Issues - Ethical Issues

Revision notes on ethical issues

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  • Created on: 19-06-08 15:34
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Psychology Revision Unit 5 ­ Issues
Ethical Issues
What are Ethics?
Ethics are a set of moral principles used to guide human behaviour. They are a means of determining what
is considered right or wrong for a particular group.
Ethical Issues in Psychology
There are 5 key areas surrounding ethics in psychology:
1. Deception
2. Right to Withdraw
3. Informed Consent
4. Protection from Harm
5. Privacy / Confidentiality
Examples of Unethical Research
1. ASCH ­ Conformity Study
Told his participants that his experiment was looking at perception, but it fact it was about
conformity. This meant they were deceived and as a result couldn't give their informed consent.
Participants were also unaware confederates were involved in the study and that these
confederates were purposefully lying.
During the study participants had the dilemma of whether to conform or not. It could be argued that
they conformed because they didn't want to feel foolish in front of a group (might create a feeling
of anxiety). Some also reported after the experiment that it made them worry / wonder if they had
poor eye sight, this and the fact they conformed to something so clearly wrong may have an effect
on their self-esteem.
Ethical Issues Here = Deception, Informed Consent, and Protection from Harm (psychological)
2. MOSCOVICI - Conformity Study
Participants were unaware confederates were involved in the study and that these confederates
were purposefully lying.
Informed consent could not be gained as confederates were used without participants knowing.
Ethical Issues Here = Deception and Informed Consent
3. MILGRAM ­ Obedience Study
Participants were told the study was about memory and learning, when in fact it was researching
obedience. The experimenter's behaviour and props used such as the electrodes, generator and `Mr
Wallace' receiving the shocks seemed realistic but were in fact fake.
The fact that participants were received means they cannot give informed consent.
The experiment was said to have had serious effects on participants, they were placed under severe
stress which may have led to extreme feelings of anxiety.
The experimenter made it extremely difficult for participants to leave and pressured them to go on.

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Ethical Issues Here = Deception, Informed Consent, Protection from Harm (psychological) and
Right to Withdraw.
Milgram attempted to defend himself. He said that without deception the experiment would have
been pointless, if participants knew the set up was fake we wouldn't have gained truthful
information about human behaviour. At the end of the experiment participants were debriefed and
only 1% wished they hadn't been involved. The debriefing of participants is also used to help justify
the lack of informed consent.…read more

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Intelligence and Race
Jensen wrote an article that stated that research that intelligence was inherited and there was a 15
point difference in IQ's of black and white Americans, and this was partially genetic. Inevitably this
sparked emotional and political controversy. A book by Hernstein and Murray also claimed that
intelligence is largely genetic and societies should cease wasting resources on educating individuals
beyond their innate potential.
3.…read more

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Interpretation and Application
Interpretation and application of research findings. Especially the applications of the findings in
ways far removed from the experimenters intentions.
Sieber and Stanley also suggest that the following are particular ethical issues of SSR
1. Privacy ­ must be ensured
2. Confidentiality of data
3. Sound and valid methodology
4. Deception ­ must be avoided
5. Informed Consent ­ must be gained
6.…read more


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