Ethical considerations in psychological research
When conducting experiments with humans there are several strict guidelines researchers must follow:
Deception – a participant must not feel like he has been deceived, this can be dealt with using consent or a debriefing
Right to withdraw – The participant must know they can withdraw from the experiment at any point
Protection from harm – The participant must not be harmed in the experiment
Informed consent – The participant must give their consent that they want to participate in the study
Confidentiality – The participant must have the option of remaining anonymous or withdrawing their data from the findings
Privacy – The researcher must respect the participant’s privacy
Experiments with animals
The main reason for using animals is when we can’t use humans. However using animals in experiments provides different problems to humans, for example they obviously can’t tell us when they experience pain or harm.
The BPS has some guidelines that must be followed when using animals:
- The potential results must be important enough to justify the use of animals.
- The minimal amount of animals must be used
- Any discomfort must be helped with the use of pain killers for the animals
Russell and Birch came up with ‘3 Rs’ to explain these guidelines
Reduction – Use as minimal amount of animals
Replacement – Try and use alternate methods if possible
Refinement – Use improved techniques to reduce stress
Dealing with ethical issues
Bodies, such as the BPS, have been set up to decide whether a study can go ahead, and if they say it can’t but the researcher still continues it is also their responsibility to punish the researcher.