included information that the suicide notes were not real. Participants with the additional information had a more accurate assessment of their ability than did subjects receiving the minimal debriefing procedure.

INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS

While the Belmont Report provided an outline for issues of research ethics and the APA Ethics Code provides guidelines as well, the actual rules and regulations for the protection of human research participants were issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Under these regulations (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001), every institution that receives federal funds must have an Institutional Review Board (IRB) that is responsible for the review of research conducted within the institution. IRBs are local review agencies composed of at least five individuals; at least one member of the IRB must be from outside the institution. Every college and university in the United States that receives federal funding has an IRB; in addition, most psychology departments have their own research Page 58review committee (Chastain & Landrum, 1999). All research conducted by faculty, students, and staff associated with the institution is reviewed in some way by the IRB. This includes research that may be conducted at another location such as a school, community agency, hospital, or via the Internet.

The federal regulations for IRB oversight of research continue to evolve. For example, all researchers must now complete specified educational requirements. Most colleges and universities require students and faculty to complete one or more online tutorials on research ethics to meet these requirements.

The HHS regulations also categorized research according to the amount of risk involved in the research. This concept of risk was later incorporated into the Ethics Code of the American Psychological Association.

Exempt Research

Research in which there is no risk is exempt from review. Thus, anonymous questionnaires, surveys, and educational tests are all considered exempt research, as is naturalistic observation in public places when there is no threat to anonymity. Archival research in which the data being studied are publicly available or the participants cannot be identified is exempt as well. This type of research requires no informed consent. However, researchers cannot decide by themselves that research is exempt; instead, the IRB at the institution formulates a procedure to allow a researcher to apply for exempt status.

Minimal Risk Research

A second type of research activity is called minimal risk, which means that the risks of harm to participants are no greater than risks encountered in daily life or in routine physical or psychological tests. When minimal risk research is being conducted, elaborate safeguards are less of a concern, and approval by the IRB is routine. Some of the research activities considered minimal risk are (1) recording routine physiological data from adult participants (e.g., weighing, tests of sensory acuity, electrocardiography, electroencephalography, diagnostic echography, and voice recordings)—note that this would not include recordings that might involve invasion of privacy; (2) moderate exercise by healthy volunteers; and (3) research on individual or group behavior or characteristics of individuals—such as studies of perception, cognition, game theory, or test development—in which the researcher does not manipulate participants’ behavior and the research will not involve stress to participants.

Greater Than Minimal Risk Research

Any research procedure that places participants at greater than minimal risk is subject to thorough review by the IRB. Complete informed consent and other safeguards may be required before approval is granted.

Researchers planning to conduct an investigation are required to submit an application to the IRB. The application requires description of risks and benefits, procedures for minimizing risk, the exact wording of the informed consent form, how participants will be debriefed, and procedures for maintaining confidentiality. Even after a project is approved, there is continuing review. If it is a long-term project, it will be reviewed at least once each year. If there are any changes in procedures, researchers are required to obtain approval from the IRB. The three risk categories are summarized in Table 3.1.

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TABLE 3.1 Assessment of risk

RESEARCH WITH NONHUMAN ANIMAL SUBJECTS

Although much of this chapter has been concerned with the ethics of research with humans, you are no doubt well aware that psychologists sometimes conduct research with animals (Akins, Panicker, & Cunningham, 2005). Animals are used in behavioral research for a variety of reasons. Researchers can carefully control the environmental conditions of the animals, study the same animals over a long period, and monitor their behavior 24 hours a day if necessary. Animals are also used to test the effects of drugs and to study physiological and genetic mechanisms underlying behavior.

Page 60About 7% of the articles in Psychological Abstracts (now PsycINFO) in 1979 described studies involving nonhuman animals (Gallup & Suarez, 1985), and data indicate that the amount of research done with animals has been steadily declining (Thomas & Blackman, 1992). Most commonly, psychologists work with rats and mice and, to a lesser extent, birds (usually pigeons); according to surveys of animal research in psychology journals, over 95% of the animals used in research are rats, mice, and birds (see Gallup & Suarez, 1985; Viney, King, & Berndt, 1990). Some of the decline in animal research is attributed to increased interest in conducting cognitive research with human participants (Viney, et al., 1990). This interest in cognition is now extending to research with dogs. Canine cognition labs have been growing at universities in the United States, Canada, and around the world (e.g., Yale, Harvard, Duke, Barnard, University of Florida, University of Western Ontario; see, for example, dogcognition.com). Typically the subjects are family pets that are brought to the lab by their owners.

