Discuss the Ethical Issues of Milgrams Study

Discuss the ethical issues of Milgrams study

Milgrams study raises many ethical issues, so many in fact that his membership to the APA was suspended in 1964. Ten years later, in 1974, Milgram published ‘Obedience to Authority’ and was awarded the annual social psychology award by the AAAS.
Participants were not told the true nature of the experiment this made them unable to make a real decision about whether they wanted to take part or not. Although this is true on the other hand the experiment would not have been possible had the participants known they weren’t actually shocking the ‘learner’. Nevertheless over 70% of the 80% of participants interviewed afterwards said they were pleased to have taken part and have learned something from the experience.
Deception played a large part in this experiment as Milgram didn’t tell the participants exactly what was going to happen therefore deceiving them. Like before if milgram had told the participants that the other people were all actors and that the machine wasn’t actually giving electric shocks then the participants behaviour wouldn’t have been the same and not worth recording.
Milgram told participants that they would still be paid if they withdrew from the experiment, however the authoritive figure in the experiment carried out continuous encouragement to make it hard for the participant to withdraw even if they wanted to. The results reflect this as very few participants withdrew at early stages.
Milgrams study is likely to have caused psychological harm to its participants. This would include high levels of stress and distress with potential long term damage and also damage to the participants self esteem because the majority clearly believed they were giving electric shocks and causing pain in another person. However Milgram couldn’t have predicted the levels of stress experienced by the participants.