Stanley Milgram's experiment with obedience and Philip Zimbardo's prison stimulation. How they fit in early approaches of modern psychology, were they ethical and would they have been conducted today?

Essay by lolliegagindeUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, September 2004

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After reading about Stanley Milgram's experiment with obedience and Philip Zimbardo's prison stimulation, I was amazed at how far the psychologist took these experiments. The studies fit early approaches by many definitions. Both of these approaches focused on the behavioral aspect or behavioral perspective, which "focuses on observable behaviors; thus it does not speculate about mental processes such as thinking." Davis & Palladino (Page 26 Para. 2) They observed and noted on the actions taken by the volunteers, not the emotional or mental state. American psychologist, John B. Watson, the individual responsible for introducing behaviorism, insisted that behavior is a physiological reaction to environmental stimuli. He rejected the exploration of mental processes as unscientific. In Zimbardo's simulation, the emotions of the prisoners were not taken into account unless there was a problem, as with # 8612. His emotional state was not approached or discussed until it was obvious he was having difficulties, where he was then removed from the experiment.

I feel that neither of the studies would be conducted today because of the distress and trauma put on the volunteers in each of the experiments. I feel both of the studies could be considered as unethical and immoral. Although the individuals participating volunteered, the impact the experiment had could not have been clearly explained before the simulations were conducted. The individuals conducting the experiment violated the principles of right and wrong. For example, Zimbardo used volunteers for the prisoners and guards. They set no rules for the guards, but strict rules for the prisoners. It was basically clear they had all the power to do what they please, which welcomed vicious and unjust behavior against the prisoners. They treated the individuals as animals, restricting the use of lavatory privileges and food intake.

Experiments conducted today are considered natural...