Missing Child Experiment

Kris K. Alyssa K. Bryce B.

Summarization of the experiment

  1. There was a missing child poster put up around a mall and the child in the poster was at the mall. Only two people asked her if she was ok; the rest of the people in the mall didn’t do anything because they didn’t want to get involved, but they said that they recognized the girl.

  2. It showed that the majority of people do not want to get involved in a situation that would make them feel uncomfortable, especially if no one else is.

  3. There have been other experiments similar to this done. The results are always the same - most people didn’t acknowledge the posters, the people who did see the posters and recognize the child usually didn’t do anything, and a couple of people would talk to the child or call the police.

Significance or purpose of the experiment.

It was a social experiment to see how people would react to these types of situations. Parents try to rely on these posters to find their missing children, so it also tested the effectiveness of the posters. It shows that people need to pay attention to the posters, because they could help find a missing child.

Positive and Negative outcomes of the experiment

  • positives - it showed that there are a few people out there that actually do care about helping others

  • negative - it showed that most people do not want to go out of their way to talk to a child or make them feel uncomfortable asking if they are the missing child in the poster (if they recognize the child in the poster and notice the poster). It also showed that most people are not observant and do not acknowledge things around them.

Was ethically carried out?

It was not carried out ethically. The Missing Child Experiment violated the ethics rule in psychology that stated “the investigator must debrief participants, telling the true nature of the study and expectations of results”.

In your opinion, was the information and results that were found with this experiment justify all of its outcomes and people they may have affected, good or bad?

Yes, because there was the positive outcome that tactics to find missing children improved, like the amber alert is a popular method now.

How has this experiment or the ideas presented in the experiment changed the field of psychology?

  • out of psychology effects - made the child amber alerts more annoying to get people’s attention

  • perceptual blindness - failure to notice an unexpected stimulus that is in plain site

  • people do not pay attention as much they should and don’t notice important things

Ethics means in our own words

A person who studies a individual or groups behavior

What are the ethical procedures we follow in psychology

  1. rights and well-being of participants must be weighed against the study’s value to science

  2. participants must be allowed to make an informed decision about participation

  3. deception must be justified

  4. participants may be withdraw from the study at anytime

  5. participants must be protected from risks or told explicitly of risks

  6. investigator must debrief participants, telling the true nature of the study and expectations of results

  7. data must remain confidential