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.