Unethical Research: The Stanford Prison Experiment

Competencies Addressed in This Discussion

  • Competency 1: Differentiate research methods used by criminal justice agencies.
  • Competency 3: Contrast the research methods used by criminal justice agencies and scholar-practitioners.

Introduction

Conducting research can yield very specific and valuable findings, some good and some bad. Even the bad results result in benefitting society in some way going forward, but at what cost? For example, the Stanford Prison Experiment, conducted by Stanford University is well known for its questionable and controversial research methods. This study highlights the need for informed consent and guides future researchers in how (not) to conduct a valid research study. The bottom line for any research study is that participants deserve and need to be protected from mental and physical harm. Using unethical research in the name of research is simply not acceptable under any circumstances.

After reading about the Stanford Prison Experiment in Chapter 3 of your Fundamentals of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice text and viewing the Quiet Rage: The Stanford Prison Experiment video about the Stanford Prison Experiment conducted by Stanford University, conduct Internet research to identify an ethical study conducted by a criminal justice agency (as opposed to a scholar-practitioner such as a university). Then address the following in your main post:

  • Analyze whether the research methods used in the Stanford Prison Experiment were ethical.
  • Explain whether it was ethical to trade the suffering experienced by participants for the knowledge gained by the research.
  • Illustrate the characteristics of an ethical research study conducted by a criminal justice agency.
  • Differentiate the ethical research methods used in the study conducted by a criminal justice agency and the deceptive research methods employed in the Stanford Prison Experiment.
  • Determine what you believe was the worst ethical violation in the Stanford Prison Experiment and how it could have been avoided.

 

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