Moral standards are principles guiding how researchers conduct their research. According to the American Psychological Association, adhering to ethical standards is an indicator of research competency. Bandura conducted a study to investigate how behaviors are acquired. His experiment is one of the most recognized and praised researches in psychology. However, his analysis has a lot of ethical issues that raise significant concerns.
It was unethical for Bandura to exhibit aggressive behaviors on children. In his hypothesis, Bandura suggested that new behaviors can be acquired through observation. Therefore, when he exposed children to the experiment, he knew that children would learn the seen behavior. In this case, Bandura failed to recognize the long term effect of the violent images on children. Many studies have shown that visual images are stored in the brain longer than audio images. What the children saw in the experiment may have a long-lasting effect on their future life. Also, there are other non-effect experiments that Bandura could have used to investigate the same hypothesis. For example, he could have to study how children learn to play instruments or how they learn to mimic adult's voices. Using aggression was a malicious act. Lastly, Bandura failed to consider what he would have felt if his child was subjected to such a study. Very few parents, including Bandura, would want their children to be exposed to such violence.
Bobo doll experiment could not have been conducted without breaking the APA ethical standards. Bandura prevented the children from withdrawing from the study. The APA guidelines require an individual to be allowed to withdraw from the study at any time. During the study, someone stood at the door to prevent the children from going out of the room. The children were underage and, therefore, could not give consent. It is an assumption that parents were aware of the experiment since the nursery school teacher gave permission. One of the statements included in the consent form is the effect of an analysis on the participant. If the parents were given the consent forms, they could have seen the long-lasting impact of the research on their children. Therefore, they could not have given the consent form. The code of conduct requires an individual to come out of an experiment in the same state they were before the test. The violence images that the children saw may have affected their behavior.
Various ethical principles need to be added. Children should not be allowed to participate in any experiment that may harm them no matter how famous the test is. The policy will protect children from psychological trauma. Utilitarianism should not be used in research. The theory suggests that an action is considered good or bad, depending on its effects on the majority. Bandura may have argued that his work was beneficial to the majority, and therefore it was not wrong. Such a theory fails to cater for the well-being of the minority.
In conclusion, Bandura's experiments still raise questions on how well researchers are following ethical standards. His analysis posed a psychological pain to the individual, and there is no evidence of the children going for counseling. Bandura failed to adhere to the ethical standards when he denied the children their right to withdraw from the experiment. His choice of research was misguided because there were other safe experiments that he could have done to test the same hypothesis. Lastly, there is a need for the revision of ethical principles to include those ideas that will ensure the minority are protected.
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