This paper explores the concept and nature of ethics when researching bystander apathy, the social phenomena where individuals observe a crisis situation and yet do not offer assistance. To better understand this occurrence, researchers attempted to observe the reaction of college students in such a situation. Presented with a psychosocial experiment that involved deception and the appearance of physical harm to participants, questions about the ethical validity of the research must be weighed and considered. In addition to evaluating the role of the American Psychological Association (APA)'s Ethics Code for experiments, this paper seeks to qualify whether research gains initially made under the likes of Darley and Latane (1968) were in any way aided by the topical research experiment. Through the investigation of the APA's Ethics Code, this paper suggests that such deception is incongruent with the necessary ethical standards of scientific research and the ultimate output of information obtained.
Keywords: bystander apathy, deception, experiment, ethics code.
Considerations of Ethics in Research on Bystander Apathy.
Psychological research has long provided society with a way to ask questions in the hopes of understanding human behavior. As the desire to understand the concepts and phenomena associated with human behavior has increased, the focus of research has also shifted to reflect the topical concerns of the time. One such subject of research is "bystander apathy," seeking to understand how people respond in a crisis situation. To observe the how people would behave in crisis, a group of researchers asked university students to complete surveys by themselves or in groups of three, then released smoke into the room while the participants were finishing their paperwork. Once the students reaction to the smoke were noted, participants were given an explanation about the true nature of the experiment.