Discuss ethical considerations related to research studies at the biological level of analysis. (22)

Discuss (22) – A considered and balanced review, including a range of arguments, factors or hypothesis. Opinions and conclusions presented clearly supported by appropriate evidence.

Ethical guidelines

The need to break guidelines

Seligman – Learned Helplessness Dog Study (Depression)
[A] Prove that Learned Helplessness can lead to depression.
  • A dog was trapped in an enclosed area where the floor was lined with electrodes.
  • The experimenter would activate the electrode once in a while.
  • The dog would jump over a low wall to the other side of the enclosed area where no electrodes were on the floor.
  • The experimenter raised the wall slowly until it was too high for the dog to jump over.
  • Then after a few trials, the experimenter lowered the wall again.
  • The dog gave the high wall a few attempts.
  • But after knowing that it is impossible to jump across, the dog gave up and let itself get electrocuted.
  • When the walls were lowered again, the dog did not attempt to jump across.
  • The dog learnt that he is incapable of jumping across.
  • Learn that its are helpless therefore lowering its self esteem.
  • Low in ecological validity, lab experiment.
  • Controlled, no confounding variable.
  • Animal experiment can provide insight into human behaviour.
  • Unethical, participants did not have rights to withdraw.
  • Induced fear and depression into participants.

Milner and Scoville- The Case Study of HM
  • HM suffered from epilepsy.
  • Went through lesioning to remove temporal lobe.
  • Surgeon accidentally removed parts of the Hippocampus (responsible for LTM retrieval).
  • Caused anterograde and retrograde amnesia.
  • Retrograde amnesia only affected memory up to 11 years before surgery.
  • He can remember things 12 years before the accident.
  • Discovered that the cortex and hippocampus is connected and years in first grade would not be fully consolidated until first year in sophomore.
  • Emotional memory was intact, at the mention of the death of his favourite uncle, he experienced distress.
  • Ecological validity: High, study of a real life case.
  • Low potential ability to generalise because cases are individual.
  • Ethics: Patient’s name was kept confidential until he died.

Money – Sex Change Case Study (Genetics)
[A] Prove that nurture determined gender identity, not nature.
  • Longitudinal study on David Reimer.
  • David Reimer was a boy who lost his penis while a circumcision accident.
  • Money suggested David’s parents to give him a sex change.
  • He did not reveal his true motive was to prove that nurture determines gender identity, not nature.
  • When David grew up, he displayed masculine behaviour.
  • Causing problems in school with his peers.
  • Proves the psychosexual development is determined by chromosomes and hormones.
  • Ethical guidelines: Unethical
  • A lot of deception and uninformed consent.
  • No protection from physical and mental harm.
  • No rights of withdrawal.
  • Milton Diamond was not convinced, he examined the role of hormones on the developing fetus.
  • Suggesting that psychosexual development is not determined by genitalia or upbringing, but rather chromosomes and hormones.