Assignment: PSY-5107 Week 2: Audit an Infamous Study in Psychology

Assignment: PSY-5107 Week 2: Audit an Infamous Study in Psychology

Assignment: PSY-5107 Week 2: Audit an Infamous Study in Psychology

For your assignment this week, you will examine one of the more infamous studies in psychology where ethical issues were grossly overlooked by preparing a narrated presentation using PowerPoint presentation software. You may use one of the studies discussed in this week

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s lesson or choose another. You will create your audio presentation by clicking on the

button, and then selecting the

 option to record audio to accompany/narrate the slides you created within PowerPoint.


First, provide a brief overview of the study that you selected, discuss the results/findings, and then provide additional details regarding the ethical concerns or violations and why they are of concern. Outline what the researcher must do to revise this study to conform to today’s ethical codes and standards. Frame your response as if you are an IRB reviewer, and you are communicating the specific steps that the researcher must take to revise their study to gain approval from the NCU IRB. Be sure to describe the particular APA ethical standards and principles that are in violation within your response, and why your recommended revisions are needed before official IRB approvals can be given.

Length: 5 to 7-minute audio accompanied by 6-8 PowerPoint slides, not including reference and title slides

References: Include a minimum of 3 scholarly resources.

The completed assignment should address all of the assignment requirements, exhibit evidence of concept knowledge, and demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the content presented in the course. The writing should integrate scholarly resources, reflect academic expectations and current APA standards, and adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

When applicable, conduct a Turnitin pre-check and then upload your completed assignment and click the Submit to Dropbox button.

Ethics in Research

Historically, psychology, and other fields of study, have not always been very ethical in terms of the research studies that were performed, and how participants were treated. Some infamous examples where extreme harm came to the participants can be reviewed below:

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As a result of these gross oversights regarding participants’ ethical protection, psychology as a field went through a lot of changes. Changes included the development of The Belmont Report, the adoption of the APA Ethical Codes and Standards, and the development of numerous Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) in colleges and universities throughout the world.

Today, when psychologists conduct research, they must be sure they have avoided the possibility of any psychological or physical harm to the participant. This exemplifies Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence from the APA Ethical Codes and Standards (APA, 2016). Be sure to read and review these five principles and 10 standards within the APA Ethical Codes and Standards (link provided in the resources), and take the time to become familiar with these, as you will be asked to uphold these principles and standards in any research that you are a part of!

To ensure research participants’ rights have been protected, there are usually steps to take, similar to the system of checks and balances in government. One of these checks is an entity called the Institutional Review Board (IRB). This board is responsible for reviewing and approving scholarly research within an institution or organization like NCU. You will be happy to learn that there is an active and vibrant IRB here at NCU. This review board consists of faculty and professionals, both within and outside of NCU. They have expertise in research design and are fully aware of relevant ethical issues that could be a concern when conducting a research study. Here at NCU, the IRB holds monthly webinars and offers individual consultations by appointment to students who are thinking about conducting scholarly research. If you are looking to do some research in the near future, it is highly recommended that you check out their website!


You are encouraged to explore the IRB’s website and consider attending a webinar, or making an appointment to talk to a board member and learn more about the IRB and what it does, and the types of issues that are important to be aware of when designing a research study.

So what might an IRB reviewer be looking for when reviewing a research study? There are common issues or ethical concerns that frequently arise when IRB members review research: privacy and confidentiality; informed consent; the right to withdraw; deception; and debriefing. Basically, an IRB member focuses on reviewing materials based on the three principles of The Belmont Report; namely, that of respect for persons, beneficence or ‘do no harm’, and justice, or making sure that subjects are selected into the study sample, and benefit equally, regardless of race, gender, etc. (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, n.d.). You will now briefly examine each of these to have a clearer understanding of what IRB reviewers are looking for when they decide whether or not to approve a study.

