2.3—ethics in psychological research Flashcards Preview

🚫 PSY100H1: Introduction to Psychology (Winter 2016) with J. Vervaeke > 2.3—ethics in psychological research > Flashcards

Flashcards in 2.3—ethics in psychological research Deck (9)
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2.3 Learning Objectives

  • know the key terminology of research ethics.
  • understand the importance of reporting and storing data.
    • making data public allows scientific peers as well as the general public to have access to the details of research studies.
    • this information includes details about participants, the procedures they experienced, and the outcomes of the study.
    • storing data allows fellow researchers to verify reports as well as to examine the study for any possible misconduct (which is rare).
  • understand why animals are often used in scientific research.
    • many research questions that affect medical and public health cannot be answered without animal testing.
    • ethical considerations may not allow such research to be conducted on human subjects.
    • scientists can control genetic and environmental variables that cannot be controlled with humans.
  • apply the ethical principles of scientific research to examples.
  • analyze the role of using deception in psychological research.
    • fully disclosing the purpose of a study before people participate in it would render the results useless.
    • when deception of any kind is used, researchers must justify that the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs.


2.3 Focus

  • which institutional safeguards are now in place to protect the well-being of research participants?
  • does all research today require that people be informed of risks and consent to participate in a study?


Research Ethics Board (REB)

  • research ethics board (REB): a committee of researchers and officials at an institution charged with the protection of human research participants.
  • if you read reports from an American institution, they will refer to Institutional Review Boards (IRBs); these are the same thing as REBs.
  • REBs ensure that researchers abide by the ethical rules set out in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (2nd edition).
  • the committee weighs potential risks to the volunteers against the possible benefits of the research.
  • it requires that volunteers agree to participate in the research (i.e. they give informed consent).


Informed Consent

  • informed consent: a potential volunteer must be informed (know the purpose, tasks, and risks involved in the study) and give consent (to agree to participate based on the information provided) without pressure. (figure 2.5)
  • to be truly informed about the study, volunteers should be told, at minimum, the following details:
    • the topic of the study.
    • the nature of any stimuli (e.g. images, sounds, smells) to which they’ll be exposed.
    • the nature of any tasks (e.g. tests, puzzles) they’ll complete.
    • the approximate duration of the study.
    • any potential physical, psychological, or social risks involved.
    • the steps that the researchers have taken to minimize those risks.
  • modern psychological research includes the following elements in determining whether full consent is given:
    • freedom to choose.
    • equal opportunity.
    • the right to withdraw.
    • the right to withhold responses.



misleading or only partially informing participants of the true topic or hypothesis under investigation.



after the research study, the researchers should explain the true nature of the study, and especially the nature of and reason for the deception. 


Why are animals used in scientific research?

there are several reasons why animals are used in research:

  • the study of psychology does include the behaviour of animals.
  • scientists can administer treatments to animals that can’t be applied to humans.
  • e.g. lesioning (damaging) specific areas of the brain in order to examine the resulting behavioural impairments.
  • genetic research requires species with short life spans so that several successive generations can be observed.
  • scientists can manipulate the breeding of laboratory animals to meet the needs of their experimental procedures.
  • selective breeding allows researchers to study similar groups of subjects, which helps control for individual differences based on genetic factors.
  • there are not enough people with certain diseases for trial-and-error-type testing to occur.


Criticisms of Using Animals in Experiments

  • our brains are more complex; how valid is it to assume that treatments that change an animal’s behaviour will benefit humans? if this isn’t guaranteed, is it ethical to use animal subjects in this way?
  • we are just beginning to understand the specific brain areas related to different conditions; if we’re unclear of the human biology involved in the human version of the disease, how accurate can the resulting animal models really be?
  • you can’t see certain symptoms of many diseases; unlike humans, you can’t just ask the animals how they’re feeling, either.


Ethical Collection, Storage, and Reporting of Data

  • the purpose of keeping data for a lengthy period relates to the public nature of good research.
  • other researchers may request access to the data to reinterpret it, or perhaps examine the data before attempting to replicate the findings.
  • scientific misconduct: when individuals fabricate or manipulate their data to fit their desired results.

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