Chapter Activities

Experiential Exercises

(1) Assign groups and have them find the ASA’s Code of Conduct online: Next, have each group find two journal articles that include information on the treatment of human subjects in the study. Then, have students discuss whether or not the studies followed the ASA’s Code of Conduct. Did the researchers follow the guidelines? Where there procedures in the research process that could have been done differently?

(2) Have students access the Belmont Report which is discussed in this chapter ( Direct students to the three basic ethnical principles discussed in the report: (1) Respect for Persons, (2) Beneficence, and (3) Justice. Have students find an example of a study that violated each of these three ethical principles. Students should explain how the study violated the principle and what could have been done differently to make sure the principle was adhered to.

(3) Have students break up into groups (four to six students are ideal). Have each group find a published research study that used deception in its research design. Ideally each group will have a different study. Have students write up a summary of how deception was used, what protections if any were used in the study design, and have them discuss the merit of using deception. Could the study have been done without using deception? Does the group think it was worth it to use deception based on what was found? Have students share their results in class and compare the studies that students present on.

(4) The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) offers an extensive online training course in the basics of human subjects protections issues. Go to the public access CITI site at and complete the course in social and behavioral research. Print your completion certificate and write a short summary (1 page) summarizing the most important things you learned in conducting your own research.

Individual and Group Activities

1. Tuskegee Syphilis Study Report

Provide students with the following instructions:

In this project, you’ll get to learn a little more about the incredibly influential, and highly unethical, study that began in the 1930s. The textbook mentions this study briefly, but you may find it interesting and informative to do some more research and learn more about it. In this project, you will write a 3–5 page article on the study, its ethical concerns, and today’s ethical guidelines that came about because of this experiment.

(1) Use the Internet, journal articles, encyclopedias, or any other appropriate resources to find out about the Tuskegee Study.

(2) For the first part of the paper, write a brief summary of the study. When and where did it take place? Who were the participants? Who were the researchers? Be sure to include information on how the process was carried out throughout the 40+ year duration of the study.

(3) For the next part, discuss the process of deception that was used throughout the course of the study. How were so many participants deceived for so long? Also, was there a process of debriefing that took place? Is there any way this could have been done differently?

(4) Next, discuss how the researchers justified conducting the study. How did they justify beginning the experiment and continuing the deception? How did they respond to criticism that was raised afterward?

(5) Finally, what changes were implemented regarding the treatment of human subjects as a direct result of this study? Could an experiment like this be conducted today? Do you think the results of this study outweighed the obvious risks to participants?

2. Provide students with the following instructions:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains extensive resources concerning the protection of human subjects in research. Read several documents that you find on its website,, and write a short report (2–3 pages) about them. Make sure to cite the documents that you review.