Developmental Psychology Humor

Studies IRB rejected along with their carefully considered rationale. This was originally published in the Happy Hour Archives.

From the Minutes of the Ethical Review Committee

Hippocampus in Learning and Memory

Experiment proposal #: 1145
Investigator: Dr. --------
Status: DENIED

Description: We hope to investigate the role of the hippocampus in learning and memory. Participants from the university community will receive accute lesioning, performed by qualified medical experts,in their left hippocampal regions. Following surgery, participants will be tested on several verbal and spatial working memory tasks, which will be compared to pre-surgery performance.

Reviewers Comments: Although this study could potentially aid the progress of science in ways thay can only now be imagined, we must reject the proposal on ethical grounds. You have neglected an important aspect of experiments such as these: the post-experimental debriefing. Participants leaving your experiment are likely to face issues dealing with their experiences that you have not foreseen. We encourage you to resubmit your proposal with a debriefing protocol, and suggest it includes providing a licensed psychotherapist to participants, to aid in assimilation to the community.


Reactions to Violence

Experiment proposal #: 1153
Investigator: Dr. --------
Status: DENIED

Description: This experiment involves investigating how humans respond to simulated and actual physical violence. Naive participants will be recruited from the Introductory Psychology Course, as partial fullfillment of course requirements. On one day, participants will be exposed to realistic computer games involving bludgeoning and painful injury. The next day, the same participants will witness actual bludgeoning and painful injury (in a counterbalanced fashion.) Following each session, several personality tests will be administered.

Reviewers Comments: It is against University policy to allow Intro. Psych. recruits to take part in multiple-session experiments. Although this study could aid the progress of science in ways that can not be imagined, we reject the request and encourage re-submission once these concerns are addressed.


Learning Musical Motor Skills

Experiment proposal #: 1156
Investigator: Dr. --------
Status: DENIED

Description: In this study, we will examine the ability of subjects to learn simple motor skills while exposed to one of two musical genres: Baroque or Hip-Hop. Subjects will be paid for their time.

Reviewers Comments: Although this research has the potential to advance the march of science in ways thay can only be dreamt, per APA guideline 4533/a34; "...all paid and unpaid volunteers must be referred to as 'participants'." Due to your callous lack of respect for our most valuable resource; these vital collaborators in the research mileau, we reject your request but encourage resubmission once you have come to terms with your unfortunate prejudices.


Dual-Choice Reaction-Time in Chimpanzee

Experiment proposal #: 1162
Dr. --------
Status: DENIED

Description: We propose to study the ability of the African Chimpanzee to learn and perform the so-called PRP task, a dual-choice reaction-time task. We will vary both stimulus and response numerosity to discover if Man's evolutionary cousin also uses a Response-selection Bottleneck to perform accurately.

Reviewers Comments: Although this experiment has the potential to expand the horizons of human knowledge and help advance science, we must reject your proposal because the task you describe is undoubtedly incredibly and painfully boring. Inhumane treatment of animals is reprehensible, and would not reflect well upon our institution. Resubmission of a similar experiment is not advised.


Replicating Milgram's Obediance Studies

Experiment proposal #: 1171
Investigator: Dr. --------
Status: DENIED

Description: We plan to replicate and extend S. Milgram's obediance experiments in a cross-cultural setting. Non-native University students will serve as the "Instructers", while either another non-native or native-born experimental accomplice serves as "Learning Subject". Instructers will administer what they believe to be shocks to the accomplices whenever an error in learning is made. We will investigate how obedient these participants are to the wishes of an authority figure, the experimenter.

Reviewers Comments: This experiment has the potential to alter the way we think about authority, and lead to scientific advancements that can only now be hoped for. However, we must reject this proposal due to its use of deception. It is unacceptable to tell the "Instructer" that he or she is shocking the accomplice, and then fail to deliver this shock. This is unnecessarily deceptive. We encourage resubmission after you develop procedures and apparati that allow this deception to be avoided.