Is it ever right to lie to a participant in a psychological experiment? Is it ethical for psychological researchers to use procedures on human participants that involve loss of dignity, self-esteem and trust in rational authority? Research in psychology sometimes involves the deception of participants. This may be to a mild degree but in some cases however, psychologists have used extreme forms of deception. Stanley Milgrams experiment on deception (1964) is a classic example of an experiment that uses deception and has made a mark in psychology history as a result. Using Milgrams experiment and some of the arguments made by Diana Baumrind (1964) against it, we will explore the ethical credibility of it, and some of the ethical components of research experiments.
A big argument that Baumrind puts forward is the fact that "the laboratory is unfamiliar as a setting, and due to this may cause anxiety and passivity, resulting in the subject behaving in an obedient suggestible manner."
However Milgrams main objective was to maintain psychological understanding of obedience. This was prompted by the horrifying consequences of blind obedience by Nazis and other Germans during world war 2.Thus the intimidation of the participant by the authoritative experimenter - as closely simulated as one could get to the situation of Hitler towards his soldiers.
Although the obedience experiment would have most likely caused participants distress of some degree at the time of the experiment, there were no long-term effects. A year later an examining psychiatrist did a follow up study on subjects he thought most likely to have suffered consequences from participation. The conclusion he came to, was that although several subjects experienced extreme stress, none of the participants showed signs of any long-term harm. Evidently, Milgrams study of obedience was a positive...