Ethics and Theories of Human Development

Ethics in the Experiment

The experiment chosen in this context of the discussion on ethics is Lynette Friedrich and Aletha Stein’s (1973) experiment that focused on the effects of different television programs on preschool children. The experiment finds place in discussion of experimental and correlation methods discussed by Carol K. Sigelman, Elizabeth A. Rider (2008) in Life-Span Human Development. In the above-mentioned experiment, investigators divided children in a nursery school into three groups and exposed them to different programs. The first group has been exposed to violent cartoons such as Superman and Batman, which consider aggressive treatment conditions. The second group was made to watch ‘episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which portrays helpful and cooperative acts that portray pro-social treatment conditions. The third watched circuses and farm scenes, which are not either aggressive or altruistic themes. Though, the goal of the above experiment is to see the different treatments from the independent variable, the ignorance of the negative effects of the programs on the minds of children can be accused from the ethical considerations. The independent variable being the groups of children chosen and the dependent variable being aggressive behavior in them, the researchers counted several types of aggressive actions towards the classmates. However, if the aggressiveness due to programs affects the children as well as their classmates, there is no clause mentioned in the experiment to rectify it. Hence, researchers ignored the negative effect in individuals while finding a causal effect, which can be termed as non-ethical as they have no right to impart the negative consequences of their experiment on children. Hence, the important and primary ethical consideration of not affecting negatively the subjects of the experiment can be termed as ignored in the above-mentioned experiment. However, there can be some benefits as well as disadvantages of the experiment (Carol, K. Sigelman., & Elizabeth, A. Rider, 2008, Pp.17).

Costs of the Experiment

The important cost of the above-mentioned experiment is manipulation of the independent variable; the children. Arranging different experiences for affecting different groups differently results in a group of children watching more violence with parents’ consent and thus may have negative effects. The negative effect on them due to violence can only be understood after affecting them adversely. Hence, the compensation for the above-mentioned cost is not mentioned in the above experiment.

Benefits of the Experiment

Though there is a significant cost mentioned in the above experiment, there is a benefit also. One can understand what programs affect the children in a positive manner and what programs affect them negatively. Hence, the results can be used for recommending the programs that can be watched by children that do not affect them negatively.


The first theory in this discussion is Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory. As the example in this discussion is about the reason for kids acting in masculine versus feminine ways, the Psychoanalytic theory is able to explain the conscious and unconscious reasons behind that as well as the social conditions that cause it. In the above context, the gender issues that are a great concern to many patients come to the fore and Freud in this context explains that the femininity and masculinity do not correspond by nature to the two biological sexes. In the above context, according to Wendy, Olesker (2003) girls appreciate male characters and males are against the passive feminine attitude. Hence, psychoanalytic theory explains the above condition as the developmental perspective in which both biologies as well as social forces effect in increasing gain from gender identifications (Olesker, 2003, Page 14-16).

The Neo-Freudian Psychoanalytic theory explains in a different manner. To explain the above fact, Erikson in his Neo-Freudian Psychoanalytic theory considers social, cultural and other environmental factors as well. In this context, Erikson emphasizes the relationship of society and the interpersonal reasons as well as unfolding the personality. In the above context, according to Simanowitz, Valerie (2003), it is the psychoanalytical bias towards the inner world of kids as well as the influence of family, class and society as a reason for feminine Vs muscular actions of kids. As mentioned above, girls appreciate masculine character and boys are averse to passive feminine and favor aggressive feminine character. However, Erikson considers emphasis on relationships as well as social and cultural contexts that make kids think so. Hence, Erikson explains the early childhood development as the reason for and simultaneously questions unremitting emphasis on babyhood and early childhood. Hence, Erikson considers every part of life cycle of kids to explain the reason for their behavior of masculine vs. feminine issues. As he observed that the ego is a positive driving force in human development as well as personality, the ways and means of human development decide the ways of conflict between masculine and feminine nature. Hence, the former theory explains the clash between masculinity and feminine nature due to the fact that they do not correspond by nature. Hence, New –Freudian Psychoanalytic theory explains the reason for it as the children learn and act by watching adults as well as other children they interact (Simanowitz, Valerie, 2003, Page 50).


Carol, K. Sigelman., & Elizabeth, A. Rider. (2008). Life-Span Human Development. Belmont, CA, USA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Simanowitz, Valerie. (2003). Personality Development. Berkshire, GBR: McGrawHill Education.

Wendy, Olesker. (2003). Gender and its Clinical Manifestations. In King, Robert, A. (Ed.), Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. (pp. 14-30). New Haven, CT, USA: Yale University Press.

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