Ethics in Psychology

Topics: Milgram experiment, Stanford prison experiment, Animal rights Pages: 9 (2953 words) Published: May 13, 2011

• Discuss ethical considerations in qualitative research. • Discuss ethical considerations related to research studies at the biological level of analysis. • Discuss ethical considerations in research into genetic influences on behaviour. • Discuss ethical considerations related to research studies at the cognitive level of analysis. • Discuss ethical considerations related to research studies at the sociocultural level of analysis. • Discuss cultural and ethical considerations in diagnosis (for example, cultural variation, stigmatization).

2. Ethics is an area of study which seeks to address questions about morality; that is, about concepts such as good and bad, right and wrong, justice, and virtue.

3. Ethics and psychology are intimately linked, inseparable concepts. Every psychological investigation is an ethically charged situation, as research often involves subjecting both human and animal participants to pain or embarrassment. In psychological experiments on human subjects, ethics are dictated by a series of guidelines that researchers must abide by, designed to minimize or eliminate any unnecessary discomfort. There are five major ethical principles detailed by the American Psychological Association:

• Subjects must give informed consent (i.e they must voluntarily agree to and be aware of the contents of the experiment they are to participate in). • Subjects must be given adequate privacy and confidentiality in publishing the experiment’s findings. • Subjects reserve the right to withdraw from the experiment if they so desire. • Subjects should be debriefed in the experiment’s conclusion; if deception has been part of the procedure the nature and purpose of the deception should be explained. • The safety of the subjects should be of paramount importance and they should be provided with sufficient protection from harm or discomfort. These principles must be abided by for the experiment to be considered ethical and for the experiment’s findings to be validated.

The existence of strict psychological ethical guidelines can be attributed to the outcry after several high-profile psychological experiments of the 20th century. The Nazi Medical Experiments performed upon unwitting Jewish participants during World War Two directly led to the creation of the 1947 Nuremberg Code (the first official set of ethical guidelines in the field of medicine) and the subsequent 1967 Helsinki Declaration, which is considered the cornerstone document in modern medical ethics. The 1979 Belmont Report (formally titled the "Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research") and the creation of the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) were both catalysed by the 30-year US Tuskegee Syphilis experiments, which are today considered “the most infamous biomedical research study in U.S. history” 1

4. "The science of life is a superb and dazzlingly lighted hall which may be reached only by passing through a long and ghastly kitchen". These words were famously written in 1865 by French “prince of Vivisection” Claude Bernard, pertaining to the scientific and ethical implications of medical experimentation on animals. Animal Testing (or Vivisection) in research, both psychological and medical, is the use of non-human animals in experiments. It is a widely-employed practice and historically dates back to the Ancient Greeks, in which the earliest reference to vivisection is within the writings of Aristotle in the second century BC. It is estimated that today between 50 and 100 million animals are used for experimentation, the vast majority of these animals are euthanized at the experiment’s conclusion. Approximately 90% of the vertebrates used in vivisection are rats or mice, the remaining animals include cats, dogs, farm animals, fish, birds and non-human primates. The debate over the ethical validity of Animal Experimentation effectively boils...
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