Bias and Ethics
Bias and Ethics
Recall / look up the following:
• Bandura - Bobo Doll Experiment
• The Milgram Experiment
What do you think?
Briefly describe each study.
• a system of moral principles
• the rules of conduct recognized in
a particular group, culture, etc.
•the branch of philosophy dealing with values
relating to human conduct, with respect to the
rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to
the goodness and badness of the motives and ends
Endangering the subject/respondent
• 26 of 40 “teachers” continued with the ‘shocks’ of
• 14 of 40 halted the ‘shocks’ before the 450 voltage
in fear of hurting the learner.
Bandura Bobo Dolls:
• Children even elected to grab toy guns even
though the woman did not abuse the bobo doll
• Influenced children it was okay to be aggressive
because an adult showed it first.
• Little Baby Albert experiment (1920) – was
conditioned to be afraid of anything fuzzy or
white due to loud noises associated with the site
of rabbits and rats. Was unable to desensitize
Stanford Prison Experiment:
• Males were selected to be either guards or prisoners. They fell so
deeply into their roles that the experiment ceased after six days due to
torture techniques and poor living conditions forced upon by the
• Has been compared to Abu Ghraib (mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners in
the early 2000s.
*It’s a very long document, but here is a link to a summary.
Below is a very basic list of the principles outlines in the
1. Respect for Human Dignity:
2. Respect for Free and Informed Consent:
3. Respect for Vulnerable Persons.
4. Respect for Privacy and Confidentiality.
5. Respect for Justice and Inclusiveness.
6. Balancing Harms and Benefits.
7. Minimizing Harm.
There are dozens of types of
biases that affect our decision
making and reveal cognitive,
behavioural, and social
These biases can be on the side
of the researcher or the
participant, and will be
discussed more later…
• Tendency to think that future
probabilities are altered by past
events, when in reality they are
ie. Superbowl coin toss – NFC
won the coin flip the past 14
years.... until 2012.
Odds of that happening - 16 000:1
75% of people who bet on that event selected the NFC to win
..... AFC won the coin toss.
Occurs when people claim more
responsibility for themselves for
results of joint action than an
outside observer would.
ie. Who is accountable for a
sporting win? Or movie
A person’s sense of self can impact
the results in a study
• Tendency for people to favour information that confirms their
beliefs or values
• People display this by gathering information selectively, or
otherwise interpret it in their previous biased way. Emotions
are further enhanced if it has to do with a issue they relate with
or deeply believe in
ie. Abortion, gun control,
carcinogens in marijuana and cigarettes, global warming…
• People prefer sources that affirm their pre-existing attitudes
• Also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their
Whether in choosing a research focus, as subjects
responding to a study, or in deciding which data to
use in our analysis, we need to be aware of bias.
Major sources of bias in the research process;
Selection of problem being researched
The sample design
Result – “Being poor leads to premature death”
What questions should you be asking to determine whether the study
was biased and can be seen as reliable?