Archive | September, 2011

Ethics in Psychological Researching

28 Sep

Hello all!

Having never previously studied Psychology or written a blog before, when I found out we were to post a weekly Psychological blog I was completely clueless as to what to write. After sitting and thinking for what seemed like hours I remembered something I watched on television a couple of years ago; an experiment called ‘The Milgram Study’. This got me thinking, and led to me wondering if Psychological experiments are always ethical. Or if it is, sometimes, alright for them to be slightly unethical, if they are going to be of great importance in the future. So here we go with blog number 1, of many.

I’m sure that most of us Psychologists would like to think and argue that in this present day and age, Psychological experiments are all ethical and performed safely, with no harm done to any thing or one. But sadly in my opinion the same thing cannot be said about previous experiments that have been carried out in the past.

I do understand that people may have the view that in order to proceed with Psychological discoveries and breakthroughs, sometimes ethics may have to take a backseat. I completely disagree with these people’s opinions! I believe that Psychological experiments are, and should be, carried out to improve every ones quality of life. Unethical experiments, although they may be improving people’s quality of life eventually, generally cause great distress to humans or animals at the time they are conducted.

One experiment, which completely shocked me, was an experiment to an 8-month-old boy, David Reimer, in 1965. After a circumcision being performed on him went wrong, a Psychologist, John Money, advised his parents that the best thing to do was to give David a sex change. The parents trusted the Psychologists advise as he persuaded them it would be easier on David to be brought up as a girl than as a boy without a penis. John Money did not mention that the reason he persuaded David’s parents to allow him to get a sex change, was for an experiment on Nature vs. Nurture. This experiment led to David’s mother becoming suicidal, his father becoming an alcoholic and David’s twin brother being depressed. David then killed himself at the age of 38. This is an example of extreme unethical experimenting, but the outcome of this Psychologists research on the Reimer family was horrific.

I understand that this is an extreme example and most people would agree that the action of John Money were unethical; but it proves that some Psychologists are prepared to put ethics to one side for the benefit of their research.

In conclusion I am going to repeat what I said earlier; I do not believe that Psychological experiments which could cause distress, pain or death to any living being are at all ethical, and I do not agree with them being performed.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post, please feel free to leave me critical comments.