Discuss ethical considerations related to research studies at the biological level of analysis (22) Biological level of analysis takes a deterministic view point. It suggests that you are born with what you get, and as an individual, you cannot change it for example; your genes. All psychological researchers need to follow ethical guidelines. This includes that researches must always inform the participants about the nature of their research, what will happen with the results and obtain consent from all participants involved.
Also, participants should not be harmed physically or psychologically and they have a right to anonymity, with heir results kept confidential. They should be able to withdraw from the research at any point that they would like to. Research at the biological level of analysis sometimes struggles to follow the guidelines above. Although researches are aware of the guidelines, there are some issues which may evoke several opinions to what is ethically right and what is not. For example when researchers use animals to try and obtain information about humans.
Researchers Withering and Ransom in 1942 conducted an investigation on rats to see the role of the hypothalamus in their brain to try and establish hat happens in humans. The researchers used an invasive technique and lessoned the hypothalamus in the rats. Although they are doing this to try and provide a better understanding about the human brain, many people feel that all animal research is unethical due to animals not being able to give informed consent and this connects to the principle that they should have a right to withdraw. As they are animals and have no communication with humans, it is humans that dictate the life of the rats.
Also, no researcher is able to know whether the procedure taking place causes suffering to animals, UT procedures alike to this rat experiment lead to death and one can argue that it is ethically wrong to end an animal’s life because you would not end a humans life for an experiment like this. This study also highlights another issue; using animals is not always a reliable representation of the human brain as we are unable to find out if their brains process differently to ours. Another ethical issue which researchers may sometimes struggle to follow is confidentiality.
There are some research studies which evoke ethical matters to be taken into consideration. A man named Clive Wearing was a highly educated, talented musician and broadcaster who had a viral infection leaving him with extensive brain damage. It caused him to have major memory disruption, yet was still able to talk, read and write. Clive Wearing case is very unique and researchers recognize this and are keen to study him. However, due to his very short term memory and inability to recall long conversations, he is unable to recognize that he is being tested on.
His wife, his true care, has given the consent for psychologists to use him for research to gain knowledge about the human brain however some may argue that this s ethically wrong because for all anyone knows Clive Wearing may want his condition to be confidential and not want to be in public view. It also touches on the fact that Clive Wearing would not have a right to withdraw as is unable to hold a memory for a long time so would soon forget if anyone tried to tell him that research was being conducted on him.
Another unique case which entwines with this argument is the case of HIM. For more than 50 years, HIM lived without major proportions of his brain. However, unlike Clive Wearing, the research discovered from HIM was only released when he died and was pet private up until that point. This counteracts what has been done with Clive Wearing and some would say that the research conducted on HIM was much more ethical due to that confidentiality being kept till the end. Lastly, one issue which isn’t always looked into so carefully is psychological harm.
Although researchers may think that the experiments they are causing no harm, every human works in different ways and emotions and feelings can be evoked even when it is least expected. For example, there were many research studies Condo acted on twins. Minnesota tried to investigate intelligence on identical twins. In 1990 his study was to try and compared identical twins that are raised apart and identical twins which live together and see if there are any significant differences between both sets of twins.
However, it may be that the identical twins which were raised apart are like that for a reason and by doing this research is brings them back together and this could lead to stress or psychological harm. In the process of the study, there could be genetic information obtained and that could be problematic for the participants involved. For example, if one of the twins was shown to eave a disease and then the researcher found out that the other one had a chance of it, it could lead there to be worry and potential emotional damage.
In conclusion, there is a range of ethical issues that researches working at the biological level of analysis must consider. Although sometimes, it has been shown that it cannot always be helped. However, generally, ethical considerations prevent researchers doing the kind of experimental work on humans that is necessary to confidently make cause-effect conclusions, and therefore they carry out their research using methods that do not cause damage to humans.