Psychology: Ethics & Research Participant Protection - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1818 Words
Date:  2023-01-18


Psychology defines ethics as the conduct correct rules needed in the time of conducting research. Research psychologists have the moral obligation to ensure research participants are protected from any harm either following deception in the process of research or sexual boundary violations. It relates with the case study, for instance how the research psychologist A shows interest for an intimate relationship with the participant M. Ethics, on the contrary, requires the psychologists to respect the dignity and rights of the research participants. In other words, it merely calls for them to abide by the rules of conduct and specific moral principles acknowledged in the APA Ethics Code (Cottone & Claus, 2000). The main essay objective is that it will address ethical issues while presenting options to resolve the ethical conflict while considering individual perceptions, needs, potential and motivation of involved parties, in this case, the psychologist and participant.

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Boundary Violation

The ethical conflict in the scenario between the research psychologist and the participant is that of boundary violation. The research psychologist violates the boundary existing between them from just the thought of wanting an intimate relationship with the participant. It is unethical causing boundary violations explicitly as stated in the code of ethics and the general standards. The ethical standards require psychologists not to engage in sexual relations with participants whom they have direct authority to, as such ties have the probability of impairing judgment or in the end becoming exploitative. Dual relationships and violation of the boundary would have the two faced with challenges as it compromises the professional practice and conduct of the psychologist and research participant. The psychologist and research participant are in a situation referred to as multiple relationships since they seem to want to know each other differently by becoming romantic partners. The two seem to put themselves in a problematic situation; as such relations have been reported significantly in recent years to the American Psychological Association Ethics Committee particularly involving "instances of blurred boundaries" (American Psychological Association, 2016). The scenario according to the ethical standards is a conflict of interest, and the psychologist should refrain getting into dual relationships if it impairs competence, objectivity, or his performance effectiveness.

Options for Resolving Ethical Conflicts

Ethical principles establish ethic codes to govern any profession in guiding the members' conduct. The APA Code of Ethics has proscription, which is against the situation of dual relationships. From the interpersonal perceptions is that dual relationships are to be avoided. However, evidence from studies shows it is one objective that psychology professions have strived to achieve; unfortunately, it has been impossible to avoid it altogether, as seen from the case study. The ethical principles under the APA recognize "multiple relationships" that psychologists may not be reasonable or feasible to avoid the non-professional contact with persons like participants. Nonetheless, it heeds against getting into such intimate relations if there are possibilities that it impairs the adequate performance of the psychologist or his objectivity. In such an ethical dilemma concerning multiple or dual relationships, an ethical decision-making model comes in hand to help the psychologists. Ethical decision-making problems have so far been addressed from two models that have the inclusion of the interpersonal perceptions, a four-component model of moral behavior that was in 1983 proposed by Rest (Sanderse, 2015). It is a model that comprises the whole ethical action process. The first component is recognizing the existence of the moral problem, with the next giving reasons concerning the issue, to the choice of a right course and ultimately acting. Later in 1990 was the proposition of the other model to use in ethical decision making, the five-dimensional frameworks for defensible decisions. The two models happen to be on the bases of ethics theories, professional code of ethics, and personal professional identity to resolve boundary violations.

The other consideration that influences the options for resolving boundary violation similarly as is the case with Research psychologist A and the participant M. It is according to Kitchener, a scholar whose suggestion would be to assess the boundary appropriateness by utilizing the three guidelines that predict the level of damage the multiple relationships creates. Kitchener arguments were role conflict occurs if the one role expectations involve the behavior or actions that appear incompatible with the other role (Ling & Hauck, 2017). The three guidelines to look out in resolving the ethical conflict of boundary violation are:

  • Professional expectations, together with those they serve, becoming more incompatible, increasing the potential for harm.
  • Obligations linked to the roles becoming more divergent, thus raising the risks of divided loyalty and objectivity loss.
  • The extent of prestige and power of the psychologist A exceeding that of the participant M, thereby heightening the potential for exploitation.

