The Importance of Ethical Guidelines When Conducting Psychological Research
Ethical guidelines are concerns about the impact that research has on
the subjects. The effects can be both beneficial and harmful and so
the researcher must always think very carefully about how they ought
to behave so that no harm comes to the subjects.
In the 1960's the ethical aspect of research was barely considered
they were accepted as a way in which research was conducted. The need
to have some sort of guidelines to protect research subjects was
recognised in the 1970's, but it wasn't until 1990's that the first
set of ethical guidelines were published.
Ethical guidelines produced by the British Psychological Society (BPS)
for human subjects in the 1990's consisted of ten principles. Examples
of these are deception, the right to withdraw, and protection of
participants. These are all important when conducting psychological
research to make sure that the psychologists don't cause pain or
damage to their subjects as a result of their investigations.
Investigators must consider the ethical implications and psychological
consequences for the participants in their research in all
circumstances. The essential belief is that the investigation should
be considered from the point of view of all participants. Foreseeable
threats to their psychological well-being, health, values or dignity
should be removed. Investigators should recognise that, where
investigations involve individuals of different ages, gender and
social background, the investigators may not have enough knowledge of
the consequences of any investigation for the participants.
In the 1960's Stanley Milgram did an investigation into obedience to
authority. Milgram did a memory test where by volunteers would be the
teacher and an actor would be the learner. The leaner had to remember
pairs of words every time the learner got one wrong the teacher had to
administer an electric shock from 0 to 450 volts. All the participants
gave shocks to the learner however some went all the way to 450volts.
The ethical problems with this experiment were that it wasn't
emphasised that the volunteers had the right to withdraw from the
experiment anytime, should they wish to. The problem with this is that
volunteers could be come distressed. They also used deception in lots
of different ways for example they thought that the learner was
another volunteer when he was an actor and that the electric shocks
that they were administering weren't actually real. However he did
debrief the volunteers so they...