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Ethics in Psychological Research

In: Psychology

Submitted By kell
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This paper will examine the ethical implications on psychological research of the Stanford Prison Experiment conducted at Stanford University in 1971. Ethics will be defined and the concept of risk/benefit ratio will be discussed. The Stanford Prison Experiment will be described. Finally, the impact of the Stanford Prison Experiment on psychological research will be evaluated.
Ethics Defined
Ethics is concerned with the principles of right conduct. In the philosophical use, ethics is a branch of philosophy that is concerned with the study of morals and how it is that moral decisions are made. Ethics also has a stricter use when dealing with the rules or standards that govern conduct and right behavior (The American Heritage Dictionary, 2000).
Risk/Benefit Ratio
Ethical approaches to research take into account the risk/benefit ratio. This simply means that the amount of benefit that comes from a study or research clearly outweighs any adverse risks to the subjects involved in the study or research. A study or research is only considered to be ethical if there is favorable risk benefit ratio (Wikipedia, 2008).
Background on the Stanford Prison Experiment
The Stanford Prison Experiment was created by Professor Philip Zimbardo who led a team of researchers at Stanford University in 1971. The study was designed to observe and study the human responses to captivity by both the inmates and the authority figures. In order to carry out the experiment, a mock prison was created in the basement of the Stanford psychology building and 24 males were selected to play the roles of both guards and inmates (Haney, 1973).
The participants were screened and selected form a pool of 75 candidates. The experiment began with the Palo Alto police department making fake arrests of the men chosen to act in the roles of the prisoners. Within 24 hours of the beginning of the experiment...

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