Ethics in Psychology

1) Choose an ethically controversial psychology study. See the video attached for ideas.

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2) Describe the study (2-3 paragraphs):

A – what was done in the study (methods)?

B- what were the findings?

C – what theory/concepts does the study illustrate from the text? (i.e. classical conditioning, operant conditioning, Gestalt psychology, social darwinism, functionalism, etc)?

3) Comment on another student’s post (1 paragraph) to state 2 reasons why their selected study was controversial/unethical. Do the benefits/findings of the study outweigh the costs?

Comment on this post below titled “Lost in the Mall”

Lost in The Mall

One ethically controversial psychology study that I reviewed was, Loftus’ “Lost in The Mall” Study. This study was performed in 1995 and 1996 by Elizabeth Loftus and her colleagues to document the implanting of fictitious memories in people that they were lost in a shopping mall as a child.

The way the study was performed was by describing the event along with actual events for a period of time until being absorbed as the truth. This study was viewed as controversial because there were recovered memories of abuse that were revealed during this study which could not be proved as a real memory. The study caused numerous debates regarding false memories, repression and recovered memories.

The findings were initially complex and unreliable by others because Loftus failed to appropriately define her methodology and select her participants in that some may have actually experienced being lost in the mall as a child, causing the study to be invalid.

To better define and prove her study and to ensure that she was not recovering lost memories, she and her colleagues changed the implanted memory to having one believe that they met Bugs Bunny at Disneyland. I began to wonder why that was any different from the memory of being lost in the mall, couldn’t one have actually met Bugs Bunny at Disneyland? The article stated that a cartoon aficionado would understand why this memory was indeed false. Bugs Bunny is a Warner Bros. cartoon character and wouldn’t be featured in any Walt Disney company.

This type of study supports cognitive psychology in that it regards mental processes which includes how one think, perceive, remember and learn. In this study, the participants’ memories were manipulated, causing them to process the implanted memories as their own experiences.

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