Stanford prison experiment | Social Science homework help

Please choose  the Stanford Prison Experiment o and within 2-3 pages, please type up an analysis of whether the experiment did or did not follow the three ethical principles of the Belmont Report:

Respect for persons: Individuals should be treated as autonomous.

Beneficence: Individuals should be protected from harm and should have their well

-being maintained.

Justice: There should be a “fairness of distribution” among subjects and potential subjects of the 

burdens and benefits of research


Stanford prison experiment
●Dr. Zimbardo had to stop the experiment early.
○Subjects actually became too caught up in their roles.
■Guards became aggressive and verbally abusive.
■Some guards exhibited fits of rage.
■Prisoners became passive.
■Some wept uncontrollably.
○The danger to the subjects was not just psychological, but physical as well.
○Video (no captions available):
○Video Transcript:
Unintended consequences of research

●There is research that may seem innocent, but can be potentially damaging to a 

subject’s sense of self-esteem and self-worth.

○Self-esteem and anxiety

■Exposing aspects of someone that they would rather have concealed.

■Encouraging reflection on past events that the subject has tried to forget.

■Revealing the subject’s ignorance

Unintended consequences of research

●Surveys are powerful, but caution must be exercised.

○Researchers must consider the potential psychological harm that a survey or question could inflict.


●Questions exposing a subject’s prejudice toward some particular group could lead to a 

loss of a subject’s self-image.

●A series of questions about current events could be stressful to someone who is ignorant of such events.

●Asking questions about painful past experiences, like failed relationships, child abuse, 

etc, can also produce anxiety for the subject

Good research practices

■Respondents should always feel free to decline to participate.

■Even if they have already agreed to participate, they should feel free to refuse any question they find objectionable.

■It is the job of the researcher to inform respondents of this freedom
●Inequalities are often difficult to avoid completely, so researchers have to be keen to minimize them as much as possible.

○Unequal benefits or burdens

■Experiments: there is often the experimental group (who gets something extra) and the control group (who gets nothing special—like a placebo).

○Minimizing inequality

■Objective: make the inequalities as minimal and as random as possible.

Deception in research

●Social Scientists often conduct covert research.

○The trick is to balance the need for deception with the rights of the subjects.

○Observing individuals or elected officials in a public place or a public forum.

○Keeping the true intentions of one’s research hidden from the respondents, or only telling them part of the reasons for conducting the research.

●Some scholars argue that all deception in research is unethical.

○Others claim that some level of deception may be necessary
Scientific safeguards

●There are several safeguards in place that can help to ensure the safety of subjects.

○Institutional Review Boards (IRB)

○Informed Consent


○Anonymity and Confidentiality

●Institutional Review Boards (IRB):

○Mandated by all institutions that receive federal funding for research.  All research regarding human subjects must be submitted for review by the IRB.

○If you are tinkering with people, their minds, feelings, attitudes, etc, then you need to get the IRB to 

okay your project

●Informed Consent

○Informs the subjects (prior to their consent to participate) of the purpose of the study, the type of 

information being requested, who is conducting the study, and the risks involved.

○Generally this is a form spelling out the purpose of the research, risks, etc, and states an agreement 

by the subject to participate in the research

○Mitigates the problem of deception by explaining to the subjects after the experiment is over about 

the nature of the experiment.

○Basically, this is where you as the researcher come clean about any deception that you use


○The researcher cannot link the information provided with the person who provides it.  Researchers have no way of knowing who participated.


○Information exists to link the results with a particular respondent.  The researcher promises to hold 

this information in confidence.

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