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Ethics in Research Paper

Ethics in Research Paper

Ethics in Research Paper

Any research project is credibility depends on its alignment with the provisions of medical ethics that guide research works. Contravention of these ethical norms surmounts unethical study that is not utilizable as a scientific reference. Several historical pieces of research have been argued to be medically unethical due to their contravention of medical ethics provisions. This paper discusses two historic unethical research projects and how they violated the provisions of medical ethics.

The Little Albert experiment by John Watson was a research project conducted in 1920 to determine the applicability of Ivan Pavlov’s classical conditioning on human subjects. The experiment was done on a little boy named Albert. The test subject was classically conditioned to experience fear upon exposure to a rat he did not initially fear. This conditioning was done by pairing the neutral stimuli of rat exposure to loud noises. Albert developed fear towards the rat stimuli after this conditioning. His fear was even generalized to other stimuli, such as a Father Christmas face mask, cotton wool, and a fur coat. Upon establishing the results, Watson began the extinction process on the child. However, the process was halted prematurely when the child’s mother withdrew from the experiment (Powell & Schmaltz, 2021). However, the experiment proved that classical conditioning could induce phobias in a neutral child.

The Milligram shock experiment was a research project conducted in 1974 to determine the conflict between obedience and personal conscience. The test drew participants via a newspaper advertisement and assigned them either a teacher or a learner role via a draw that fixated Milligram’s confederates as learners and other participants as learners. During the experiment, the subjects who assumed the learner roles were taken into a room, strapped onto chairs, and given word pairs to learn by those who assumed the teacher roles. The learners were then asked to recall the words pairs read to them earlier. In this experiment, the teachers were told to administer electric shocks to the learners whenever they made a mistake, increasing the voltage whenever the mistake was made. The teachers were coerced to continue administering the shock regardless of the learners’ reactions. (Semechkin, 2020). Milligram concluded that situations significantly influenced individual behaviors.

Both experiments targeted exploiting various aspects of human behavior and how environmental influence affects these behaviors. The Little Albert experiment focused on fear, while Milligram’s experiment focused on obedience. In both scenarios, human test subjects were subjected to an environmental stimulus that influenced these behaviors. Both experiments utilized humans as test subjects, and they are bound by the ethical provisions governing human research. However, the Little Albert experiment differed from Milligram’s because it involved classical conditioning. Neutral stimuli in this test were transformed into phobias that significantly distressed the child.

The American Counselling Association prescribes specific ethical codes that govern research processes. The Little Albert experiment contravened the ethical standards of human subject protection and objectivity. In addition, the experiment only involved one subject. Therefore, the findings of this research are insufficient to conclude classical conditioning in humans (Ponterotto & Reynolds (Taewon Choi), 2017). Furthermore, the experiment was not complete since the deconditioning process stopped when the child was withdrawn from the experiment. The test did not show any regard for human subject protection. Watson proceeded with the test despite knowing the child’s health condition. The experiment produced intense discomfort for the child. The investigator, however, failed to appreciate this. Watson’s experiment was not objective. It only drew one participant with brain damage and did not document the data collection process. The findings from this experiment are also individualized and cannot be generalized to other subjects and specific groups within the general population.

Milligram’s experiment contravened human subject protection, integrity, and honesty. This research revealed that the principal investigator fixated on his confederates to assume the learner role (Griggs et al., 2020). This surmounts the misrepresentation of data and the insincerity in the experiment. These acts contravene the ethical provisions of honesty and integrity that require all research processes to maintain honesty and integrity by honestly reporting the data, test procedures and results, accurate data representation, sincerity, and consistency.

Milgram’s experiment was also not in concert with the provision of human subject protection. Findings from this research reveal elements of coercion on teachers who refused to administer the shock. The investigator in this experiment required them to continue administering the shock despite their discomfort with the procedure and even told them that they did not have a choice. The experiment also subjected individuals to intense, stressful situations with the potential to cause psychological harm. The participants in this experiment were also denied the right to withdraw from the test. Instead, the experiment gave the participants verbal prods that were targeted at ensuring that they continued with the experiment. These actions violate human subject protection as they do not accord the test subjects respect and do not respect their emotions.

The experiment was also insincere and misrepresented data. Research findings from this experiment revealed that Milligram’s confederates were used in the experiment rather than actual subjects (Griggs et al., 2020). This surmounts acts of deception and may also lead to misrepresentation of data. The experiment by Milligram is therefore considered unethical due to its contravention of the ethical provisions guiding research.

The Little Albert experiment and Milligram’s experiment are examples of historical research projects that violated provisions of ethical codes guiding research processes. These experiments contravened various aspects of ethical considerations in research. The Little Albert experiment showed the applicability of Ivan Pavlov’s classical conditioning in humans. On the other hand, Milligram’s experiment was targeted at showing the conflict between human conscience and obedience.


Griggs, R., Blyler, J., & Jackson, S. (2020). Using research ethics as a springboard for teaching Milgram’s obedience study as a contentious classic. Scholarship Of Teaching And Learning In Psychology6(4), 350-356.

Ponterotto, J., & Reynolds (Taewon Choi), J. (2017). Ethical and legal considerations in psychobiography. American Psychologist72(5), 446-458.

Powell, R., & Schmaltz, R. (2021). Did Little Albert acquire a conditioned fear of furry animals? What the film evidence tells us. History Of Psychology24(2), 164-181.

Semechkin, N. (2020). Milgram’s Experiment: Is it Worth to Multiply the Entities? Notes about the Article V.N. Pavlenko “S. Milgram’s Experiment through the Lens of Historical Psychology” (Social Psychology and Society, 2019. Vol. 10, no. 3, рр. 5—18). Social Psychology And Society11(3), 211-217.


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Locate two different historical research experiments from the field of psychology or behavioral health that were considered unethical.

Ethics in Research Paper

Ethics in Research Paper

Here are some examples of unethical experiments conducted in the past. You may choose from this list or find others on your own:

Stanford Prison Experiment
Landis’s Facial Expression Experiment
Little Albert Experiment by John Watson
Milgram Study of 1974
Robbers Cave Experiment

Summarize the two unethical experiments you read about. Compare the two experiments, and provide the specific ACA or APA Code of Ethics statements that were not followed for each experiment.

Include at least three scholarly references in addition to the textbook to support your paper.
Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA 7

The essay expertly describes two historical research experiments from the field of psychology or behavioral health that were considered unethical, and the description is comprehensive and insightful, with relevant evidence to support claims. The essay demonstrates an exceptional understanding of the topic.

The essay expertly compares the two experiments and explains the specific ACA or APA Code of Ethics Statements that were not followed, and the description is comprehensive and insightful, with relevant evidence to support claims. The essay demonstrates an exceptional understanding of the topic.

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