One of the more commonly encountered ethical concerns that psychological researchers experience with respect for persons includes the issue of privacy and confidentiality (Gravetter & Foranzo, 2018). Taking steps to ensure that participant data is collected and stored confidentiality is an important issue to consider. This often includes making the data anonymous or removing personal identifiers from the dataset, and storing data in a password-protected file or locked cabinet. Informed consent is another commonly encountered concern for IRB reviewers, which gets at the principle of respect for persons. With informed consent, participants must be fully aware of any risks or benefits that accompany their participation in the study. Two types of informed consent are commonly encountered: fully informed and limited informed consent.

In a fully informed consent, participants must have a clear understanding of what will happen from start to finish if they consent to participate in the research (Gravetter & Foranzo, 2018). In a limited informed consent, some key ideas or parts of the hypothesis might be intentionally omitted in order to obtain more objective findings and results. Otherwise, you might encounter expectancy effect or experimenter bias, where participants behave in a way that conforms to the expectations of the researcher. The right to withdraw is another concern that must be clearly discussed, typically during the informed consent process. This issue can fit within the principles of both respect for persons and beneficence. It involves making sure that a participant is fully aware from the start of the study that they can end their participation at any time, without penalty or negative consequences. This was an issue in the Milgram studies that you read about. Additionally, any benefits of participation in the study should be given to participants, regardless of whether or not they complete the study, and remain in it to the end (e.g., extra credit, monetary incentives).

Another less commonly encountered yet relevant concern is that of deception in research. Deception in research also revolves around the principles of respect for persons, and this can be an issue when participants are intentionally being misled about the true purpose of the study. In other words, the researcher is lying to the participants in some way about what the study will involve during the informed consent process. This is less commonly encountered because deception is only allowed when there is really no other way to study the psychological phenomenon of interest. Refer to the APA ethical codes and standards for more as to when deception is allowed in psychological research (APA, 2016).

Finally, there should always be a debriefing process that occurs after the research study is completed to ensure that the principles of respect for persons and beneficence are met (Gravetter & Foranzo, 2018). During this debriefing, the subject is informed about the study, why it was done, and any possible physical or psychological harm should be completely undone during this final phase.

The principle of justice is more about the sampling process, making sure that all different ages, genders, ethnicities, etc. are equally represented in the sample (Gravetter & Foranzo, 2018). This is important to do to ensure that the results can be applied to a wide variety of individuals. In this fashion, any benefits that result from the research are not limited to one group. Historically, psychological research has been conducted on college campuses for many years, so there has been an overrepresentation of Caucasian males ages 18-21. However, in recent years, due to the principle of justice and researchers’ efforts to uphold the standards from The Belmont Report, great strides have been made to ensure women and other minority groups are included in research so everyone can benefit from scientific research.

In addition, there are certain populations that are carefully protected when participants are being selected, namely, prisoners, children, individuals with limited cognitive capabilities, and pregnant women (Gravetter & Foranzo, 2018). These include individuals who are in some way limited intellectually, or unable to fully comprehend what they may agree to, or who might experience feelings of coercion to participate due to the benefits that accompany participation – as in the case of prisoners. Finally, pregnant women are infrequently used as research subjects due to the likelihood of unintentional harm to their unborn child.

Please read and review the resources and materials for this week, and become more familiar with the rules and regulations for ethical research in psychology. This is an important part of your learning as you continue with your studies, so take good notes and reach out with any questions you may have!


American Psychological Association. (2016). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Author.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). The Tuskegee timeline. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Gravetter, F. J., & Forzano, L. B. (2018). Research methods for the behavioral sciences (6th ed.). Cengage Learning.

McLeod, S. (2017). The Milgram shock experiment. Simply Psychology.

Northcentral University. (n.d.). Institutional research review board. Author.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). The Belmont Report. Author.

Zimbardo, P. G. (1971). Stanford prison experiment. Social Psychology Network.
Weekly Resources and Assignments

Review the resources from the Course Resources link, located in the top navigation bar, to prepare for this week’s assignments. The resources may include textbook reading assignments, journal articles, websites, links to tools or software, videos, handouts, rubrics, etc.

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