Blog Post #2

  • The Milgram experiment was not ethical by standards that exist today, however at the time there were no such standards. While there was no true “victim,” receiving the shocks distributed by the teacher (participant), the entire study was based on extreme deception. It is important for studies to obtain a certain amount of anonymity in order to achieve unbiased results, but in this case, the researchers were feeding off of the participant’s vulnerability. The researchers displayed “authority” figure encouraged the participants to commit acts they would not normally do if unprompted. This played highly on the emotions and morals of the participant.
  • The Zimbardo experiment, similarly to the Milgram study, did not violate ethical standards of its time. However, by today’s standards and common sense ethics that should have been noted at the time of the experiment, it was highly unethical. The basic mistreatment of human subjects that extended as far as abuse, neglect, assault, and humiliation had no place in what should have been a study conducted with respects to human and academic integrity of the institution in which the study was executed.
  • Due to the fact that the Milgram experiment did not directly physically harm an individual, I think this study was worth the insight into how people placed in authoritative positions act when under pressure from higher ranking individuals. On the other hand, the Zimbardo experiment had become so damaging and dangerous to its participants that it only lasted 6 days. Several “prisoners,” experienced emotional breaks and “guards,” saw a dark side of them that they did not believe was achievable. It was emotionally and physically taxing on everyone involved and exhibited a high cost over benefit ratio at the time. However, this showed how easily influenced human nature can become once certain statuses are achieved by an individual and acts as a cautionary tale in how to handle proper training and vigilance when placing a person in an authoritative position over a vulnerable population. For this reason, I say this study was too worth the risk to the participants. Just as in Medicine, advances cannot be made with some innate mistakes or blunders that shed light on areas of human nature we did not know existed. Sociological Science must learn from its mistakes in how research is conducted, but additionally take into account its findings in order to act preventively or mindfully about what was discovered.
  • As a hypothetical Sociologist, I would be interested in researching how the known causation between exposure to different subcultures reduces stereotypes, discrimination, and prejudicial behavior between groups, can be incorporated into schools across the country. What methods would best aid in breaking down stereotypes across socioeconomic classes, gender, race, and religion in children in order to provide a more inclusive and less prejudicial future for our youth? One method could involve creating community activities that include children from all backgrounds and measuring their attitudes towards and about each other before and after the group activity.