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Psychological research may do more than just observe participants: These concerns came to a head in the backlash after Stanley Milgram's study into obedience in the s. Researchers who go against these Codes will struggle to publish their work and may even lose their jobes.
Ethical issues in research are significant for students in other ways: Candidates are expected to evaluate research ethically, weighing up whether research can be justified if it harms or manipulates participants and suggesting improvements to unethical research. Candidates are expected to conduct their own practicals ethically and these must comply with the BPS Code of Conduct too.
Besides being wrong in itself, research that leaves angry and traumatised participants drags the whole discipline of Psychology into disrepute, making it harder for future researchers to recruit samples or attract funding. Moreover, because psychological research has applications for the real world, researchers must also consider how their research will be used once it is published and whether it gives encouragement to destructive behaviours or unacceptable views.
These issues become even more urgent when the participants in psychological research are vulnerable or the conclusions touch on sensitive topics: The guidelines presented later are never a substitute for good sense and wisdom: If you're in the mood to be distressed, have a look at this rogues gallery in the chequered history of Psychology: The 4 principles are a helpful way of evaluating studies and your own practicals.
However, you might prefer to pass over this section in favour of the more familiar guidelines in the next section. The BPS picks out three characteristics that must be respected in ethical research: This means people's ability to make their own choices.
You respect people by presenting them with choices and giving them the information to make an informed choice, then accepting their decision and acting on it.
It is disrespectful to manipulate or overrule people or ignore their wishes, Privacy: This means people's right not to be in research and not to share data about themselves with others.
You respect people by concealing their identity if they wish it and not making their behaviour or views public if they wish it to remain secret. It is disrespectful to put people on show and spread information about them without their agreement. This is the idea that people have a right not to be "lumped together" as part of a group or treated according to stereotypes.
You respect people by finding out about them as individuals and treating them as they wish to be treated. It is disrespectful to ignore people's wishes or concerns and treat them as anything less than an important individual.
Respect is a principle, not an absolute rule. For example, there may be reasons why a researcher has to overrule a participant's right to privacy. For example, the research might show up a crime or a medical problem that must be acted on, so that police or doctors have to get involved. However, respect for dignity means that participants should be advised about the possibility of this before the research begins.
Then there is research that involves tricking or trapping participants in some way, putting them in situations that are uncomfortable or not what they seem.
A good example of this is Milgram who told participants they were taking part in a memory test but really their obedience to an authority figure was being observed. Research that disrespects people's autonomy in this way needs special justification.
Respect for dignity means that participants should be debriefed so that they can give their consent to taking part after-the-event.
One aspect of this in transparency. Honest research does not deceive participants; everything is "above board". Dishonest research deceives the paricipants and increases distrust of Psychology as a subject. Another aspect is professionalism. Professional scientists maintain a detachment from participants and the topic being researched.
This includes avoiding personal relatioships with participants or allowing your personal feelings to influence the research. Unprofessional research will not be objective, damages the reputation of Psychology and may damage the trust of participants.
A third aspect is collegiality. Scientists are responsible for each other's conduct. Colleagues should monitor each other and report ethical violations they see going on.
Scientific integrity is an ideal and not an absolute rule.
There may be reasons that justify deceiving participants. It involves recognising that the research may carry on having effects long after all the data has been gathered.First Amendment Library. FIRE’s First Amendment Library is a free, online database of First Amendment-related materials, including illustrated timelines, educational materials, unique articles, and more than Supreme Court cases concerning the First Amendment.
The content available in the library serves as the foundation for an an easy-to-use, ever-expanding resource for students, law.
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