In recent years, groups opposed to animal research in medicine, psychology, biology, and other sciences have become more vocal and active. Animal rights groups have staged protests at conventions of the American Psychological Association, animal research laboratories in numerous cities have been vandalized, and researchers have received threats of physical harm.

Scientists argue that animal research benefits humans and point to many discoveries that would not have been possible without animal research (Carroll & Overmier, 2001; Miller, 1985). Also, animal rights groups often exaggerate the amount of research that involves any pain or suffering whatsoever (Coile & Miller, 1984).

Plous (1996a, 1996b) conducted a national survey of attitudes toward the use of animals in research and education among psychologists and psychology majors. The attitudes of both psychologists and psychology students were quite similar. In general, there is support for animal research: 72% of the students support such research, 18% oppose it, and 10% are unsure (the psychologists “strongly” support animal research more than the students, however). In addition, 68% believe that animal research is necessary for progress in psychology. Still, there is some ambivalence and uncertainty about the use of animals: When asked whether animals in psychological research are treated humanely, 12% of the students said “no” and 44% were “unsure.” In addition, research involving rats or pigeons was viewed more positively than research with dogs or primates unless the research is strictly observational. Plous concluded that animal research in psychology will continue to be important for the field but will likely continue to decline as a proportion of the total amount of research conducted.

Animal research is indeed very important and will continue to be necessary to study many types of research. It is crucial to recognize that strict laws and ethical guidelines govern both research with animals and teaching procedures in which animals are used. Such regulations deal with the need for proper housing, feeding, cleanliness, and health care. They specify that the research must avoid any cruelty in the form of unnecessary pain to the animal. In addition, institutions in which animal research is carried out must have an Institutional Animal Care and Page 61Use Committee (IACUC) composed of at least one scientist, one veterinarian, and a community member. The IACUC is charged with reviewing animal research procedures and ensuring that all regulations are adhered to (see Holden, 1987).

The APA Ethics Code (see Appendix B) addresses the ethical responsibilities of researchers when studying nonhuman animals. APA has also developed a more detailed Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in the Care and Use of Nonhuman Animals (http://www.apa.org/science/leadership/care/guidelines.aspx). Clearly, psychologists are concerned about the welfare of animals used in research. Nonetheless, this issue likely will continue to be controversial.

BEING AN ETHICAL RESEARCHER: THE ISSUE OF MISREPRESENTATION

Principle C of the APA Ethics Code focuses on integrity. The ethical researcher acts with integrity and in so doing does not engage in misrepresentation. Specifically, we will explore two specific types of misrepresentation: fraud and plagiarism.

Fraud

The fabrication of data is fraud. We must be able to believe the reported results of research; otherwise, the entire foundation of the scientific method as a means of knowledge is threatened. In fact, although fraud may occur in many fields, it probably is most serious in two areas: science and journalism. This is because science and journalism are both fields in which written reports are assumed to be accurate descriptions of actual events. There are no independent accounting agencies to check on the activities of scientists and journalists.

Instances of fraud in the field of psychology are considered to be very serious (cf. Hostetler, 1987; Riordan & Marlin, 1987), but fortunately, they are very rare (Murray, 2002). Perhaps the most famous case is that of Sir Cyril Burt, who reported that the IQ scores of identical twins reared apart were highly similar. The data were used to support the argument that genetic influences on IQ are extremely important. However, Kamin (1974) noted some irregularities in Burt’s data. A number of correlations for different sets of twins were exactly the same to the third decimal place, virtually a mathematical impossibility. This observation led to the discovery that some of Burt’s presumed co-workers had not in fact worked with him or had simply been fabricated. Ironically, though, Burt’s “data” were close to what has been reported by other investigators who have studied the IQ scores of twins.

In most cases, fraud is detected when other scientists cannot replicate the results of a study. Suspicions of fabrication of research data by social psychologist Karen Ruggiero arose when other researchers had difficulty replicating her published findings. The researcher subsequently resigned from her academic position and retracted her research findings (Murray, 2002). Sometimes fraud is detected by a colleague or by students who worked with the researcher. For example, Stephen Page 62Breuning was guilty of faking data showing that stimulants could be used to reduce hyperactive and aggressive behavior in children (Byrne, 1988). In this case, another researcher who had worked closely with Breuning had suspicions about the data; he then informed the federal agency that had funded the research.

