Archive for February, 2012
Milgram’s study is rated as the 8th most unethical experiment according to the American Government and if often spoken about as a study, which damaged people to a point that questioned the scientific reputation of psychology, however, when Milgram’s study is broken down, it is actually one of the few studies that maintained ethical guidelines. Therefore I am arguing the point that Milgram’s study should of taken place.
The psychological impact that Milgram’s study as had, has provided psychology with many long lasting theories into obedience and the effect of an authoritative figure. Further studies have also taken place which have supported Milgram’s findings, Hoffling (1966) conducted research into the obedience levels of nurses given instructions over the phone, they were told that they were speaking to a doctor and ordered to give a dangerous dosage of medicine to a sick patient, nurses are told never to carry out instructions given out over the phone. However, 21 out of the 22 nurses carried out the order, even though previously, 22 had filled out a questionnaire stating they would never carry out phone instructions. This study supports Milgram’s findings that obedience levels often increase when an authoritative figure is present.
Milgram’s study did actually meet all ethical guidelines:
Consent– all participants consented to the study and filled out a form before taking part.
Right to withdraw– participants were told that they could withdraw at any time and would still be paid for their participation, although they were encouraged to carry on throughout the study, if they requested to leave 3 times then they were allowed to do so, it is important to take note that only 60% continued to the end.
Debrief– participants were fully debriefed after the experiment and nobody left believing that they had actually harmed anyone. Milgram’s debriefing process actually extended and the participants were looked after beyond the ending of the experiment.
Protection– participants were protected throughout the study and afterwards by the debriefing process
Deception– deception had to take place in this experiment, like in many other experiments for the outcome to be true. If the participants knew they weren’t really shocking anyone, then they would have carried on until the end knowing they weren’t causing harm.
Confidentiality– the confidentiality of the participants was kept at all times during the experiment and even after, when Milgram wanted to release the video footage, he contacted each participant separately to get their approval, anyone who did not wish to be shown was blanked out.
It is also worth a note that Milgram presented his experiment in front of a team of psychologists and psychiatrists who all agreed that his experiment should take part and would not harm anyone indefinitely (also worth a note that they originally said this as they believed his experiment would have no significant findings) even after the experiment they believed that it should of taken place and did not cause any harm to any participants, it was agreed that Milgram took care of all participants to the best of his ability.
So in conclusion although Milgram’s study has been marked as unethical and when taught in A level psychology, it taught as the most horrific experiment that has taken place, when we compare this to studies such as ‘the Monster Study’ and the ‘Zimbardo Prison Experiment’ Milgram’s study did not break any ethical guideline rules and also has enabled psychology to work on his theories of obedience even more so.
So this week I decided to do quite a simple blog, but on a topic that I’ve always struggled to get into my brain. Every experiment and every piece of research talks about variables in varying terminology yet is always something that confuses me each time I read about them. Obviously I understand the dependent and the independent variable. However, when reading through my Andy Field book (having a particularly nerdy moment, it has to be said that these are rare) I’ve come across different types of variables that I’ve never really heard of before.
A binary variable- there are only two categories, for example; yes or no.
It has to be said, that the following I have actually heard of, but I always get confused between which ones should be applied to which research. I’ve included these in my blog in the hope that others like me, who may get slightly more confused than the average population will be able to gain a greater understanding.
A nominal variable- there are more than two categories
Ordinal variable- these are the same as a nominal variable but they have a logical order
Interval variable- equal intervals on the variable represent equal differences in the property being measured
Ratio variable- the same as an interval variable, but the ratios of score on the scale must also make sense.
Variables can also be split into continuous and categorical; binary, nominal and ordinal are all categorical whereas interval and ratio are continuous.
Continuous means that the entities get a distinct score and categorical means that the entities are divided into distinct categories.
So, hopefully after reading this you’ll have gained more of an insight into the wonderful topic of variables.. or just revised something you may have already known. For those of you who may want to read more about variables then its all in Andy Fields ‘Discovering Statistics Using SPSS’ book, or have a look at this website http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/variable.php which explains things quite well too 🙂