Ethics is The Question

The Milgram experiment raised many red flags because of the way his experiment was conducted. The red flags have to do with ethics and whether or not he performed his experiment within those limits. Although these people volunteered to be apart of the experiment they were not fully told all aspects of the experiment. It is necessary and vital that, “researchers must obtain participants’ informed consent and inform subjects of the responsibilities and risks of research before they agree to partake” (Openstax, 2016, pg. 43). Another part to Stanley Milgram’s experiment was that the participants were deceived. The participants thought they were actually inflicting pain onto the other participant and that can lead to emotional distress. Milgram was not evil and was not trying to hurt his participants it was just way different back in the 60’s. They did not have a code of ethics and many researchers used their own judgments when formulating an experiment.

The Zimbardo Stanford Prison Experiment was not ethical for many reasons. As our book mentions, “During a study, sociologists must ensure the safety of participants and immediately stop work if a subject becomes potentially endangered on any level” (Opensatx, 2016, pg. 43). The participants agreed to the experiment but not the physical and emotional abuse that ended up happening. The guards turned power hungry and left the prisoners in a very vulnerable situation. They were humiliated, tortured, and stripped of all human rights. Zimbardo would not have been able to run this experiment nowadays but I think that we can all learn a lot from this type of experiment including the need for a code of ethics.

The findings of the Milgram and Zimbardo experiments were worth the risk/damage to the participants. Although these two experiments pushed the ethical limits to the boundaries in the end they were worth it. After the Milgram experiment all the participants were debriefed and got to see that the learner on the other side was perfectly fine. In the Zimbardo experiment he debriefed the twenty-four male college students and even followed them every ten years to check on them. Researchers learned a lot from these two experiments and was instrumental in our understanding of people’s blind obedience to any kind of authority. Although none of these experiments would happen today we can only learn from them and move on.

If I was a professional sociologist I think I would be interested in studying social media and all the affects it has on different populations and age groups. This interests me because of the huge role social media plays in our everyday life. Is it healthy how much we rely on it?