View the step-by-step solution to:


**I need a one page paper please, details below.**

What were the ethical concerns involved in the Stanford

Prison Experiment, Asch's Conformity Experiment, and Milgram's Shock-Obedience Experiment? Should researchers be able to use deception for the sake of their experiments? Write 1 to 2 pages describing why or why not?

This article provides a wonderful opportunity to further analyze Stanley Milgram's shock experiment. It adds further insight into the ethics of the study, which will assist you in your written assignment.

What Price Knowledge? 

Social Science and Public Policy What Price Knowledge? Arthur G. Miller T he experiments of Stanley Milgram on obedience to authority have achieved a visibility that is without precedent in the social sciences. Although conducted more than twenty years ago, Milgram's research may be the most widely cited program of studies in psychology. The treatment given to these experiments in textbooks is extraordinary in terms of space alone. It is not uncom- mon for several pages to be allotted, including pho- tographs of Milgram's laboratory and of actual episodes of genocide or destructive obedience as these have oc- curred in our history. The obedience experiments, which in many respects are unique and unlike any other variety of behavioral research, have come to be the focal point for analyses and debates about research ethics. From its in- ception, Milgram's work unleashed a storm of ethical controversy. The experiment was conducted at Yale University. The subjects, recruited by newspaper advertisement and mail solicitation, were forty men, ranging in age (twenty to fifty) and socioeconomic circumstances (postal clerks, en- gineers, laborers, high-school teachers, and so on). They receive $4.50 for their participation. The stated purpose ofthe study was to examine the effects of punishment on learning. A highly credible rationale for the ensuing study was presented, one that would justify the use of electric shocks. Three individuals participated in the basic experiment: The experimenter, played by a thirty-one-year-old high- school teacher; the learner (or victim), played by a forty- seven-year-old accountant; and the teacher, always des- tined, by a fixed draw, to be played by the real or true subject. After a short briefing by the experimenter and the role assignments, the learner was placed in an electric- chair apparatus, and an elaborate description was given regarding the nature of the task to be learned and the punishment delivery system. The teacher was instructed to read a series of word pairs to the learner and then to read the first word ofa pair and four possible associations. The learner was to indicate which of the four associations had been paired with the first word. The response alternatives consisted of four numbered switches, each of which would light up a corre- sponding indicator light on the top ofthe shock generator in front of the teacher. The instructions authorized the teacher to punish the learner for each error of recall by pressing a lever on a shock generator. The teacher was also required to announce over an intercom the outcome of each trial, the correct answer if an error had been made, and the amount of shock voltage which would be mo- mentarily forthcoming. The shock generator consisted of a panel with thirty levers, each accompanying a designated voltage ranging from 15 to 450 volts. Various switches, dials, indicator lights, and meters gave a highly authentic appearance to the generator. Particularly important (and later to be- come a point of controversy) were the verbal labels en- graved at various intervals (Slight Shock, Moderate Shock, Strong Shock, Very Strong Shock, Intense Shock, Extreme Intensity Shock, Danger: Severe Shock). The last two shock levers (that is, 435v, 450v) were marked XXX. There was no attempt to conceal the fact that very power- ful shocks could be delivered using this formidable piece of apparatus. To convince subjects ofthe realistic punish- ment that could be administered, each teacher received a sample shock—more than a tingle—which was described as being 45 volts, that is, position #3 on the generator. Milgram reported that no subject suspected the simulated aspect ofthe generator. Considerable controversy arose regarding the precise amount of harm that subjects perceived could be inflicted during the experiment. While being strapped into place and having the electrodes attached to his arm, the learner was instructed to inquire about the prospect of being harmed. The experimenter's standard response was: "Al- though the shocks can be extremely painful, they cause no permanent tissue damage." The delivery of punishment thus occurred in the con- text of an interaction between the experimenter (au- thority), the teacher, and the learner. The teacher was required to increase the voltage level by one switch, (that is, by 15 volts) for each error made by the learner. On 25 percent of the trials, the learner made the "correct" re- sponse to lend a note of credibility to his performance. In response to questions or hesitation on the part of the teacher, the experimenter answered with one of four in- creasingly strident prods, to the point that the teacher
Background image of page 1
