Psychology is the study of the human man. Psychologists study how our mind works in a normal manner – our thought process, our feelings and emotions. It is a complex branch of mental science that has helped us learn much about the human mind.
With psychology, there is a whole cauldron of ethical issues that must be considered. Our minds can be hugely fragile, and every person can react differently to psychological assessment/treatment. This is why ethics is so important – this article looks at some of the main ethical issues of psychology:
A patient/participant should have the right to withdraw
The right to withdraw is of the utmost importance. If a participant does not feel comfortable or pressured, they should be able to leave the study/process without any backlash. Furthermore, they should also be able to withdraw their results at any time if they do not want them to be used further.
A patient/participant should be protected from harm
This is a hugely difficult ethical issue to master – every person is different and everyone can react differently to a psychological analysis. That being said, a psychologist should always do their best to ensure no physical of mental harm comes to their patients.
The whole process should be confidential
Confidentiality is absolutely vital! Would you participate in a psychological study if you thought your private details were going to be broadcast to the world? Any results published must be anonymous unless you have the express permission of the participants.
Full consent must have been obtained beforehand
When creating a psychological study, you must be upfront and give participants informed consent. This means that you must disclose the true nature of the study and obtain their written signed permission beforehand. If you hide the true nature of the study or process, this may be viewed as unethical – even if you are hiding the nature to help your results.
As you can see, there are many ethical considerations in the field of psychology. Other important ethical considerations include debriefing (i.e. ensuring the participant has full knowledge of what they are participating in), and deception (ensuring that patients are never deceived during a psychological study).