Understanding Ethics In Research

Psychology is a science.  It utilizes the following research methods in order to formulate, test, and refine hypotheses regarding human behavior:

  • case study
  • naturalistic observation
  • survey
  • correlational study
  • Experiment

In all the above, Psychological researchers are guided by the Ethics put forth by the American Psychological Association (APA) . These requirements are:

  1. Informed consent.  Participants must be informed about the nature of the research as well as be informed of the results at the conclusion of the study. After being informed about the nature of the research, the participants must CONSENT to participate in the study
  2. Right to Withdraw. Participants have the right to withdraw from the study as well as withdraw their results at any time.
  3. Protection of Participants.  Participants cannot be caused distress or harm.
  4. Cannot DECEIVE the participants. Some deception may be necessary, but it should be minimal.
  5. Confidentiality. The participants names must be held confidential and may not be publicized in any way until after death.

ONe of the principles of psychology is that there are correlates between animal behavior and human behavior. Thus, animals are often used to inform psychological research. There are ethical guidelines for animals treatment as well:

“The acquisition, care, housing, use, and disposition of nonhuman animals in research must be in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local, laws and regulations, institutional policies, and with international conventions to which the United States is a party. APA members working outside the United States must also follow all applicable laws and regulations of the country in which they conduct research.”

Read the following article on the controversial use of Monkeys in Animal Research at the University of Wisconsin Madison:


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