Ethical issues

research methods

  • Created by: Natasha
  • Created on: 12-01-10 15:57

Ethical Issues

ethical guidelines are a set of rules/ moral principles psychologists follow when conducting research.

their purpose is to:

  • protect pps
  • balance pps rights and researcher needs
  • provide boundaries - know the limits

they are produced by:

  • BPS - British Psychological Societies
  • APA - American Psychological Association

studies highlighting issues - milgram. loftus and palmer

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the main ethical issues are:

1. informed consent -- overcome by presumptive/prior consent

2.confidentiality/privacy -- cannot be overcome

3.physical/psychological harm -- overcome by role play

4.right to withdraw -- cannot be overcome

5.deception -- role play

6.use of animals

7.debrief -- cannot be overcome

cost - benefit analysis helps to determine whether or not a study should be undertaken. the ends (results) should justify the means (procedures)

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use of non- human animals

3 reasons for use of animals

  • 1. reproduce faster
  • 2. dont have same rights
  • 3. different capabilities to humans so useful to examine and compar to human behaviours

3 reasons not to use animals

  • 1. unethical /harm
  • 2. consent cant be given
  • 3.physically humas and animals are not simialr so cannot generalise

BPS guidelines on animal research are:

  • reduce- the numbers of animals/risk and protect humans,animals & environment
  • refine-experimetnal procedures to minimise suffering
  • replace-use of animals e.g by invitro methods
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the use of animals in research is regulated by the Animals Act (1986). research on live animals cannot commence until a licence has been granted by the Home Office.

the BPS code in relation to animal studies highlight on the following

  • legislation - psychologists must conform to current legislation
  • choice of species - must be suited to the purpose of the research and should be aware of previous success
  • number of animals - smallest numers used
  • procedure - any procedure that may cause pain should be carefully evaluated and alternative considered. if studying in natural setting, should be minimum interference.
  • other issues - researchers should also be considered with the procurement of animals, housing and animal care, final disposal and the use of animals in researching.
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Bateson (1986) developed a system suitable for use by researchers in evalutating the use of non-human pps based upon:

  • quality of research
  • degree of animal suffering
  • certainty of benefit

a Bateson decision cube is for deciding whether a research project should proceed (clear space) or it shouldnt (solid). all facts must be high except animal suffering to use animals

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ethical arguments

+ ease human suffering (drug trials)

+ ethical guidelines are not applicable in the same way as humans (BPS)

+ animals have no emotions

+ 3 R's to protect them

- animals have an inherent value, so should be treated the same

- permanent behaviour changes (BPS and Animal Act)

- specieism (low order animals)

- animal rights

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scientific arguments

+ animals produce more quickly

+ results quickly obtained (fewer rules)

+ modern methods are less invasive

+comparatice psychology

- differences between humans and animals - physically impractical.

- animals may react differently to drugs (thalidomide)

- animals so feel pain (sneddon-fish)

- invetro - not as good as real thing

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