WJEC A2 Psychology PY3 - Ways of Dealing with Ethical Issues

Notes for the Ways of Dealing with Ethical Issues iwhen using human participants essay in Section C of the PY3 exam

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Ways of Dealing with Ethical Issues - Debriefing

1. Deception = way of dealing = DEBRIEFING = after a study is completed, pps informed about true aims of study, reassured their results are within the normal range and given opportunity to ask qs; pps can also withdraw their data if they want

(+) debriefing is effective because it deals with issue of deception; if there is no deception in a study, results can be affected by demand characteristics; debriefing is a good solution to overcome using deception for more valid results

Example: Milgram (1963) sent qs and debriefed pps after the study of obedience finished, from qs, concluded that most pps were reassured by Milgram's debrief, finding 84% glad or v glad to have taken part; h/w 2% sorry or v sorry to have participated despite the debrief which suggests it didn't work = ineffective way of dealing with deception

(-) also, no amount of debriefing can undo any psych/phy harm sustained by participating; BPS have stated debriefing should never be used as justification for deception, but debriefing is absolute minimum requirement should deception occur; even during debriefing, psychological harm such as stress, embarrassment can occur, suggests debriefing is not an effective solution for dealing with deception

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Ways of Dealing - Presumptive Consent

2. Lack of Fully Informed Consent = way of dealing = PRESUMPTIVE CONSENT = when group similar to pps (like a focus group), but not actual pps, given the study proposal and asked if they would agree to participate in study hypothetically; if they do researchers presume consent of the real pps

(+) presumptive consent effective when informed consent may not be desirable to research, as pps may behave differently (demand characteristics) if they are informed about details of study beforehand which would cause less valid results

(-) h/w, consent of actual pps never assured no matter how similar 2 groups are, one can never guarantee the focus group's views representative of the actual pps group

Example: Milgram (1963) sought this consent in a sense when he surveyed 14 Yale Uni Psychology students before actually carrying out study; 14 believed no one would obey to 450 volts and therefore the pps would not expose themselves to any stress/harm; h/w 65% of actual pps went to 450 v and suffered psych/phy harm. Therefore sometimes presumptive consent isn't as effective as fully informed consent as focus group's views never guaranteed to reflect actual pps behaviour

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Ways of Dealing with Ethical Issues - Roleplay

3. Participant Protection from Physical/Psychological Harm = way of dealing = ROLEPLAY = where group of pps act in a way you would expect real pps to behave to avoid causing any harm if a real study was conducted

(+) avoids causing any real psych/phy harm to an actual group of pps but still gaining some valid results

Example: Mixon (1972) replicated Milgram's study with roleplay where the pps had to behave as if the electric shocks were real to see how obedient the pps were; found similar levels of obedience to Milgram's original study (50%), shows effectiveness of roleplay without pps experiencing stress or harm like in Milgram's study

(-) however Example: Zimbardo (1973) also used roleplay to determine how effective prisons are and how prisoners/guards behave; but the 2 week study was stopped after 6 days due to concerns over prisoner's welfare - suggests that even roleplays can't avoid causing psych/phy harm and doesn't guarantee a safe, ethical study

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Ways of Dealing - Ethical Guidance

4. ETHICAL GUIDELINES = voluntary codes of conduct often proposed by governing bodies (BPS) within a country which are supposed to provide advice/guidance to researchers on the important moral rules and boundaries of research

(+) provide general guidance about how researchers should conduct themselves when faced with common moral dilemmas eg avoiding deception

(+) a way of dealing with the 'barbaric research' of the past eg Mangele's research on twins in Nazi Germany, in order to ensure it never occurs in the future

(-) however it is impossible to have a definitive list of all possible moral issues that could occur on every piece of research

(-) some guidelines are vague, contradictory and impossible to follow in practice eg deception should be avoided, but can be necessary, and so guidelines accept pps should be debriefed

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Ways of Dealing - Ethical Committees

5. ETHICAL COMMITTEES = panel of people who listen/view research proposals and carry out a costs benefits analysis of whether it should go ahead or not

(+) a way of ensuring that any ethical issues overlooked by researcher are identified and dealt with, also ensure some of the issues identified by researchers dealt with appropriately (double checking decisions) by carrying out costs benefits analyses

(-) h/w costs benefits analyses flawed as based on 'Utilitarian Principles', where decision about how much someone benefits and associated costs of the benefits is subjective and may vary between committees - some quite unpleasant studies conducted on a minority of people to benefit a large majority of people

(-) difficult to predict costs and benefits before a study has been conducted

Example: Case Study of Genie Curtiss (1977) stopped early due to conflict between what was most beneficial: research or welfare of Genie, which eventually had to be settled in court; shows how difficult it is to make a judgement about costs benefits of research on pps and conflict between what is in the best interest for the pps and for society

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Ways of Dealing with Ethical Issues - Punishments

6. PUNISHMENTS = (of members of professional bodies from the BPS) if a person does break an ethical guideline, professional body may suspend/exclude member from researching in the country in which they are a member

(+) exclusion or suspension from a professional body means the person may lose their job and therefore their livelihood, acts as a deterrent for others researching and prevents them from continuing to break ethical guidelines

(-) however, the person in theory could simply move to another country and continue practising there, or self-fund their own research

Example: Paul Cameron (1983) was excluded from the APA for deliberately misinterpreting data from research to support his anti-gay theories; regardless between 1978 - 2005, he self published 39 articles which questions the effectiveness of punishments - but they do work to an extent because of the damaged reputation (professional bodies may not take Cameron's findings seriously) and consequences (loss of job, difficult financial situation) surrounding the exclusion from a professional body

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