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This page is concerned with ethical guidelines in Psychological research. Ethics are a set of moral principles and values that are used in Psychological research to make sure participants are treated fairly. In the past, guidlines for research was less strict by nowadays it is one of the most important issues when planning research.

They are important because, unlike other sciences, Psychology is primarily about humans, and unlike bacteria or chemicals who don't care what you do to them; people have feelings.


The British Psychological Society (BPS) publishes ethical guidelines, and below is a summary of these. They catagorise them under four main areas and within these are relevant issues.

General respect Respect individuals and do not be prejudiced based on any differences (race, sexuality, language etc).

Privacy Keep as little personal information as possible and ensure this is kept confidential.

Informed Consent Participants should be asked permission to take part beforehand and fully informed (as far as possible without giving away the experiment aim) about what and why they are doing.
Researcher should be proffesional and have an understanding of ethical guidlines.

You need to recognize and be aware of ethical dilemas throughout the research.

Also need to be aware of the limitations that ethics places on the experiment.
Protecting participants to avoid harm to particpants whether that be psychological (stress, anxiety) or physical and don't use financial reward to make them do something they wouldn't otherwise.

Termination Particpants have the right to leave an experiment at any time and should be made fully aware of this.

Debrief At the end of their particpation, information the subjects of the aim and purpose of the experiment and clear up any problems so particpants are completely happy.
Be honest and accurate in everything you say and do not misinterpret anything.

Don't try and influence the results in any way because of any particular interest.

Further Information

If you need any more information about ethics in Psychology then have a look at the following: British Psychological Society American Psychological Association Australian Psychological Society

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