How do politics affect the science of psychology?

I do believe that politics affect the science of psychology and very much does so. To begin with, in society today, political correctness in Britain has become absolutely ridiculous. When writing a research report, researchers today must make certain that they haven’t included any terminology in the report that could possibly offend anyone. It is politically incorrect today to differentiate different types of people from being what is classified as normal. This makes writing a psychology report extremely difficult at times, especially when a non-normal population is taken into consideration, for example when referring to people with special needs or people suffering from depression.

Secondly, it is not as straightforward today to conduct experiments or studies in order to analyse behaviour. For example, Milgram conducted a study in order to investigate the effects of obedience on behaviour. He did this by deceiving participants into believing that they were giving other participants a series of electric shocks, however in reality the participants that were receiving the electric shocks were actually confederates of the researcher. Although Milgram’s study demonstrated shocking behaviour and incredibly informative results, a study such as this one would in no way be given the ‘go ahead’ today due to ethical issues given by the the British Psychological Society and the law. Therefore, it is harder today due to politics to demonstrate enlightening results to suggest the effect of a stimulus on behaviour.

Therefore, politics has had an increasing effect on psychology as a science in recent years. Without politics, in some ways the field of psychology could be much more interesting and informative. However, without politics, ethical guidelines and the law, testing behaviour could become very dangerous. This was demonstrated in Zimbardo’s study where participants were recruited to the role of police officers and criminals in a prison-like study. A video tape was made of the whole study and the researchers discovered dreadfully malicious behaviour from the ‘prison officers’ towards the ‘criminals’ and the ‘criminals’ remained incredibly obedient to the ‘prison officers’ despite the roles being make-believe. When later asked about their experience in the prison-like study, the participants were still incredibly disturbed by the turmoil. Therefore, it is sometimes important that researchers are given some ethical guidelines to follow in order to protect the participants’ well-being. Thus, although politics can stand in the way of fascinating findings at times, it is also important to have politics in the science of psychology in order to protect participants from harm.



5 thoughts on “How do politics affect the science of psychology?

  1. Hi, I completely agree with you that political correctness has gone beyond in Britain these days and this makes it extremely difficult to write a psychology research report without offending anyone. I also agree with you that politics are standing in the way of fascinating findings but then again without the politics many participants could be put in danger such as those in both the Milgram and Zimbardo studies. This is a great blog and I very much enjoyed reading it and I totally agree with the argument you have put across.
    Thank you.

  2. Hi, you have written an interesting blog about a topic that is very relevant to us as psychology students as we have to be careful about what we write in our research reports. I certainly agree with you on the point that political correctness has gone too far in the last few years. As you have said it makes writing about participants from different populations difficult at times and we have to use the APA guidelines to find the correct words to describe people. I agree with you also that without politics involved in psychology there would not e ethical guidelines n place and experiments could be dangerous for participants, which is a good thing even if ethics have gone too far.

    Thank You

  3. Pingback: Blog comments Week 5 « psud4

  4. Exactly, political correctness in disgrace and has gone waaaaay too far, its jst annoying how ridiculous it could get. it makes it such a b*tch to write a report just incase i offend someone. however consider the fact that if someone would get offended, was cos i tried to offend them, did i aim at them? no, it was just coincidental and you must be quite sensitive to be offended!! Politics do restrict us to be able to find advantages in psychology as well!! very good point here, perhaps if they werent so strics, and ‘politically correct’ as they like to call it, there could be a way to go round some ethical principles fo get groundbreaking stuff and conduct research that would have so much advantages to our understanding of some mysteries. how you balance your debate is brilliant as you kindof agree that politics has a good and a bad effect on psychology? Well done this was so interesting!!

  5. Pingback: comments for week 4/5 « arwelio

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