General psychology Essay
1. Study 1 – Little Albert Experiment
The Albert experiment was limited by the assumptions taken from the very start.
Watson viewed the infant as a tabula rasa to be written on by experience. Children have no inborn tendencies, their turn out depends entirely on their rearing environments and the ways in which their parents and other significant people in their lives treat them. According to a behavioral perspective, then, it is a mistake to assume that children progress through a series of distinct stages, dictated by biological maturation. Instead, development is viewed as a continuous process of behavioral change that is shaped by a person’s unique environment and may differ dramatically from person to person.
To prove just how malleable children are, Watson set out to demonstrate that infantile fears and other emotional reactions are acquired rather than inborn. Ethics-wise, were the parents of Albert informed on just exactly how the experiment would be executed.
If I were to do this experiment, I would probably not have banged a steel rod with a hammer just to instill the fear factor in the infant. Ethics-wise, the experiment had the limitation of using another subject but a baby named Albert. Another issue ethics-wise is the parents’ approval of their baby being used as a “guinea pig” for this experiment. If I were to do this, I would probably ask myself if there was another way to execute the experiment in another form or manner.
The parents’ consent to undergo those procedures is based on realistic expectations. Informed consent is given for participation in the research experiments and the safety of the individuals used for the experiment is protected. Perhaps, I will not use a loud banging sound but just a minimum amount of noise to trigger the fear. I am sure that baby Albert acquired and developed that fear until now just because he was used in the experiment. It would have been proper and more ethical if protection was maximized in that experiment in all aspects.
Study 2 – Harlow’s Monkeys
One cannot generalize that the generosity of a mother’s feeding practices simply did not predict the quality of her infant’s attachment to her. In fact, for 39% of these infants, the person who usually fed, bathed and changed them (typically the mother) was not even the child’s primary attachment object. That is one limitation. Another would be the use of terrycloth as a substitute for the touch of the mother. How could they make sweeping generalizations that humans would also act like those monkeys? Ethics-wise, the use of monkeys is to be contested here because they also deserve not to be experimented on. Another is the procedure in which these monkeys were selected for the experiment. If I were to conduct the experiment myself, I would explore other ways of demonstrating the importance of touch to humans and animals alike. Besides, there are a lot of other animals that can be used for this experiment.
The research question was simple: Would these infants become attached to the “mother” who fed them, or would they instead prefer the soft, cuddly “cloth mother”? It was no contest really. Even if their food had come from the “wire mother,” infants spent time with “her” only while feeding and ran directly to the “cloth mother” whenever they were upset or afraid. So all infants became attached to the “cloth mother,” thereby implying that contact comfort is more powerful contributor to attachment in monkeys than feeding or the reduction of hunger. There could be an overemphasis on the importance of touch and tactile sense than the feeding capacity. For human, both processes may be just as important to an infant.
Study 3 – Milgram’s Experiments
One limitation here was the fact that they had to finish the experiment. Another limitation was the lack of other facilitators to handle such a group. Ethically, even in a setup like this, the individuals should not have been coerced into obeying the instructions if they felt it contrary to their values. Professionals are governed by the standards of conduct set forth by their respective professions. Ethics in this experiment is concerned with the conduct of those who initiated it in the first place. Each person has a value system. Values also apply to personal beliefs and attitudes about life.
In the Milgram experiment, there was deception in a way, which already makes the experiment questionable. Does the end justify the means? That is the question here.
I do not believe that the end should justify the means. It is important that people learn how to do things with the end-goal of not committing any injustice in the service of a greater good. It is never acceptable to commit a wrong or unethical action just to achieve a result that supposedly benefits the majority or even just one person. No action is justified if it commits a wrong in achieving it. In the experiment, when the individuals felt that they wanted to end the experiment, they should not have been forced to continue on.
If I were to do the experiment, I would structure it in such a way that it would not coerce the participants to continue when they wanted to stop and check on the learner. Personal integrity and individual responsibility are factors in all ethical concerns and responses. Since the participants agreed to the experiments but used combined power and authority together with conformity, the behavior of the participants’ peers affected the results. Those who felt helpless learned it and were then powerless to affect the conclusion and thus, abdicate their responsibility in the process. The ethical question here was the issue on obedience.
Watson, J. B., & Rayner, R. (1920). Conditioned emotional reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3, 1-14.
Harlow, H. F. (1958). The nature of love. American Psychologist, 13, 573-685.
Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, 371-378.