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Ethical concerns about experimentation involving humans did not receive much attention until the 1960s. In psychology, several experiments were noted as catalysts to the development of ethical guidelines for researchers using human subjects.

The purpose of this assignment is to increase your awareness of the ethical issues in social psychological research. This goal will be accomplished through your critical examination of two experiments conducted in the 1960s and 1970s: 1) Milgram’s research on obedience and 2) Middlemist and others’ study on invasion of personal space. After reviewing the arguments of their critics and the counter-arguments of researchers in defense of their works, you will state and defend your position in these debates.


  1. Read the section “Ethics and Values in Social Psychology” in the textbook (pp. 47-49).
  2. Retrieve the six journal articles listed below these instructions.
  3. Read these articles carefully to be sure that you understand how the original experiments were conducted, what objections were raised by the critics, and what arguments the researchers used to defend their research procedures. You are encouraged to use additional references in your essay.
  4. Assess all the arguments presented, and add any other arguments you may have.
  5. Determine your position on this topic and provide reasons for it.
  6. Write a 10 to 15-page essay on the debates about the ethics of these two pieces of research and on the ethical issues in social psychological research in general. Note when these experiments were conducted and when the ethical guidelines were developed. The marking key that follows should give you an idea about the format for this assignment, what to include, and the relative weight given to the sections.
  7. Please submit your assignment for grading and feedback using the assignment drop box at the course website. Keep a backup copy of your paper in case the original should disappear in cyberspace.

    Articles for This Assignment

    Baumrind, D. (1964). Some thoughts on ethics of research: After reading Milgram’s “Behavioral study of obedience.” American Psychologist, 19(6), 421-423. doi:10.1037/h0040128

    Koocher, G. P. (1977). Bathroom behavior and human dignity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35(2), 120-121. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.35.2.120

    Middlemist, R. D., Knowles, E. S., & Matter, C. P. (1976). Personal space invasions in the lavatory: Suggestive evidence for arousal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33(5), 541-546. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.33.5.541

    Middlemist, R. D., Knowles, E. S., & Matter, C. P. (1977). What to do and what to report: A reply to Koocher.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35(2), 122-124. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.35.2.122

    Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67(4), 371-378. doi:10.1037/h0040525

    Milgram, S. (1964). Issues in the study of obedience: A reply to Baumrind.American Psychologist, 19(11), 848-852. doi:10.1037/h0044954