Psychological research, obedience and ethics
Psychological research, obedience and ethics

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Psychological research, obedience and ethics

Study 3

The ethics panel were still not convinced and did not give approval to Study 2 either. Undeterred, the researcher revised the design of the study and resubmitted it yet again.

Study 3

Figure 7

The new study will involve recruiting participants through a poster placed on a college noticeboard, which will ask for volunteers to take part in a study on ‘social pressures and voting behaviour’. Volunteers will be provided with an accurate summary of the proposed study which will also explain that they have the right to withdraw at any point, and should feel free to do so. After having read the summary they will be asked to sign a consent form. The study will involve providing participants with transcripts of fictitious election speeches from three candidates for Student Union President of a fictitious college. The participants will read the speeches and indicate on a form whom they would vote for. Following this, they will be told that an overwhelming number of students are voting for one of the other candidates and again asked to indicate on a form whom they would vote for.

Think about the three ethics principles and how you might expect a psychological study to meet each one, and then decide whether you think this study meets each ethics principle.

Ethics principle 1 - Study 3

Wellbeing, health, values and dignity

a. 

Yes


b. 

No


The correct answer is a.

a. 

Participants in this study are not being asked to reveal how they voted in a real election and are also not having to reveal any shift in their voting behaviour to a group. This study is therefore very unlikely to have any negative effect on the participants' psychological wellbeing, health, values or dignity.


Ethics principle 2 - Study 3

Informed consent

a. 

Yes


b. 

No


The correct answer is a.

a. 

The study now tells potential participants what is involved before asking for their consent. It is possible that telling the participants what the study is exploring will affect how they respond and is therefore unlikely to provide any useful results. However, judging the ethics of research is a different matter from judging whether the design of the study will produce useful results.


Ethics principle 3 - Study 3

Right to withdraw

a. 

Yes


b. 

No


The correct answer is a.

a. 

Participants in this study would be aware that they were taking part in research, and were also told explicitly that they could withdraw from the study at any point.


Question 4

Would you give this study ethical approval?

a. 

Yes


b. 

No


The correct answer is a.

a. 

As the study met all of the criteria, it should be approved.


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