A recent case of extensive fraud that went undetected for years involves a social psychologist at Tilburg University in the Netherlands (Verfaellie & McGwin, 2011). Diederik Stapel not only created data that changed the outcome of studies that were conducted, he also reported results of studies that were never conducted at all. His studies were published in prestigious journals and often reported in popular news outlets because his research reported intriguing findings (e.g., being in a messy, disorderly environment results in more stereotypical and discriminatory thoughts). Students eventually reported their suspicions to the university administration, but the fact that Stapel’s misconduct continued for so long is certainly troublesome. According to a committee that investigated Stapel, one cause was the fact the professor was powerful, prestigious, and charismatic. He would work closely with students to design studies but then collect the data himself. He would invite a colleague to take his existing data set to analyze and write a report. These are highly unusual practices but his students and colleagues did not question him.

Fraud is not a major problem in science in part because researchers know that others will read their reports and conduct further studies, including replications. They know that their reputations and careers will be seriously damaged if other scientists conclude that the results are fraudulent. In addition, the likelihood of detection of fraud has increased in recent years as data accessibility has become more open: Regulations of most funding agencies require researchers to make their data accessible to other scientists.

Why, then, do researchers sometimes commit fraud? For one thing, scientists occasionally find themselves in jobs with extreme pressure to produce impressive results. This is not a sufficient explanation, of course, because many researchers maintain high ethical standards under such pressure. Another reason is that researchers who feel a need to produce fraudulent data have an exaggerated fear of failure, as well as a great need for success and the admiration that comes with it. Every report of scientific misconduct includes a discussion of motivations such as these.

One final point: Allegations of fraud should not be made lightly. If you disagree with someone’s results on philosophical, political, religious, or other grounds, it does not mean that they are fraudulent. Even if you cannot replicate the results, the reason may lie in aspects of the methodology of the study rather than deliberate fraud. However, the fact that fraud could be a possible explanation of results stresses the importance of careful record keeping and documentation of the procedures and results.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism refers to misrepresenting another’s work as your own. Writers must give proper citation of sources. Plagiarism can take the form of submitting an entire paper written by someone else; it can also mean including a paragraph or Page 63even a sentence that is copied without using quotation marks and a reference to the source of the quotation. Plagiarism also occurs when you present another person’s ideas as your own rather than properly acknowledging the source of the ideas. Thus, even if you paraphrase the actual words used by a source, it is plagiarism if the source is not cited.

Although plagiarism is certainly not a new problem, access to Internet resources and the ease of copying material from the Internet may be increasing its prevalence. In fact, Szabo and Underwood (2004) report that more than 50% of a sample of British university students believe that using Internet resources for academically dishonest activities is acceptable. It is little wonder that many schools are turning to computer-based mechanisms of detecting plagiarism.

It is useful to further describe plagiarism as being “word for word” or “paraphrased.” Word-for-word plagiarism is when a writer copies a section of another person’s work word for word without providing quotation marks indicating that the segment was written by somebody else, nor a citation indicating the source of the information. As an example, consider the following paragraph from Burger (2009):

“Milgram’s obedience studies have maintained a place in psychology classes and textbooks largely because of their implications for understanding the worst of human behaviors, such as atrocities, massacres, and genocide.” (Burger, 2009, p.10).

Word-for-word plagiarism would be if a writer wrote the following in his or her work without attributing it to Burger (2009):

Since they were conducted in the 1960s, Milgram’s obedience studies have maintained a place in psychology classes and textbooks largely because of their implications for understanding the worst of human behaviors, including atrocities, massacres, and genocide.

In that case, plagiarized text is highlighted. Note that adding a few words, or changing a few words, does not change the fact that much of the text is taken from another source, without attribution.

Being an ethical writer would mean using quotation marks around sentences that were directly taken from the original source and including a citation. For instance:

Burger (2009) concluded that since they were conducted in the 1960s “Milgram’s obedience studies have maintained a place in psychology classes and textbooks largely because of their implications for understanding the worst of human behaviors, such as atrocities, massacres, and genocide.” (p. 10).

Paraphrasing is when a writer expresses the meaning of a passage of text without using the actual words of the text. So, in paraphrasing plagiarism the words are not directly copied without attribution, but the ideas are copied without attribution. Page 64Note that there is not a “number or percentage of words” that moves writing from plagiarism to not being plagiarism, but rather it is the underlying idea.

An example of paraphrasing plagiarism is more difficult. Let us use the same passage:

“Milgram’s obedience studies have maintained a place in psychology classes and textbooks largely because of their implications for understanding the worst of human behaviors, such as atrocities, massacres, and genocide.” (Burger, 2009, p. 10).

One example of paraphrasing plagiarism would be:

Humans are capable of many vile and reprehensible acts. The reality is that Milgram’s studies have remained important to psychology because they seem to explain these behaviors.

