Ethics in research – Intro to Psychology

Ethics in research – Intro to Psychology


We’ve spent our time talking about research methods. But one crucial aspect we did not discuss in detail is ethics and psychology. It’s important to know that before any study is conducted, whether it’s with humans or animals. It must be approved by a federally mandated committee. For humans, it’s the Institutional Review Board. And for animals, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. All committee members must be trained and certified to serve. Let’s talk about the IRB. For humans, two important questions are asked regarding any research proposal. First is, should the study be done at all? Here, committee members are going to look at the risks versus the benefits of participating in that research. If committee members feel that the benefits outweigh the risks, the second question is asked. This is, what constitutes adequate informed consent? Here the experimenters have to tell the participants, exactly every step that they will need to complete throughout the experiment. Another important aspect of ethics in psychology is the right for the participant to leave the experiment at any time without negative consequences. Finally, once a participant has completed the experiment, it’s important to debrief that person. Meaning we have to let the person know what the purpose of the study was, and they have the right to ask any questions regarding the study. Some main points to remember about research ethics, are that we don’t want to put anybody in harms way. We don’t want to deceive anybody, unnecessarily and we must ensure participant’s privacy. Research ethics are fundamental in the study of psychology. In fact, ethics are the most important part of psychological research.

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