Ethical Decision-Making Technique

Ethical decision-making technique is one of the preferred options for resolving the conflict of boundary violation. The Kitchener model of ethical decision making is the best because from it an individual would make a moral decision based on the matter at hand and facts of the issue dictating the ethical principles, rules, and theories that apply to the decision. Besides, it is the best option because it also differentiates ethical norms and the policies from the idea that moral codes do not adequately handle all ethical conflicts, as is the case with the research psychologist and the participant ethical conflict. Consequently, the ethical decision-making framework is the best option as it incorporates the five ethical principles to follow. It is the moral principle that has the ethical decision making address the needs, potential, and motivations of the involved parties, the research psychologist, and the participant. The ethical principles are:

Respecting autonomy, for the case study, both parties are to consider the first moral principle of respecting autonomy prior decision making (Page, 2012). In this case, the research psychologist should act as a free agent, thus have the research participant owning the right to make decisions; however, they see it befits them.

Doing no harm, it is an ethical principle that both the research psychologist and participant should consider when faced with such an ethical conflict. In this case, both are to consider individuals needs before the decision-making process as in doing so; they practice the doing no harm principle. It is a vital principle important in making an ethical decision to the conflict at hand.

Benefiting others, according to the case study, both individual needs are at stake; for instance, the research psychologist wants an intimate relationship, whereas the research participant needs the services of the psychologist. The ethical decision making addresses the principle of benefiting others whereby all are to promote every person well being involved in the conflict, thus balancing the potential of either good or bad. It is a decision making between the two; therefore, all individuals' considerations are to be taken heed to alongside minding both well beings.

Being just, it is the principle that would ensure in the ethical situation as is the case of the research psychologist and the participant in coming up with the right decision then both involved have their rights balanced.

Being faithful, it is appropriate the research psychologist and participant are trustworthy; in that case, the psychologist wanting the intimate relationship with the participant has to respect the rights of the participant and keep the promise of waiting until the study is complete for them to have the relationship.

Future Recommendations

The Research psychologist A in the future should take on the following steps to avoid a repetition of the situation similarly as is the case study. The first option would be at all times adhering to the ethical principles governing the professional ethics codes, which are Beneficence principle, respect for autonomy, benefiting others, being just and faithful. The general principles, unlike the ethical standards incorporating them in decision making as a psychologist in the future, would work best in guiding towards achieving moral ideals of the highest degree in his profession. Additionally, the general principles would not represent what he is obliged to do and not act as a basis to impose a sanction, but the principles will instead serve to benefit both individuals, in this case, the psychologist together with his participant.

A point to note is that with boundary violations efforts may have been put in place to prevent them, but they still occur, it is just appropriate research psychologists in the future opt to reduce on its severity and frequency. It could be by encompassing the 7-Step Path in making ethical decisions even in the future (Miner & Petocz, 2003). The steps will eventually help them come up with moral distinctions amidst options that seem competitive when in an ethical conflict like from the case study. Therefore, for better decisions by the research psychologists A he would require following the seven steps as listed:

It is appropriate to initially begin by stopping and thinking of the ethical conflict at hand; It comes along with so many benefits like hindering quick decisions thus will eventually prepare the psychologist for even more thoughtful judgment, therefore, allow him the chance to mobilize his discipline.

Make clarifications of his goals, either long term or short term goals. The research psychologist in the future would have to determine his of his many wants impacted by the decision-making process to avoid a similar situation.

Have the capacity to determine facts, and in supportive of an intelligent choice, it is recommended the research psychologist to ensure he has enough information thus make verifications to any existing assumptions or uncertainty. For instance, in the case study, it involves both parties therefore in the future to avoid such situations they are all to be considerate of any information or facts they provide in support of the decision making process.

In the future, the research psychologist should be able to develop options; thus, then he would have the capacity to make the best judgment as according to the applicable information. It is with a list of actions that would assure psychologists in the future achieve the set goals and in instances of an ethical conflict like the case study a suggestion would be to broaden their perceptive by speaking of the issue to others or opt to come up with new choices

Research psychologist A, can in the future also incorporate the step of making consideration of the consequences by filtering choices thus dictate if the options developed is a violation to the core ethical codes, therefore, do away with the unethical options. For instance, from the case study, the psychologist could have considered the consequences to eliminate the wrong options of deciding to want an intimate relationship even after the completion of the study.

The act of deciding, the research psychologist in the future can ensure the choices made are clear, if not get peoples' perceptions regarding the ethical conflict at hand, make comparisons by self-assessing whether if another party was in the situation what they would have done or would the...

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Psychology: Ethics & Research Participant Protection - Essay Sample. (2023, Jan 18). Retrieved from

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