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Ethics in Social Research: Peculiarities of the Genie Case and the Milgram Experiment Coursework


Exploring Genie case that attracted attention in 1970, the scientists found and opportunity to test the unique situation. A girl who was imprisoned in a home by her father was not able to interact with the world. Due to enormous specific and significance, Genie case gave the possibility to make a research. However, this situation has raised “serious questions about the validity and ethics” (Jones, 1995, p. 261).

Genie case can be considered as an ethical dilemma, where, from one point of view, the scientist can investigate the important issues of the human nature, but, from another side, the scientific approach seems inhuman and doubtful. As the scientists explore the problem of human communication, interaction and learning process, they found this situation as a natural experiment.

According to the Belmont Report that describes the basic ethical principles for research, it is highly important to respect the personal rights. The person who is an object of investigation should have the freedom of choice. In case of the person with diminished autonomy, there must be provided protection. All information about the research should be provided in order to follow the respect of person (“The Belmont Report”, 1979).

The research must do not harm an object and benefit as much as possible. In case of Genie, we can conclude that the girl could not get the information about the research and her autonomy was not protected. It was the experiment on human nature where the respect of person was neglected in order to get the scientific results. Beneficence as one of the basic issues of the Belmont report was not provided.

Obviously, Genie as an object of the research did not get any benefits. The Nuremberg Code emphasizes an importance of the voluntary consent. In case of Genie, this code was not considered.

Genie did not provide an affirmative decision. Exhausted by testing girl did not get any benefits from the experiment. Moreover, an object of this experiment was a girl, not an adult person. As the result, when the scientists received the information, they stopped the experiment and leaved girl.

The Milgram study provided another type of the research. The purpose of this work was the exploration of human reaction on a force by an authoritative person. The object of this experiment had to obey in spite of one’s own moral principle and desires. This method was considered as antihuman and similar to the Nazi’s experiments. Three basic codes of the Belmont report were neglected.

It is a lack of the respect for persons, when the person cannot choose the way of behavior and forced to perform the commands. Obviously, in this situation, we cannot talk about the beneficence. The main idea of the experiment consists in the physical and even moral injury of the object. The results of the experiment cannot be considered as a vital truth due to its harmful nature, emotional distress and conflict.

For Milgram, the exploration was not completely unethical. Although the objects were put at risk, the scientist did not mention it as the basic idea. Such experiment was new; therefore, it was difficult to predict the possible consequences. Despite of the doubtful methods, conclusions of the experiment have been praised by many scientists.

However, the statement that the basement of Holocaust, as well as the Milgram experiment, was a will to obey the authorities seems absolutely inhumane. According, to the Belmont Report, the scientific research should provide the benefits for each person such as an equal share, respect of the individual needs, efforts and social contribution (1979).

Nevertheless, in spite of Genie case, the participants of the Milgram experiment were volunteers. But, trying to prevent the persons from leaving, Milgram placed them in a stressful situation. This part can be considered as a violation.

According to the Nuremberg Code, “the experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature” (“The Nuremberg Code”, 1947). Moreover, the Code says that all the participants should be free to stop the experiment. Those parts of the Code apply to such experiments as the Milgram.

In case of the Milgram experiment we can find the nonobservance of those statements. The Belmont Report, as well as the Nuremberg Code, indicates an importance of the personal freedom within the research. The principle of justice as a fairness distribution is also applies to such experiments as the Milgram, emphasizing an importance of the equal treatment of all participants of the experiment.

Informed Consent also indicates the necessity of the equal treatment and the importance of protection of mentally and physically ill people. The consent of the experiment was not informed. Thus, the participants agreed to take part in the learning program, not the obedience.

An adequate protection was not provided; thereby, some of the participants demonstrated symptoms of a nervous breakdown. Another important issue of the Informed Consent is that everyone should be informed about the recording. In case of the Milgram experiment, the subjects were filmed without consent.

The ethical issues involving research participants include the protection, Informed Consent, privacy and confidentiality (Neuman, 2012, pp. 55-64). Exploring the implication of the privacy and confidentiality within the library and information science, we can find that this issue contains a significant value due to the right of the participant to stop or continue the research.

According to Neuman, “experimental researchers sometime use two-way mirrors or hidden microphones to “spy” on research participants (2012, p. 61). Such methods of the research can be treated as antihuman and illegal. The ethical codes forbid a use of the methods and technologies which can harm, injure or abuse the participants of the research.

For instance, the researcher wants to investigate behavior of the emotionally ill person. He/she comes to the home of that person and speaks with the member of family. However, the researcher hid a small camera or microphone. Thus, the members of family as the participants do not give the consent to be filmed.

They suppose that this research is absolutely confidential and do not want to provide any information that can be recorded. If the participants of the research get learn that the scientist requires such kind of materials, they can easily refuse him. As the result, the researcher would not get some important elements for his work.

The details of the personal life cannot be shared with public within the library and information science without the knowledge of the participants. Therefore, the researchers have to produce an adequate protection of the identity of the participants of the research, for instance, by electing the anonymous responses. Such methods help participants be sure of their physical and legal protection.

Reference List

Jones, P. E. (1995). Contradictions and Unanswered Questions in the ‘Genie’ Case: A Fresh Look at the Linguistic Evidence. Language & Communications, vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 261-280.

Neuman, W. L. (2012). Basics of Social Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (3 rd ed.).Boston: Pearson; Prentice Hall.

National Institutes of Health. (1947). Nuremberg Code. Web.

The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. (1979). The Belmont Report. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2019, June 3). Ethics in Social Research: Peculiarities of the Genie Case and the Milgram Experiment. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethics-in-social-research-peculiarities-of-the-genie-case-and-the-milgram-experiment/

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"Ethics in Social Research: Peculiarities of the Genie Case and the Milgram Experiment." IvyPanda, 3 June 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/ethics-in-social-research-peculiarities-of-the-genie-case-and-the-milgram-experiment/.

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IvyPanda. "Ethics in Social Research: Peculiarities of the Genie Case and the Milgram Experiment." June 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethics-in-social-research-peculiarities-of-the-genie-case-and-the-milgram-experiment/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Ethics in Social Research: Peculiarities of the Genie Case and the Milgram Experiment." June 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethics-in-social-research-peculiarities-of-the-genie-case-and-the-milgram-experiment/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Ethics in Social Research: Peculiarities of the Genie Case and the Milgram Experiment'. 3 June.

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