Ethical Considerations in Psychological Studies

Revison notes on some of the ethical issues that need to be taken into consideration when planning for an psychological study. For AQA understanding psychology at GCSE level

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Ethical Considerations

 Ethics are the desired standards of behaviour we have towards others. If we behave ethically, then we are treating others respectfully and we have a concern for their wellbeing. The BPS has published guideline outlining ethical concerns involved with psychological studies and how they must be addressed.

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Ethical Considerations

Confidentiality: Participants and the data you gain from them must be kept anonymous and confidential unless full consent has been given.

Informed Consent: Before a study takes place the researcher must outline the full aims of the research to the participant. They also must state what the research entails.  And then ask for consent from the paticipant.  If the research is being conducted on children then the consent is needed from the parents and the child. In some situations such as natural observation, informed consent is not neccessary.

Withdrawal: When participants agree to take part in research they are not aware of the extent to which you will enroach upon their emotions, feelings and morals. Therefore researchers must tell the participants that they have a right to withdraw at any point. Any data gained from this participant must then be deleted and not included in the studies results.

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Ethical Considerations

Distress: Researchers must ensure that those taking part in research will not be caused distress. All participant must be protected from physical and mental harm. This means you should not embarrass, upset, frighten, offend or harm participants. This is important in cross cultural research.

Debriefing: All participants need to be debriefed at the end of the study. They must be given a general idea of what the researcher was investigating and why. They must be told the results are confidential. They also must be notified if they have been decieved and it should be justified to them. All questions must be answered fully and honestly. During this time the researcher must check if no distress has been caused by checking on the participants physical and psychological wellbeing.

Deception: In order to reduce demand characteristics, Deception is sometimes necessary. However participants must be decieved as little as possible and any deception must not cause distress. The true nature of the research should be revealed at the earliest point possible. During debriefing the researcher must state how and why the participants were decieved. The researcher must ensure that participant then feels comfortable in taking part in the research.

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