Ethical Issues in Research

There are some key issues in regards to ethics in research especially in psychological or sociological research. Generally a researcher needs to keep the following things in mind well considering research.

Anonymity – The right of the people in the research to remain unidentified unless they agree to be identified through proper legal process otherwise.

Consent and purpose – People in a study have a right to know what is going to occur to them and what the goals of the study are. They also must give written agreement to participate in the study.

Respecting diversity – A researcher must take into to consideration the understanding capabilities of the participants in which they study. The way a researcher conducts a study on a child or mentally disabled person would be appropriately different than the way a study would be conducted on a fully functioning adult.

Benefice – This term refers to the consequences both positive and negative of any given study. The benefits should be more than what the participants of a particular research study had to give up emotionally and physically.

Even distribution – If there are any benefits to a particular study the benefit must be given equally to everyone. For example it would be unethical to give one study group a treatment for aids and the other group only a placebo.

Approved – All studies must be approved by a government operated board.

Examples of possibly unethical studies. Little Albert by Watson. The Stanford Prison experiment by Phillip Zimbardo.

Little Albert at nine months had no idea what was happening to him. Nor could he understand the possible effects of what occurred to him when exposed to white rodents and loud noises simultaneously. Though being afraid of white fuzzy things throughout life may not have been a large concern to living a healthy and productive life, Albert may never had the opportunity to enjoy something like a career as a veterinary.

Phillip Zimbardo conducted a study with regular college students by putting some in the position of prison guards and others in the position of prison inmates. The participants had little to no idea what the emotional effects of the experiment might entail and they surely didn’t get informed that they would have to strip down naked as a part of the experiment. Though the intellectual outcome and the broad applications of the experiment were made famous and proved highly useful, the experiment could not be performed again as it is not by today’s standards considered ethical.