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Paper Topic:

Describe one or more examples of ethically questionable research from the history of psychology, and explain why that research should have been either permitted or prohibited.





Little Albert and Bobo : Ethically Questionable Psychological Research

In the world of psychology , controlled experimentation plays a crucial role in helping us to better understand human behavior . Laboratory experiments allow researchers to control environments and stimuli making it easier to observe and measure the behavior being studied However , with this increased control comes a great amount of responsibility on the part of the researcher to adhere to ethical standards to protect their subjects . Researchers today use agreed upon guidelines to understand when research is

acceptable (British Psychological Society 2000 ,

.8 )Two flagship studies in the world of psychology , Watson 's Little Albert and Bandura 's Bobo Doll , are excellent examples of experiments that may have gone too far in their search for data

Albert Bandura 's 1961 Bobo doll experiment was designed to study the affects of observational learning on displays of violence in children Bandura developed a study in which a series of male and female children were exposed to varied levels of violence (ranging from aggressive to non-aggressive to ) carried out by adults against a human-like doll Bandura theorized that children who were exposed to violent behavior would be more likely to display violent behavior themselves than those who witnessed non-aggressive behavior , and far more likely than those who witnessed no model . He also supposed the children would be more likely to exhibit violent behavior after watching a model of the same sex , and that males would be more likely to display violence than females

After children individually viewed one of the adult models , he or she was then led into two additional rooms . In the first , the child was presented with several toys , but only allowed to play with them for a short period of time . In the second room , the child was left alone with an assortment of aggressive and non-aggressive toys and allowed to play

Unsurprisingly , Bandura 's hunches proved correct . Children - especially males - who viewed violent role models , were far more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior than those who did not . Males did , in fact , display violent behavior more frequently after having viewed a violent male model . Many credit Bandura with articulating one of the best social learning theories in history (Moeller 2001 ,


The Bandura experiment has since been critcised for being unethical When held up against modern ethical guidelines such as those of the British Psychological Society , the experiment does indeed fall short First , Bandura did not take care to avoid physical and emotional harm to his young subjects . Watching and learning violent behavior from adults may have caused fear or distress to the young people , and may have left lasting impressions . Instilling patterns of violent behavior in young children is harmful and dangerous Bandura himself describes human aggression as a serious social problem (Bandura 1973 ,

. 1 ) The children also were teased with toys in to prime them into aggressive moods . In addition , the children were far too young to understand the deceptive...

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