Child Development 133 
Research Methods in Human Development

Sections 04, 68, & 69
Hembree           Spring, 2011


Research Ethics


Note: Read Perils of Obedience and Zimbardo Prison Experiment before class. Bring your textbook.

I. Guiding Questions/Discussion

1) In your group and using Ch. 14 of your text, review the following ethical principles and what they mean for the researcher:


  • Informed consent


  • Deception (when can/should you use deception? Are there times when deception research may be useful?)



  • Invasion of privacy/Confidentiality



  • Coercion to participate



  • Physical and mental harm



  • Courtesy



  • Scientific misconduct



  •  Guidelines for animals



2)  Consider the prison study conducted by Zimbardo et al. (1975) (description/video):

Students were assigned the role of either guard or prisoner for a week.  Before the experiment could be completed, it was stopped, because the guards were beginning to treat the prisoners in a cruel manner and the prisoners began to obey the guards in what may be considered a demeaning manner.  Before the experiment began, it is unlikely that any of the students could have predicted they would act as they did. 

Discuss the ethics of conducting research and what safeguards should be required.  In what ways could it be considered unethical to show someone something true but unpleasant about him or herself?  What harm could have been done by this study?



3) Consider the study conducted by Milgram (web page and video). What major ethical guidelines were violated? If you were to conduct the same experiment, what would you have to include in your consent form?





4)  What special ethical considerations are there in using children as research  participants?





5) You conduct an experiment on a child that reveals potential cognitive deficits.  What should you do about your concern?




 II. How do researchers ensure that guidelines are met?

A. Professional organizations - SRCD/APA












Send problems, comments or suggestions to:

California State University, Sacramento
College of Education
Department of Child Development

Updated: January, 2011