Ethical Standards and Codes

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Ethical Standards and Codes
Stephenie Carter, Sundee Johnson, Saroja Nimmagadda, Selma Pasagic University of Phoenix

Ethical Standards and Codes
Ethics to some is an intuition of what is right or wrong, and to others it is right or wrong defined by laws, rules, codes, or culture standards. Ethical standards and codes are essential in the professional world, especially in a clinical setting. Ethics guide reactions and interactions from which ethical decisions are made. The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of ethical standards and codes in the field of psychology by defining ethical standards and codes, analyzing the impact of societal norms, evaluating the influence of the APA’s ethical standards and codes on professional practice, and explaining the importance of professional ethical standards and codes. Standards and Codes

Ethical standards initiate the foundation of what is right or wrong. So what are ethics? According to Resnik (2010) “the most common way of defining ethics are norms for conduct that distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behavior but could also be defined as the disciplines that study standards of conduct or a method, procedure, or prospective for deciding how to act, analyze problems and issues”. The ethical norms for conduct formulate standards and codes of expected behaviors. According to Levy, (1974) “codes of ethics are at once the highest and lowest standard of practice expected of a practitioner, the awesome statement of rigid requirements, and the promotional material issued primarily for public relations purposes. They embody the gradually evolved essence of moral expectations, as well as the arbitrarily prepared shortcut to professional prestige and status”. The need for a moral perspective that provides professionals with the means to deal with practical problems results in the establishment of codes of ethics. Ethical standards and codes are based on a collective group of norms for acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Societal Norms

Societal norms are behaviors socially acceptable within one’s culture, society, or profession. A behavior that may perceive as socially acceptable within one culture may not be acceptable in another. One culture may consider a married man who engages in many sexual relations with women socially acceptable behavior whereas another will not. “Societal norms may shape the basis for codes of ethics. If something is not considered to be socially acceptable, then it may show up on a code of ethics as an undesired behavior” (Bartolomei, 2010). Psychologists have to respect professional ethical standard and codes. Understanding socially acceptable or unacceptable standards of behavior is integral in forming some of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) ethical standards and codes for psychologists to follow. Society does not approve of sexual misconduct or threats in the workplace. Societal attitudes about sexual harassment in the workplace have led to the formation of one of the APA ethical codes on sexual harassment. According to the APA, psychologists should not engage in sexual harassment in the workplace (2010). Society’s perception of what defines sexual harassment is similar to the APA‘s definition of sexual harassment. According to the APA, “Sexual harassment is sexual solicitation, physical advances, or verbal or nonverbal conduct that is sexual in nature, that occurs in connection with the psychologist's activities or roles as a psychologist, and that either is unwelcome, is offensive, or creates a hostile workplace or educational environment” (2010). If one were to ask a general member of society what his perception of sexual harassment is, he would give a definition similar to the one given by the APA. Therefore, one can conclude that society’s disapproval of sexual harassment results in the formation of the APA’s ethical code on sexual harassment. Sexual intimacy is a socially acceptable or...
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