PY3 Dealing with ethical issues in Human Participants

  • Created by: Kathryn
  • Created on: 28-05-14 21:39

Informed concent

An ethical issues is a problem that arises in research when there are conflicting sets of values concerning the goals, procedures or outcomes of a research study. 

Informed Concent                                                                                                            The opportunity to know all aspects of the research before taking part.

This is an issues as it can comprise the integrity of the study (knowing the full aims of the study may alter participants behavior). IC is important in cases where there may be issues of harm because participants would not have had the opportunity to decline to participate. 

Example - Milgram (1963) study into obedience, experienced great distress but arguably did not have opportunity to decline. In studies where harm is not a issue (memory studies) informed concent is less of an issue.

1 of 4


Deception is where participants aren't made aware of the full aims and procedures of the study. 

Is an important ethical issue, should only be conducted when circumstances excuse it. This is a recommendation made by the BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct. Is especially an issue as lack of honesty prevents p's from giving informed concent. 

Example - Rosenhan (1973) hospital staff were deceived about nature of pseudopatients. May have led them to be mistrustful of patients and not offer best treatment.

Affect on results - without deception it is arguable that results for studies that have provided us with new insights into behavior much like Rosenhan will have not have been possible, as making the nurses aware would of dramatically hindered the validity of the results, they would'nt of been able to run the study. 

2 of 4

Right to Withdraw

This is the right to every participant to refuse to continue with participation in a study if they are uncomfortable in any way. Also refuse permition for researcher to any data produced before they withdrew. 

This is an issue as there are various circumstances where participants feel they cannot withdraw. 

Example - Many studies such as Asch's study into conformity or Loftus and Palmer's investigation into memory of events use students who receive course credits for participation in the study. They may feel tey cant withdraw due to this.                              

Other factors including social-desirability bias and demand characteristics can hinder participants want to withdraw. 

3 of 4

Protection from Harm and the BPS.

A participants right not to experience physiological or psychological harm. 

Is an issue as it isnt always possible to anticipate whether a participant will experience harm until the study has been carried out. 

Example - Zimbado's stanford prison study, no one was able to estimate the psychological cost of the study. 


Produces an ethical guidance for research psychologists as well as practising psychologists. the code is based on four ethical principles

 - Respect: value the dignity and worth of all persons                                                              - Competence: Must value continuing development and maintainance of high standards    - Responibility: Must value the profession of psychology as a sceince.                                  - Integrity: Must value honesty, accuarcy and fairness in their interactions with people.

4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Research methods and techniques resources »