Social Science Research

It was very interesting to learn about the two experiments done, one by Stanley Milgram at Yale University in 1961, and the second one done by Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. I have previously learned about the Milgram experiment in a psychology class so it’s interesting to look at the two experiments in a sociological way instead of a psychological way.

To start with, the Milgram experiment has definitely raised some questions about obedience to authority and whether or not his experiment was done ethically or not. I would say that his experiment was unethical. Although some parts of his experiment were ethical, such as making it clear and understood to the teachers and the participants that electroshock would be involved in this experiment and it would relate to pain, other parts of his experiment were unethical. The fact that the shocks that continued and wasn’t stopped when it was causing some intense pain and harm to the participants, no one stopped the teachers. Looking back at our sociology, it talks about the code of ethics on page 49 and it states, “ During a study, sociologists must ensure the safety of participants and immediately stop work if a subject becomes potentially endangered on any level (Openstax, 2016, p. 49). Milgram did not stop the work or the experiment immediately if a subject was in any sort of danger from the shocks. This part of his obedience experiment would be unethical according to the code of conduct.

Next, another fascinating experiment done was led by Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University. This experiment was very interesting but however very unethical. Although this experiment lasted all of six days, the brutality that went on during those six days got out of hand and Zimbardo looked at the response from the prison guards as exciting and very educational but didn’t focus on how poorly the inmates were being treated and even how badly they were being humiliated. I personally believe that the guards using the fire extinguishers on these people should have been the first time something was stopped or changed because this was the beginning of the humiliation and brutality that went on. The inmates were in danger and dehumanized and Zimbardo almost encouraged it unconsciously towards the prisoner guards because he never put a stop to any of the behavior or told them that they couldn’t that. Although, the experiment was interesting to learn about from a psychological view point, it wasn’t an ethical experiment.

I personally do not believe that the findings were worth what the participants have been through, especially in Zimbardo’s experiment because it caused an emotional break down from the inmates and that almost had to be a very traumatic experience to them to be physically locked up in those conditions. As for the Milgram experiment, I also don’t think it was worth it because it could have created a classical conditioning effect towards the participants which also isn’t fair on their lives. These two experiments probably caused some sort of life change in some shape or form because of the psychological effects the experiments had on the participants/inmates.

If I was a sociologist I would really be interested in studying social media and the effects that it has on a society, especially on women and how social media presents young women. I would love to do research on this type of topic because different countries and cultures perceive women so differently compared to other cultures and I’d love to see how social media influences these personas of young women. I think this topic is something we are faced with daily on social media and we just don’t realize it because we’ve become so exposed to it we don’t recognize if there are any problems or relations with other cultures and societies. I’d also like to think that maybe if there is a negative connotation, societies could become much more familiar with the data and then begin a change so that way men and women are treated more equally.

Overall, I really enjoyed this chapter because of the experiments and becoming more familiar with the process of being a sociologist overall. It’s interesting to be a psychology major and recognize some similarities in the research methods between psychologists and sociologists and how they can work together to build up more cases and experiments.