Prison Experiment & ethics

There are seven critical items in the code of ethics in research that must be adhered to when using human subjects. These ethical rules clearly suggest the following: no harm must come to the participants, participation must be voluntary, anonymity and confidentiality must be protected, researchers may not deceive test subjects, the test analysis and reports must be accurate and not falsified in any way, and special issues must be taken into consideration. These special issues include misbehavior on the part of the staff, possible research causing criminal behavior, withholding treatment, and mandated reporting (Maxfield & Babbie, 2009).

For the most part, The Stanford Prison Experiment was obedient to the outlined code of ethics. CRIMINOLOGY 4 No true physical harm was ever brought against any of the prisoner subjects, and the minor inconveniences such as interrupted sleep, name calling, and physical exercises did not cause any lingering health issues. Each participant agreed to participate by signing a contract to do so at the rate of $15 per day (Zimbardo, 2008).

Neither the guards nor the prisoners revealed any true identity during the experiment. The guards were referred to as correctional officers, and the prisoners were referred to by the number assigned to their uniforms. Zimbardo and his colleagues cited the problems resulting in the ending of the experiment earlier than expected. These problems, including the absence of an independent variable, were included in the final analysis of the experiment. There were no legal liability topics before, during, or at the conclusion of the experiment. Discussion

It is clear that The Stanford Prison Experiment had good intentions, but it is a painful fact that these intentions became lost amidst the roles assigned to the participants. The participants were not made aware of the true nature by which the experiment was being conducted. Instead, the prisoners were under the assumption that the behavior of the guards was the topic being researched and vice versa (Bachman & Schutt, 2010). This partial disclosure creates the ethical concern of deception. There were obvious special ethical issues involved during the experiment.

Since the guards were in an authoritative role, their misbehavior created an unnecessary level of treatment towards the participants who were prisoners. Some prisoners needed psychiatric evaluation during the short six days, but were encouraged to remain in the experiment rather than allowing them to leave (Duke, 2003). The verbal abuse asserted against the prisoners by the guards was CRIMINOLOGY 5 inexcusable as was their profane language.

The misbehavior of the staff includes the conductors of the experiment as well. The conductors allowed the participants in the role as guards to make-up the rules as they went along. There was not a clear and definitive set of boundaries outlined for all the participants before the commencement of the experiment. Dr. Maslach noted that the human test subjects were mistreated verbally, emotionally, and physically (Duke, 2003). It has been further noted by other researchers that Dr. Zimbardo should not have allowed himself to be in the dual role of experiment conductor and prison superintendant (Bachman & Schutt, 2010).