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Ethical Guidelines

San Diego State University : SDSU
Uploaded: A week ago
Contributor: Sdav
Category: Psychology and Mental Health
Type: Lecture Notes
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Filename:   Ethical Guidelines.docx (18.01 kB)
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An Ethics In Psychology course!
Need for Ethical Guidelines Due to what we know recognize as huge lapses in the history of research, the American Psychological Association (APA) has formulated guidelines governing ethical research practices. Before we discuss the APA’s, we will review the four major incidences that brought these unethical practices to light. They are: The research carried out by the Nazi’s during World War II The Tuskegee Syphilis Study The hepatitis research conducted at Willowbrook, and A series of experiments on obedience conducted by Stanley Milgram World War II After the Germans were defeated in World War II and the concentration camps were liberated, the Nuremburg War Tribunal was held to try the Nazis for war crimes. It became apparent that they conducted research in the most horrific fashion with no regard for the welfare and dignity of their subjects. In a number of cases, the “researchers” wanted to see if humans could survive once organs had been removed. They removed the organs without anesthesia. In many cases, subjects were left to die on operating room tables. The list goes on. In short, the Nazis’ research practices were horrific. The Nuremburg Code From these trails, the Nuremburg Code was developed. The Code stipulated that subjects (or participants) need to consent to participate in the research, subjects need to be fully informed of what is entailed in the research, precautions should be taken to avoid risks, participants should be protected against risks whenever possible, research should be conducted by trained professionals, and lastly that subjects can withdraw from the research whenever they choose. The Nuremburg Code set the stage for further refinements that the APA took when it became apparent that research practices still lacked sufficient guidance, as made evident by the remaining 3 items on the list. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was conducted from 1932 until 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service. Poor southern sharecroppers in rural Alabama were recruited and led to believe that they would be receiving free health care from the U.S. government. Of these 600 sharecroppers, 399 were already infected with the syphilis virus; 201 were not. In the 1940s, penicillin was recognized as being an effective treatment for syphilis, which is a potentially fatal sexually transmitted disease. Instead of treating the men who had been recruited already infected and those who became infected during the course of the study, the researchers observed the subjects as the disease progressed. A whistleblower leaked information about the Study to the press in 1972, which brought about the termination of the research. To put it mildly, the US Government had egg on its face. Willowbrook Hepatitis Study Starting in 1955 and lasting until 1970, mentally retarded children resided at Willowbrook State School in Staten Island, NY were infected with hepatitis so that researchers could track its progression as well as the effectiveness of the gamma globulin injections that were administered as a preventive measure. There are arguments for and against this study. The rate of injection at Willowbrook was very high. The case was made that infection would be likely to occur in this population anyway. As long as the research was being conducted, infected children received excellent care. Written consents were obtained from parents but the information provided to them was very scanty. Through this study, researchers came to differentiate between the Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B viruses, which greatly added to the fund of medical knowledge. There was, however, a tremendous cost to the participants. Milgram’s Obedience Studies The way in which concentration camp victims were exterminated during World War II led psychologist Stanley Milgram of Yale University to investigate the role obedience may have played. He wondered if perhaps the executioners had committed those horrific acts because they were following orders. Milgram set up a series of studies to address the issue. In its basic form, Milgram used what are called confederates, or fakers, to take memory tests and get a certain number of questions wrong deliberately. The subjects asked the questions. When the confederates gave an incorrect response, the subjects administered electrical shocks that started out fairly mild but increased in strength. (Unbeknownst to the subjects, the connection between the machine that produced the shocks and the wire on the confederate’s body had been severed.) They were told that the shocks wouldn’t kill anyone but they would be quite painful. As the memory test sessions progressed, the confederates became vocal about their pain and health conditions, indicating increasing difficulty tolerating the stronger and stronger shocks. When subjects became clearly uncomfortable with their task, a researcher in a white lab coat instructed them to continue. What was surprising to Milgram is the high number of subjects who complied with and administered the entire series of shocks. When the test session was over, the deception was revealed. Confederates greeted the subjects and assured the subjects that they hadn’t been shocked, they were perfectly fine, and so forth. The subjects harbored guilt for a long time about the pain they thought they had inflicted on the confederates. Although this study may have broadened our perspective about the role obedience to authority can play in a number of environments, the negative effects experiences by the subjects forced researchers to address the role deception can play in research. It is extremely doubtful that an experiment like this could be conducted today. The Writing o the APA Ethical Guidelines The original Code of ethics was published in 1973. A revision was released in 1982. With the advent of the computer and the Internet, the guidelines were rewritten again in 2002.

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