Friday, August 28, 2009

Children as Subjects?

I just finished reading an article seconds ago in the Science Times questioning the morality of an experiment conducted by Dr. Kochanska’s, a researcher at the University of Iowa. Dr. Kochanska’s has conducted an experiment testing the immediate response of todler children after being made to feel guilty by telling them to be careful with a toy (that was already broken). Her studies have showned is that children will feel guilty, look sheaplishly, or express other feelings in response to their guilty conscious. They are then reassured that it was not their fault the toy broke, the toy is fixed and all is right in the world again. Or is it?

Some parents feel that it is completely unethical to expose a young child to pain unnecessarily. Others in support of Dr.Kochanska’s research say that the experiment is very similar to real life scenarios of toddler mishaps. The emotional response of guilt after doing something wrong will continue with all children far after toddlerhood. It is an important aspect of all human consciousness to determine right from wrong, good from bad, and doing things because it is the correct thing to do.

I also think this experiment transcends to the parent's style and ability to understand their child. Each parent is there with their child during the experiments and have the ability to decline their child from participating in particular experiments. For some children, they will feel bad for a short period of time and move on quickly to the next tasks. Others will feel bad for a longer length of time. Knowing the child's temperament and ability to deal with unfortunate situations seems to be the key in whether or not a child's participation is reasonable in this experiment.