A2 - Psychology - Ways of dealing with ethical issues with human participants

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  • Straight after a study participants should be told the real aims, be able to discuss concerns and be allowed to withraw their data - but this may not solve embarassment or low self-esteem.
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Presumptive consent

  • A similar group of people to the prospective participants are asked wether they would agree to take part; if tey would, this is presumptive consent.
  • For example, Milram wuld have presumed there was no potential for psychological harm as 14 students estimated tha almost no one would go beyond 450 volts, therefore no psychological harm was expected.
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Ethical committee

  • Each institution's ethical committee considers the issues in proposed research, weighing the benefits of the research agains possible costs to the participants.
  • However, cost-benefit decisions are subjective and coss may not appear until it is too late.
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Problems with ethical guidelines

  • Te BPS and APA guidelines offer a 'rules and sactions' approach, but these ma be too general and absolve a esearcher of responsiblility if tehy have 'followed the guidelines'.
  • The Canadian Psychological Association presents hypothetical dilemmas for discussion instead. This is better as it encourages discusssion about wha is right and wrong.
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  • The BPS reviews research it considers may be unethical and can stop pscologists from pracising, althoug breaking the guidelines is not illegal.
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