Chapter 3: Ethical Issue in Psychological Research

PRESENTATION 50-50 process &
“Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching.”
~ unknown author
1. the philosophical study of the moral
value of human conduct and of the rules
and principles that ought to govern it;
moral philosophy
2. a social, religious, or civil code of
behavior considered correct, esp. that of a
particular group, profession, or individual
3. the moral fitness of a decision, course of
action, etc.
No real guidelines prior to late 1940s
Early medical & psychological researchers
assumed fellow researchers would not
allow harm to come to their
Several notable historical examples prove
this to have been…wrong…
◦ The Tuskegee Study – 1932-1972
Now - written ethical standards regarding
research, teaching, therapy, supervision,
Specificity of terms
Have to be a psychologist for the code to apply?
Are they guidelines, or rules?
◦ The APA ethical code was first published in 1958, revised in
1972, 1992, 2002, 2010
◦ Guide for researchers, teachers, therapists, administrators
◦ Ethical dilemmas are common because the code is pretty
◦ Technically, yes…but…
◦ Both!
◦ We are expected to act ethically & encourage others to do so
too, but…
◦ 1974 National Research Act requires all research institutions to
have Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) to ensure protection of
human participants
◦ 1985 – U.S. Dept. of Agriculture published guidelines for
treatment of animal subjects
◦ Codes of conduct
Office of Responsible Research Practices
◦ Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC)
◦ Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)
◦ Institutional Review Board (IRB)
Check whether ethical principles are being
Evaluate Risk/Benefit ratio for the study
◦ Subjective evaluation of costs & rewards to the
participants & society
 Asks the question: Is this research worth it?
◦ Consider whether it is a well-designed study
◦ Is there a way to do the study using lower risk
A man has been on an inpatient unit for years
– he has schizophrenia & borderline (low) IQ –
his functioning is low enough that he cannot
sign his name – a new anti-psychotic
medication becomes available for clinical trial
& the unit psychiatrists switch him to it with
the patient’s consent – he has had satisfactory
response to his current regimen of medication
– his family is not informed of the switch – a
few weeks later, he suffers a heart attack and
dies, perhaps as a result of the switch – after
his death, the family argues that they should
have been consulted - did the physicians on
the unit behave ethically?
Including physical &
During experiment & in future as a result of
their participation
Always strive for minimal risk
◦ No risks greater than they would experience in
daily life
◦ Historical example = Milgram’s Obedience Study
Pretty much all the other rules stem from
this Prime Directive
Privacy – the right to decide how
information about themselves is
communicated to others
Confidentiality – what happens in the
research study (therapy session, grades,
supervision, etc.) stays in there
Physical, psychological, monetary
Use of convenience samples
◦ Intro Psych students
◦ Prisoners
◦ Inpatients
Social contract between researcher &
The researcher must tell them about anything
that might influence their willingness to
◦ Activities to expect
◦ Risks/benefits
◦ Right to withdraw
The participant’s ethical obligation is to
behave appropriately – no lying, cheating, etc.
Who can’t give consent?
Research examples - What Do You Think?
Withholding information or misinforming
◦ Can study natural behavior
◦ Can get at behaviors/beliefs not readily studied
without deception
◦ Contradicts informed consent
◦ May make people suspicious
In studies with deception
◦ Reasons for deception
◦ Clear misconceptions
◦ Remove harmful effects
In all studies
◦ Benefits researchers & participants
 Educational
 Participants’ viewpoint
 Helpful to interpretation of results
Who gets publication credit?
◦ Who made significant contribution?
 What does significant contribution mean?
◦ Credit vs. authorship
◦ Discuss this openly, early, & often
Plagiarism issues
◦ The standard: don’t present substantial portions or
elements of another’s work as your own
 What does “substantial” mean?
When do you cite?
When do you use quote marks?
Do you cite if you use quote marks?
Can you turn in virtually the same paper in 2 different
Me: [email protected]
The Office of Responsible Research Practices:
OSU Code of Student Conduct (& other
helpful links):

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