Discussion Questions

  1. Should social scientists be permitted to conduct replications of Milgram’s obedience experiments? Zimbardo’s prison simulation? Can you justify such research as permissible within the current ASA ethical standards? If not, do you believe that these standards should be altered to permit Milgram-type research?
  2. How do you evaluate the current ASA ethical code? Is it too strict or too lenient, or just about right? Are the enforcement provisions adequate? What provisions could be strengthened?
  3. Why does unethical research occur? Is it inherent in science? Does it reflect “human nature”? What makes ethical research more or less likely?
  4. Does debriefing solve the problem of subject deception? How much must researchers reveal after the experiment is over as well as before it begins?
  5. What policy would you recommend that researchers such as Sherman and Berk (1984) follow in reporting the results of their research? Should social scientists try to correct misinformation in the popular press about their research, or should they just focus on what is published in academic journals? Should researchers speak to audiences such as police conventions to influence policies related to their research results?