There are some aspects of human behavior and mental processes that would not be
ethical to study even if the participants freely consented to be studied.
Ethical standards with regard to experimentation are subject to governmental regulations
where federal funding is apparent (Kornblum, pg. 41). The text lists 5 key ethical issues
revolving around human psychological research, including: Freedom from coercion,
informed consent, limited deception, adequate debriefing, and confidentiality (Lahay, pg.
48). According to Lahay, requirements for institutions conducting research include
approval from a board of outside scientists (pg. 48).
I believe there are certain aspects of behavior and mental processes that should not be
studied even with the participant's approval. Study of subjects that were involved with
committing crimes would be at the top of the list. For example, a study involving
naturalistic observation of a kleptomaniac in action seems to me as unethical practice.
While the observer is not taking part in the crime, he is not actively preventing it either.
Furthermore, there may be a possibility that the said criminal's need to steal is
heightened due to the researcher's requirement for consent.
Another example of studying behavior or mental processes that may present itself
unethical might involve studying children. Even though parental consent may be given
the child would not necessarily have to be informed of the study. An example might be a
study where a badly behaved child is seated next to a compliant child to see if the
behaviors change. Regardless of the effect on the badly behaved child, the compliant
child could quite possibly experience higher levels of stress or anxiety.
I think that good example of not ethical experiment would be "little Albert." John Watson,
the founder of behaviorism, conducted an influential early study of generalization.
Watson and Rosaline Rayner...