Here the basic idea presented is directly related to the passage in Burger (2009). In this case, ethical writing may be:

Humans are capable of many vile and reprehensible acts. The reality is that Milgram’s studies have remained important to psychology because they seem to explain these behaviors (Burger, 2009).

Figure 3.2 provides a useful guide in how to understanding plagiarism in your own writing using two key questions: Did I write the words? And did I think of the idea?

FIGURE 3.2

Guide for avoiding plagiarism in writing

Page 65Plagiarism is wrong and can lead to many severe consequences, including academic sanctions such as a failing grade or expulsion from the school. Because plagiarism is often a violation of copyright law, it can be prosecuted as a criminal offense as well. Finally, it is interesting to note that some students believe that citing sources weakens their paper—that they are not being sufficiently original. In fact, Harris (2002) notes that student papers are actually strengthened when sources are used and properly cited.

CONCLUSION: RISKS AND BENEFITS REVISITED

You are now familiar with the ethical issues that confront researchers who study human and animal behavior. When you make decisions about research ethics, you need to consider the many factors associated with risk to the participants. Are there risks of psychological harm or loss of confidentiality? Who are the research participants? What types of deception, if any, are used in the procedure? How will informed consent be obtained? What debriefing procedures are being used? You also need to weigh the direct benefits of the research to the participants, as well as the scientific importance of the research and the educational benefits to the students who may be conducting the research for a class or degree requirement (see Figure 3.3).

These are not easy decisions. Consider a study in which a confederate posing as another subject insults the participant (Vasquez, Pederson, Bushman, Kelley, Demeestere, & Miller, 2013). The subject wrote an essay expressing attitudes on a controversial topic; subsequently, the subject heard the confederate evaluate the essay as unclear, unconvincing, and “one of the worst things I have read in a long time.” The subject could then behave aggressively in choosing the amount of hot sauce that the other person would have to consume in another part of the experiment. The insult did lead to choosing more hot sauce, particularly if the subject was given an opportunity to ruminate about it rather than being distracted by other tasks. Instances of aggression following perceived insults are common so you can argue that this is an important topic. Do you believe that the potential benefits of the study to society and science outweigh the risks involved in the procedure?

Obviously, an IRB reviewing this study concluded that the researchers had sufficiently minimized risks to the participants such that the benefits outweighed the costs. If you ultimately decide that the costs outweigh the benefits, you must conclude that the study cannot be conducted in its current form. You may suggest alternative procedures that could make it acceptable. If the benefits outweigh the costs, you will likely decide that the research should be carried out. Your calculation might differ from another person’s calculation, which is precisely why having ethics review boards is such a good idea. An appropriate review of research proposals makes it highly unlikely that unethical research will be approved.

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FIGURE 3.3

Analysis of risks and benefits

Ethical guidelines and regulations evolve over time. The APA Ethics Code and federal, state, and local regulations may be revised periodically. Researchers need to always be aware of the most current policies and procedures. In the following chapters, we will discuss many specific procedures for studying behavior. As you read about these procedures and apply them to research you may be interested in, remember that ethical considerations are always paramount.

In the time when Stanley Milgram was conceptualizing his obedience experiments there were no institutional review boards. If there had been, it might have been a difficult study to have approved. Participants were not informed of the purpose of the study (indeed, they were deceived into thinking that it was a study of learning), and they were also deceived into thinking that they were harming another person. The struggle is, of course, that if participants had known the true nature of the study, or that they were not really delivering electric shocks, the results would not have been as meaningful.

The Milgram study was partially replicated by Berger in 2009. That study is included as the Illustrative Article for this chapter.

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ILLUSTRATIVE ARTICLE: REPLICATION OF MILGRAM

Burger (2009) conducted a partial replication of the classic Stanley Milgram obedience studies.

First, acquire and read the article:

Burger, J. M. (2009). Replicating Milgram: Would people still obey today? American Psychologist, 64(1), 1–11. doi:10.1037/a0010932

Then, after reading the article, consider the following:

1. Conduct an informal risk-benefit analysis. What are the risks and benefits inherent in this study as described? Do you think that the study is ethically justifiable given your analysis? Why or why not?

2. Do you think that the study is ethically justifiable given your analysis? Why or why not?

3. How did Burger screen participants in the study? What was the purpose of the screening procedure?

4. Burger paid participants $50 for two 45-minute sessions. Could this be considered coercive? Why or why not?

5. Describe the risks to research participants in Burger’s study.

6. Burger uses deception in this study. Is it acceptable? Do you believe that the debriefing session described in the report adequately addresses the issues of deception?

