Ethical Response Paper: The Stanford Prison Experiments

602 Words3 Pages
Ethics Response Paper After viewing the Stanford Prison experiment video in class and reading about the experiment in our textbook it is easy to understand the ethical issues and the conflict about them. Most important topic that relates to the experiment is the basic dilemma of social research. It is easy to think of experiments that would help explain certain aspects of social life, but not all of them would be able to be preformed because they may cause harm to one or more of the participants. This experiment for example was supposed to last for 14 days. After only half that time more than one person performing or viewing the experiment could tell that the prisoners were very unhappy so it was called off. This is what researchers have…show more content…
The participants were not fully informed about the study. In part because this was the first test of its kind so they did not know what to expect. Also after some research I found out that the idea of having them taken in by the police was not exposed to the participants. That part doesn’t have that much to do with the roles they were playing in the experiment. Another part of the experiment that took the researchers by surprise was the fact that the guards and prisoners taking on the roles. It was almost a game of who could get the best of the other. Although there was no physical harm as per the consent form, they still adapted to the roles quicker than expected. It even states in the book, “Acting authoritatively can be fun. Power can be a great pleasure.” The guards started off with name-calling which quickly turned into making the prisoners do push ups. Once the prisoners felt like there was nothing else to do except rebel, they did which made them loose their dinner and right to a bed. This turned the guards to more drastic tactics such as humiliating them in front of the others. It is hard to say what made them take on the roles so readily. Could have been the clothes or the living conditions, a change that could have been made to do the experiment better could be to use normal clothes or have the researchers play the guards. Whether you call it uninformed consent or deception I think this is the most problematic issue in the video. This type of experiment is an important one in the history of social research because it demonstrates how easily one can become wrapped up in research and forgets about the values of the participants. Although because it is sometimes difficult to address social ethical issues you must not choose to ignore
Open Document