Cardwell (1996) described ethics as norms of conduct which considers acceptable behaviour in the pursuit of a particular personal or scientific goal. Ethics are very important when carrying out any type of psychological research and before any research method is carried out it is vital to stick to an ethical code of practise for the results should be reliable with internal or external validity. Ethics are boundaries set in order to protect participants from psychological harm and it is a psychologist’s duty to ensure that these guidelines are followed. Some of important ethical issues include informed consent, debriefing, protection of participants, deception, confidentiality, withdrawal from an investigation and to mention only a few. The purpose of this essay is to clearly evaluate how these ethical issues mentioned above are important in research and giving valid examples using case studies where researches with ethical issues were conducted.
Zechmeister (2012), suggest that ethics are important in research because when informed consent have been done which is giving much information as possible to the participants, the participants have the right to stop the research from going on. In all circumstances, investigators must consider the ethical implications and psychological consequences for the participants of research. The essential principle is that the investigation should be considered from the stand point of all participants; foreseeable threats to their psychological well-being, health, values or dignity should be eliminated. Therefore, that’s why ethics are important in research. However, there is no guarantee that ethics avoid psychological harm, for example, Milgram’s study of obedience where he used the ethic of debriefing after deception, the participants were affected psychologically after experiments. In the case of Milgram’s research there was involvement of some deception, where by researchers withhold information about the purpose or procedures of the study to the participant. The reason for doing so being that researchers believe that if participants know the truth on the purpose of a study, their behaviour in it will be changed by that knowledge. Thus, the research will not yield valid information about behaviour in question. However, deception has been found to present as harmful to participants as it may result in emotional instability, the use of deception therefore poses as an ethical dilemma, on the other hand, it seems essential to the research, on the other it raises psychological harm.
Ethics are important in research for they are used to avoid psychological harm that would disturb and distress the participant during the experiment and in the future, for example, Watson and Rayners study of little Albert. They used classical conditioning to cause Albert to have phobia of the rat which was accompanied with a loud voice, which later developed further till he had a phobia associated with similar objects. This would be seen largely as breaking the code of ethics as Albert suffered psychological harm and distress during and after experiment, hence, ethics such as debriefing which is informing the participant at the end of the experiment and informed consent which is giving a full brief of information to participants before they make their decision to participate are important in research for they guide as protection from harm to the participants both physically and psychologically to avoid distress. Informed consent and thorough debriefing can substantially reduce the potential dangers of deception and psychological harm, when working with youth under the age of eighteen, parental consent might be required. In addition to parental consent for minors, youth should also be asked for consent to participate if not the researchers should be authorised with parents or guardian. however, in as much as researchers would try to avoid psychological harm with informing the participants, the results...
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