Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ethical Concerns in Research


At Studtgarten College in Amherst, MA Dr. Beaumont

Thames, professor of abnormal psychology
was called into question for a study he undertook at
a local fast food restaurant. Over a period of roughly seven months,
Thames worked the night shift at the establishment only blocks from
the University where he is a talented and respected man of the
arts and sciences. During the day he was filling young minds with
knowledge, and by night he was filling stomachs with cheap,
crappy food.

It has been pieced together through his journals
that he was constantly encouraging employees to increase the
serving portion size of the food they were eating on their breaks.
The Very Juicy Burger contains four 1.6 oz hamburger patties,
but toward the end of the study, two of the employees were
stacking on nine or even ten patties at Beaumont's behest.
The academic community is shocked at this scandal:
"It is obscene that a man of such great ability would use his
powers to demean people in this way," said Dr. Eugene Hawkins, who
is Dr. Thames colleague in the psychology department at Studtgarten.
“I feel great responsibility, culpability even, because this
experiment was as much my idea as his, but for me
it was merely theoretical. I never intended on running the test,
but rather, was engaged by the idea of it." 

To convince employees to stack the patties on higher and higher, Beaumont
awarded the greatest eaters with prizes, including cash,
high calorie energy drinks, and beef jerky. In some cases,
Beaumont persuaded employees to wolf down fries while
handing customers back change. 

"We thought if we could influence the eating behavior of the employees
at any given fast-food establishment, we could also influence
the volume of sales," said Dr. Hawkins. "What we never
expected was for the people being handed food by grossly
overweight employees to not notice or care. We thought people would turn in
abhorrence to the ungainly sight of rapid and voracious eaters
of fast food, but apparently, in American culture such activity is
considered normative, no one even blinked."
For now, the restaurant in question has given Beaumont
a 7 cent an hour raise and Studtgarten is forcing him to
teach summer Independent study courses without compensation. 

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