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Activity Sheet 2-B: Ethical Questions
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Read the following examples, and answer the questions about the ethical treatment of children as subjects.

Example 1:

The goal of the study is to compare the long-term effects of the existence of a particular genetic combination on school achievement, motor coordination, and social relationships. Gene typing at birth reveals the existence of the particular genetic pattern, but it is not apparent in any other way. The researchers want to compare infants who have the genetic combination of interest, but are similar in other ways so they decide not to inform the parents of the real goal of the study. They say they are generally interested in school achievement, motor, coordination, and social development, but they do not tell parents whether or not their child has the particular genetic condition because the researchers are afraid that parents will begin to treat their children differently if they know that they have it.


Is this research ethical?

Why or why not?

How would you change the study?

Example 2:

The goal of the study is to see if elementary school-aged children use social comparison information to judge their own performance. Children are divided into two groups, and then each child is given a puzzle that is impossible to complete. Before starting it, they are asked to judge how good they are at working on such puzzles. They are given five minutes to work on it, and then children are given false social comparison information. Children in one group are told that “most other children their age finished” and children in the other group are told that “most other children their age did not finish.” Then all children are again asked how good they think they are at puzzles like that. Before they leave they are told that the interviewer “made up” the information about how other children did, and that the puzzle was impossible to complete.


Is this research ethical?

Why or why not?

How would you change the study?

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