Research Methods: Ethical issues

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Ethical Issues

  • Ethical guidelines are formal principles for what is considered acceptable and unacceptable.
  • Must be followed in every study
  • Produced in the UK by the British Psychological Society.

They are important because:

1) Psychological research should aim to improve the quality of life for people.

2) Professional psychologists are expected to work in an ethical manner.

Ethical Guidelines:

1) Informed Consent

  • BPS guidelines say ppts should always give informed consent.
  • Informed consent can be gained by using a consent form which should include:
  • Objectives of the study
  • Details of what ppts would have to do
  • The length of time required
  • Opportunity for ppts to ask questions
  • Right to withdraw their data and themselves at any point during the investigation
  • Their data will remain confidential
  • The consent form should only be signed when ppt has read and understood what is required.
  • If the sample involves ppts who are children or with learning difficulties the experimenter has to ensure they have fully understood the requirements.
  • If the ppts is under 16 years old and they cannot give consent, it must be gained from a parent.
  • Naturalistic observations - consent is not obtained. The research


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