• Question: Are there any experiments you found morally unacceptable that are technically ethical?

    Asked by even494ewe on 22 Nov 2023.
    • Photo: Berengere Digard

      Berengere Digard answered on 22 Nov 2023:


      There are a lot of research in social psychology around deception (making people believe false things) and manipulation, and even though with the correct safeguarding these are ethical, it always makes me a bit uncomfortable.

    • Photo: Elizabeth Newton

      Elizabeth Newton answered on 23 Nov 2023:


      There are some studies which use deception but this is why it is really important that research is approved by ethics panels. Some research from the past, such as Milgram’s obedience study, would be unlikely to get ethical approval now as a scientific study. Interestingly some of the manipulations done on reality TV shows would not get ethical approval for a scientific study!

    • Photo: Ed Morrison

      Ed Morrison answered on 23 Nov 2023:


      Probably the main class of experiments people might feel this way about is animal experimentation, where animals are given drugs or have their brains lesioned or are killed etc. These are highly scrutinised ethically, and there is much less than there used to be, but some don’t like the idea of animal experiments at all (not me personally though).

    • Photo: David McGonigle

      David McGonigle answered on 23 Nov 2023:


      From a personal perspective or do you mean general experiments in the field of psychology? Post a follow up and I’ll get you an answer.

    • Photo: Emma Sullivan

      Emma Sullivan answered on 11 Dec 2023:


      I think some of the older studies e.g. Zimbarbo, Milgram, etc used to be highly unethical. Now there are much more rigorous ethical guidelines so ensure most studies are now ethically sound.

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