Child Development 133 (03, 04,
72, 73 & 74)
Research Methods in Human Development

Hembree            Spring, 2013


Homework #8 - Ethics Questions/Discussion

8 pts

Note: Read Perils of Obedience and Zimbardo Prison Experiment before class. Complete PART I before class and PART II during class.

I. Complete the following Guiding Questions (from chapter 15 of your text) before class.

1) What are the potential benefits of behavioral research? How does consideration of these benefits enter into the decision of whether a proposed study is ethical?




2) Define these ethical principles and what they mean for the researcher. 

  • Informed consent (and what is included in a consent form?)


  • 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 stress/risk



  • Courtesy



  • debriefing



  • vulnerable populations



  • scientific misconduct


 3) What is an institutional review board (IRB) and how is it used to ensure that ethical principles are followed?




II. In class Discussion - Write notes from your in-class discussion. for each of the following questions.

1)  Consider the prison study conducted by Zimbardo et al. (1975)

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?





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






3)  You want to conduct an experiment on children's cheating that requires you to engage in deception with 5-year-olds. What sorts of special considerations are there with deception with young children?







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










Send problems, comments or suggestions to:

California State University, Sacramento

College of Education

Department of Child Development

Updated: January 25, 2013

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