60/SOCIETY • MARCH / APRIL 1986 should cotititiue. If the subject refused to continue after the fourth prod, the experiment was terminated. There were various inquiries from subjects that received stan- dardized replies, such as a reassurance that no permanent tissue damage would occur, or the fact that "whether the learner likes it or not, you must go on until he has learned all the word pairs correctly," or the fact that the experi- menter would assume responsibility for the learner's welfare. The physical setting involved the teacher and learner in adjacent rooms, with the experimenter in the same room as the teacher. If the subject (teacher) continued to shock the learner to the 300 volt level (the twentieth lever), feed- back from the learner was supplied by his pounding on the wall. This was clearly audible to the teacher. After this point, the learner's responses no longer appeared on the indicator light. This nonresponse was, according to the experimenter, to be treated as an error, with the shock series being continued as it had been to this point. Milgram's experiment is unique in using verbal com- mands that blatantly contradict the subject's wishes. The element of authority seems to occur most vividly at the third prod—"It is absolutely essential that you continue." This assertion is qualitatively more emphatic than the two earlier prods ("Please continue. . . . The experiment requires that you continue"). The fmal prod—"You have no other choice, you must go on"—is a clear falsehood. That such verbal utterances, without clear substantive meaning, appear to have strongly influenced subjects to shock (in their own minds) a protesting individual is one ofthe most intriguing findings ofthe study. Responses to Authority The primary measure was the maximum shock admin- istered to the learner, ranging in principle from 0 to 450 volts. Although individual differences in following orders were clearly evident, Milgram's orientation always focused upon the ultimate behavior: "A subject who breaks off the experiment at any point prior to admin- istering the thirtieth shock level is termed a deftant sub- ject. One who complies with experimental commands fully, and proceeds to administer all shock levels com- manded, is termed an obedient subject." This categorical designation—obedience versus de- fiance—has an appealing simplicity, and facilitates a comparison of different procedural variations on the sub- jects' performance. Milgram described a total of eighteen experimental variations on the basic paradigm in his 1974 book Obedience to Authority. Of the forty subjects participating in the baseline ex- periment described in Milgram's 1963 publication in the Journal of Abrtormal and Social Psychology, twenty-six pressed the 450-volt switch. This result—an obedience rate of 65 percent—is the major finding of the study. It has become the most well-known result ofthe entire obe- dience research project, despite the fact that in a number of Milgram's experiments, the obedience rate dropped to zero. The 65 percent obedience result has become a base- line finding against which other findings, including peo- ple's intuitive perceptions, are compared. After the experiments, a debate between Milgram and D. Baumrind appeared in the 1964 American Psychol- ogist. A strong case could be made that this was the impe- tus for a renaissance of sensitivity to ethical issues in human experimentation. Their exchange is invariably cited in any serious review of research ethics. It was not simply that Milgram had used deception, for countless studies prior to his own had used this procedure, often to an extreme degree. Nor was the use of electric shock, or at least the prospect of delivering it, a key factor. There was Milgram denied that his subjects experienced psychological trauma of any significant duration. something about the obedience experiments that aroused a particularly hostile reaction in many readers, a reaction often involving a general rejection of the experiments and, at least by implication, a personal attack on Milgram himself. It is also true that the obedience research, be- cause of its novelty and vivid impact, sensitized social scientists to a broad array of ethical issues which were, in principle, applicable to research in general, research of a more benign surface quality. We could reason that any research investigation that achieves the kind of celebrity status accorded to Milgram's work is likely to elicit criticism simply because of its visibility This is not applicable to the obedience experiments, for they were the subject of an impassioned and (what turned out to be an) extraordinarily infiuential ethical criticism less than one year after Milgram's initial publication in 1963. It was Milgram's response to Baumrind—and his published reactions to a number of other critics as well—that helped to construct an instruc- tive and enriched scholarly foundation for the controver- sies that emanated from the obedience experiments. Students of the obedience research stand to profit, not simply in being able to arrive at a verdict in terms of whether Milgram "wins or loses" the debate, but rather in learning about the values and premises that generate questions about these experiments, and the strategies and resourcefulness of Milgram and others, in answering them. Baumrind opened her essay with a recognition that cer- tain types of psychological research may prove unsettling to subjects. Noting that the experimenter is obliged to be attentive to the subjects' sense of well-being, particularly if the treatment has induced feelings of insecurity, anxiety, or hostility, Baumrind emphasized the dependent posture
Background image of page 2
Show entire document
Sign up to view the entire interaction

Top Answer

View the full answer
Stanford Prison Experiment.docx

Stanford Prison Experiment
It is important to note that the Stanford Prison Experiment was not ethical based on the
psychological effects that prisons have on every individual in the society, not...

Sign up to view the full answer

Why Join Course Hero?

Course Hero has all the homework and study help you need to succeed! We’ve got course-specific notes, study guides, and practice tests along with expert tutors.


Educational Resources
  • -

    Study Documents

    Find the best study resources around, tagged to your specific courses. Share your own to gain free Course Hero access.

    Browse Documents
  • -

    Question & Answers

    Get one-on-one homework help from our expert tutors—available online 24/7. Ask your own questions or browse existing Q&A threads. Satisfaction guaranteed!

    Ask a Question
Ask a homework question - tutors are online