Study Terms

APA Ethics Code (p. 47)

Autonomy (Belmont Report) (p. 46)

Belmont Report (p. 46)

Beneficence (Belmont Report) (p. 47)

Confidentiality (p. 50)

Debriefing (p. 56)

Deception (p. 54)

Exempt research (p. 58)

Fidelity and Responsibility (p. 47)

Fraud (p. 61)

IACUC (p. 61)

Informed consent (p. 51)

Institutional Review Board (IRB) (p. 57)

Integrity (p. 48)

Justice (Belmont Report) (p. 48)

Minimal risk research (p. 58)

Paraphrasing plagiarism (p. 63)

Plagiarism (p. 62)

Respect for person (p. 48)

Risk (p. 49)

Risk-benefit analysis (p. 49)

Word-for-word plagiarism (p. 63)

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Review Questions

1. Discuss the major ethical issues in behavioral research including risks, benefits, deception, debriefing, informed consent, and justice. How can researchers weigh the need to conduct research against the need for ethical procedures?

2. Why is informed consent an ethical principle? What are the potential problems with obtaining fully informed consent?

3. What alternatives to deception are described in the text?

4. Summarize the principles concerning research with human participants in the APA Ethics Code.

5. What is the difference between “no risk” and “minimal risk” research activities?

6. What is an Institutional Review Board?

7. Summarize the ethical procedures for research with animals.

8. What constitutes fraud, what are some reasons for its occurrence, and why does it not occur more frequently?

9. Describe how you would proceed to identify plagiarism in a writing assignment.

Activities

1. Find your college’s code of student conduct online and review the section on plagiarism. How would you improve this section? What would you tell your professors to do to help students avoid plagiarism?

2. Indiana University created an excellent online resource called “How to Recognize Plagiarism” (you can find it here: https://www.indiana.edu/∼istd/plagiarism_test.html). Complete the test!

3. Consider the following experiment, similar to one that was conducted by Smith, Lingle, and Brock (1978). Each participant interacted for an hour with another person who was actually an accomplice. After this interaction, both persons agreed to return 1 week later for another session with each other. When the real participants returned, they were informed that the person they had met the week before had died. The researchers then measured reactions to the death of the person.

a. Discuss the ethical issues raised by the experiment.

b. Would the experiment violate the guidelines articulated in APA Ethical Standard 8 dealing with research with human participants? In what ways?

c. What alternative methods for studying this problem (reactions to death) might you suggest?

d. Would your reactions to this study be different if the participants had played with an infant and then later been told that the infant had died?Page 69

4. In a procedure described in this chapter, participants are given false feedback about an unfavorable personality trait or a low ability level. What are the ethical issues raised by this procedure? Compare your reactions to that procedure with your reactions to an analogous one in which people are given false feedback that they possess a very favorable personality trait or a very high ability level.

5. A social psychologist conducts a field experiment at a local bar that is popular with college students. Interested in observing flirting techniques, the investigator instructs male and female confederates to smile and make eye contact with others at the pub for varying amounts of time (e.g., 2 seconds, 5 seconds, etc.) and varying numbers of times (e.g., once, twice, etc.). The investigator observes the responses of those receiving the gaze. What ethical considerations, if any, do you perceive in this field experiment? Is there any deception involved?

6. Should people who are observed in field experiments be debriefed? Write a paragraph supporting the proposition and another paragraph supporting the con position.

7. Dr. Alucard conducted a study to examine various aspects of the sexual behaviors of college students. The students filled out a questionnaire in a classroom on the campus; about 50 students were tested at a time. The questionnaire asked about prior experience with various sexual practices. If a student had experience, a number of other detailed questions were asked. However, if the student did not have any prior experience, he or she skipped the detailed questions and simply went on to answer another general question about a sexual experience. What ethical issues arise when conducting research such as this? Do you detect any specific problems that might arise because of the “skip” procedure used in this study?

8. Read the following research scenarios and assess the risk to participants by placing a check mark in the appropriate box (answers on next page).

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9. Review this slide show that describes the Stanford Prison Experiment: http://www.prisonexp.org. Then address questions 12 and 13 from the Discussion Questions on the website:

· Was it ethical to do this study? Was it right to trade the suffering experienced by participants for the knowledge gained by the research? (The Page 71experimenters did not take this issue lightly, although the Slide Show may sound somewhat matter-of-fact about the events and experiences that occurred.) (Source: http://www.prisonexp.org/discussion.htm)

· How do the ethical dilemmas in this research compare with the ethical issues raised by Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments? Would it be better if these studies had never been done? (Source: http://www.prisonexp.org/discussion.htm)

Answers

QUESTION 8:

a. Greater than minimal risk

b. Minimal risk

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