Social Influence Research - Do the Ends Justify the Means? Essay

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Social Influence Research - Do the Ends Justify the Means?

To what extent does the importance of social influence research, justify the methods used in its investigation?

The debate about ethics in psychology focuses on two areas: protection of participants and benefiting society. This is a double obligation dilemma as if some psychologists are not allowed to do certain experiments because of ethical restraints; this can cause problems with validity. In social psychology, these psychologists have an obligation to use their research skills to advance our knowledge of human behaviour, for the ultimate aim of human betterment.

Milgram’s study into obedience involved participants becoming a
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The findings of this research seem to justify the ethical guidelines broken as this experiment is a crucial insight into understanding the extent to which people obey. Also, this experiment would not have worked if it had followed all rules as the participants would have known the shocks were false and therefore the experiment would not have been so impactive. The participant would know he/she was not harming the learner in anyway and therefore be much more willing to follow orders.

Zimbardo’s prison experiment was a lab based experiment involving participants being assigned to the role of guard or prisoner and then spending 5 days (originally 14 days but the experiment was disbanded after 5) in a ‘prison’ set up in the basement of a university. Each ‘prisoner’ was arrested in their own homes and taken to the prison. In the course of the experiment it was noted that the prisoners were dehumanised, humiliated and some suffered psychosomatic rashes and even seizures. The guards became ruthless, guiltless and seemed to enjoy the dominance and power they had over the prisoners. The aim was to investigate how people conformed