Ethical Issues in Psychology

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Ethics

Ethics are the moral codes laid down by professionals to ensure that their members or representatives adhere to certain standards of behaviour. All scientific bodies have such codes but those in psychology are particularly important because of the subject matter of the topic.
The three main ethical issues in psychology using human participants are: Privacy, physical and psychological harm and deception.
Deception involves either concealing the real intention of a study from participants or taking steps to mislead them at the start. Milgram used the second ploy, deliberately lying to participants about the genuine reason for a study. He also used stooges and the use of stooges always means deception has been used. However, is
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Zimbardo and Milgram procedures would all have involved loss of self-esteem, embarrassment, some stress and extreme anxiety. Confidentiality is one way of protecting participants from psychological harm. If you do something that you are ashamed of in the name of research but nobody gets to know its you its not going to be so embarrassing.
When dealing with privacy, the data protection act requires that the identity of all participants remains confidential. As well as safeguarding privacy there is an obvious practical benefit from this approach. Participants are unlikely to volunteer for procedures if they believe that their identity and behaviour will be divulged. There were clear breaches of confidentiality in the Milgram and Zimbardo studies as in both cases participants were secretly filmed. Guidelines require that participants are not identified unless they give their permission and various methods may be used to disguise their identity. For example in case studies patients may be identified only by their initials such as KF or HM.
An example of Ethics breached is: Schachter (1959) Female psychology students who had volunteered for an experiment were led to believe they were going to receive electric shocks. One group told it would be painful the other told it would not. There was going to be a delay before the shock, and participants had the choice of
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