Complicated Experiments

As far as the Milgram Experiment goes, it’s truly difficult to say. On the surface, the experiment looks to be unethical. However, because of what Milgram was actually doing in the experiment, it may not be as unethical as you might think. For the teacher, or subject of the experiment, the whole thing might appear to be unethical. From the subject’s point of view, the experimenter was allowing the learner to be harmed in various degrees. In addition, the subject might think that even though the learner was being harmed, the experimenter was forcing the continuation of the experiment. This, according to the code of ethics, would have deemed the experiment unethical. However, because of the fact that Milgram was not actually allowing the learner to be harmed, as well as not truly forcing either the teacher or the learner to continue with the experiment, I do not believe that the experiment was unethical. Perhaps it was a little on the edge, but I do think it was ethical.

The Zimbardo Experiment is one that truly fascinates me. Although I found the whole concept and execution of the experiment extremely interesting I do think it was unethical. This was an experiment that caused some of the participants to succumb to physical and psychological harm. The inmates of the mock prison were repeatedly abused verbally, and because of some of the actions carried out by the guards of the experiment, the inmates were put at risk for physical harm. For example, some of the conditions set by the guards caused an inmate to act crazy and was released from the experiment. This shows the psychological harm. Another example would be how the guards took away the mattresses of the inmates forcing them to sleep on the concrete, or how the sanitation conditions worsened due to the guards’ mistreatment of the inmates. These actions could potentially cause physical harm to the inmates. These are clear examples of why this experiment was unethical from the start.

I do believe that both experiments yielded some amazing results, and the information gathered from both led to a better understanding of social psychology. However, I feel like only one of these experiments was truly worth the risk or damage to the participants. That experiment, would be the Milgram experiment. This experiment, would have caused minimal damage to its subjects. Whereas the other experiment, the Zimbardo experiment, caused damage to multiple participants in both the physical and psychological aspects.

If I were a professional sociologist, I would most definitely be interested in researching. I like the idea of testing people and examining the results. I find the idea of putting people through a social test, one that could challenge not only themselves individually but the group as a whole, really compelling. I feel like in some cases we could simulate situations that would present surprising results. It is in those results that I and many others would find the thrill of experimenting and researching.