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GWU Implications of Exposing Participants to Violent Messages Discussion

GWU Implications of Exposing Participants to Violent Messages Discussion

Question Description

Over the last two weeks, we discussed several issues related to the ethical practice of research. For this short (4-5 page) paper, you will respond to a specific research scenario in which you will face an ethical dilemma. To do so, you will need to adopt the perspective of the researcher in the scenario and describe how you would respond to the issues in the scenario.


The scenario: You have chosen to perform research on how a presidential candidate’s messaging affects his constituents. This particular candidate has a tendency to make wild claims and suggest that violence may be a useful solution to political problems. In performing your research, you will have to expose your research participants to messages made by the candidate — messages that overtly call for violence. You plan to perform this experiment online, meaning that you will be unable to gauge participant reactions to the messages that you expose them to.

After submitting your study’s design to the Institutional Review Board, they respond that there may be some problems associated with exposing participants to the violent messages delivered by the political candidate.

The issues: In writing this paper, please address the following questions:

  1. Why might the Institutional Review Board think it could be problematic to expose research participants to violent messages delivered by the political candidate? What are the implications of doing so? Are there any ways you can minimize that damage that might be cause by exposing participants to the violent messages?
  2. What are the implications of running this experiment online? Specifically, how does running the experiment online affect your ability to see whether you are causing your participants psychological harm by exposing them to the violent messages? Are there any ways that you can gauge participant discomfort while they are participating?
  3. Consider the risks and benefits associated with conducting this study. List all the risks that you think this study might cause participants. List all the benefits to participants and to society if you effectively perform this research study? Do you think the benefits outweigh the risks? Why or why not?

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