Course: PG 601 Ethics and Problems of Professional and Scientific Psychology
Quarter: Fall, 1998
Meeting Times: Monday 8:00 - 10:00
Location: Thach 210
Instructor: Christopher Newland, Ph.D.
Office Hours: By appointment or drop in.
Text: - Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. You may obtain a free copy of this by calling the APA at (202) 336-5500. It might help to he brochure The APA Science Directorate.
- On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research. 2nd edition.
- Reprints available from a copy shop (American Speedy Print at University and Glenn).
In this course we review materials pertaining to the ethics surrounding the science and practice of psychology. The ethics pertaining to teaching are covered in the Teaching of Psychology course. The course is divided into three sections. In one section we examine the social context in which research is conducted: authorship, mentoring, the peer-review process, and how the scientific community deals with charges of misconduct. During another section we examine issues pertinent to the collection of data. Behavioral research must be conducted with behaving organisms and these usually involve human or nonhuman vertebrates. Each group is protected by legal, ethical, and moral codes and we will examine some representative situations to which they apply. In a third section we examine issues pertinent to the application of psychology. I will invite people who work in applied areas to help out with this section. The guests have recommended readings and will lead discussions.
My goals are to raise issues common to all class members as consumers, producers, and appliers of research and to provide the resources required to address the these issues in an ethically informed manner. No course can cover all circumstances that you are likely to encounter, but a successful course can frame ethical issues, separate them from other domains (legal, ethical, or moral for example), provide information about how to think about an ethical dilemma and where to look for guidance. I also hope to provide some background so that the guidelines under which we work do not seem arbitrary: usually they are not.
This course will be the only forum in which you will encounter some of the topics to be discussed but will only be the beginning for others. I have attempted to make the coverage sufficiently general that it will be useful for either situation. For example, a minority of the students in this class will conduct research with animals but, as psychologists, all will use research that has been conducted with animals. Accordingly, we will describe how research with nonhuman species is conducted, the value of this research, what the consequences would be of eliminating such research, and the legal, moral, and ethical issues that have been raised, and confused, in this domain. These are topics that all psychologists should be familiar with. The particulars of federal legislation or the filling out of IACUC (Institutional Animal Care And Use Committee) forms will be left to the mentors of students who must fill out such forms. Similarly, only some of the class members need to know about issues related to applied psychology or clinical practice but as psychologists you should know some of the larger considerations surrounding service-delivery and application. We will cover important areas pertaining to the delivery of services and the ethical treatment of clients and colleagues, but there is much that will be omitted. Those of you who foresee a career in applied or clinical psychology will have opportunities through vertical teams, behavior analysis supervision, and courses such as Introduction to Clinical Methods to address situations as they arise.
Course Structure and Evaluation. The class will be divided into three groups and each group will be responsible for managing the coverage of a topic as we go through them. What this entails will vary depending on the particular topics, but some general expectations are that the group will provide background on the topic, describe relevant ethical or other principles, and specify what principles apply to the case studies. Many of the group responsibilities involve oral presentation of materials and case studies: I expect this responsibility to be passed around among group members. However, I do not expect each group member to be part of each formal oral presentation. On your summary statement you should specify who was responsible for each component of the presentation.
Your grade will be based on attendance, class participation (quantity
and quality), and the performance of your group, including presentations,
summary statements, attendance, and class participation.
Note that two groups have been assigned to cover the topics surrounding human experimentation. These two groups need to coordinate coverage of the many topics that should be covered: The Helsinki Declaration (as background), informed consent; deception; special populations; risk/benefit; coercion; protection from discomfort, harm, or injury; confidentiality; debriefing.
We will have several guest presenters. Some will present lectures, some may lead discussions and some may come with case studies. We will extend the courtesy to the guests of permitting them to manage their material as they feel is most appropriate.
Academic Honesty. Cheating is theft and a betrayal of the good-faith required for higher education to function. Cheating will not be tolerated. The policies established in the Tiger Cub will serve as guidelines for dealing with dishonesty, misconduct, or plagiarism.
Schedule: The schedule is on the next page.
Some Useful Definitions1:
Ethics. 1.a. A set of principles of right conduct. b. A theory or a system of moral values. 3. The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession. [< Gk thos, character]
Ethical. 1.a. Of, or relating to, or dealing with ethics. Being in accordance with the accepted principles that govern the conduct of a profession.
Moral. 1. Of or concerned with the judgement of the goodness or badness of human action and character; ethical. 3. Conforming to standards of what is right or just in behavior; virtuous. 4. Arising from conscience or the sense of right or wrong. [< Latin ms, mr, custom]
Legal. 1. Of, relating to, or concerned with law. 2.a. Authorized by or based on law. b. Established by law; statutory. 3. In conformity with or permitted by law. < Latin lglis. Law.
Syns: moral, ethical, virtuous, righteous. These adjectives mean in accord with right or good conduct.
Moral applies to personal character and behavior, especially sexual conduct. "patience, that blending of moral courage with physical timidity" (Thomas Hardy)
Ethical, stresses idealistic standards of right or wrong. "Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants" (Omar N. Bradley.
Virtuous implies moral excellence and loftiness of character. "The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous" (Frederick Douglass)
Righteous, emphasizes moral upright; when it is applied to actions, reactions or impulses it often implies justifiable outrage. "He was ... stirred by righteous wrath" (John Galsworthy)
1These definitions come from The American
Heritage College Dictionary. 3rd Edition, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
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24. State of Alabama, Act Number 98-146, . 1998.
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