Does Science’s Ethical History Matter? Group Status, Research Ethics, and Support for Science
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This study aims to expand upon research that examined the ethics of the Tuskegee experiment and how knowledge of that study affected African-American’s willingness to participate in research (Shavers, Lynch, & Burmeister, 2000). The purpose of this study was to measure participants’ willingness to increase or decrease contributions made to scientific research after reading a synopsis of the Tuskegee experiment or other examples of unethical experiments. Participants read a summary of one of three cases that actually took place and impacted historically disadvantaged groups (e.g., Black, Gay, or Women) or was edited to portray the unethical experiment impacting a historically advantaged group (e.g., White, Straight, or Men). Willingness to contribute to scientific research was measured via a survey that included items from prior research on the perception of experimental ethics (Korenman, Berk, Wegner, & Lew, 1998). I hypothesized that learning about unethical research that happened to majority groups would result in decreased support for science compared to when minority groups were the primary victims of unethical research. There were few statistically significant interactions between group and case types on the dependent variables of interest. But, there was a statistically significant main effect of group when the ethics of the experiment were examined. The participants viewed studies as more ethical when advantaged groups were affected. There is a lack of existing literature concerning the interaction of group status and support for research in respect to ethics and this research hopes to help fill that gap.
Naveira, Emily N. (2017). Does Science’s Ethical History Matter? Group Status, Research Ethics, and Support for Science. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from