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Chapter 3: Research Ethics

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Michael Brown

on 25 August 2015

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Transcript of Chapter 3: Research Ethics

Ethics in Behavioral Research
The term
, describes appropriate human
action in areas such as business, medicine, health, religion, and research

Research ethics
is used to identify the actions
that a researcher must take to conduct
responsible and moral research:
- Anticipate what will happen
- React to what's happening
- Reflect on what happened
The Need for Ethics
Nazi medical experiments in concentration
camps during World War II

From 1945 to 1947, the individuals and responsible were tried in international courts

The verdict from this trial included a
section called Permissible Medical
Experiments, which has come to be
known as the Nuremburg Code
The Belmont Report
Belmont Report (published in 1979) – recommends
three principles for the ethical conduct of research with human participants:

Respect for persons
: individuals have the capacity
to participate, have the ability to comprehend their
potential role in a research study, and are free of
: minimize the risks and maximize
the benefits of participating in research
: equality and fairness in the
treatment of participants
IRBs and APA Code of Conduct
Federal regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and standards published in the APA Code of Conduct, include and extend the principles of the Belmont

- Under HHS regulations (2007), every
institution receiving federal funding
must have an institutional review
APA Code of Conduct
The APA has adopted a method of assessing
risk in its publication of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (APA, 2010). This code extends the ethical principles in the
Belmont Report to include two others:
- Fidelity and responsibility
- Integrity

Scientific Integrity

Scientific integrity
– Extent to which a
researcher is honest and truthful in his/her
actions, values, methods, measures, and dissemination of research

Reporting research results:
- Truthfully report data and never fabricate
research results
- If a researcher makes a mistake, they
must correct the mistake as soon as
the mistake is discovered
Research Ethics
Robbers Cave
Sherif (1964): The aim was to study prejudice
and intergroup conflict

The camp was created to manipulate prejudice. The
manipulation worked and groups were aggressive
toward each other

To resolve ethical concerns of fostering prejudice
in children, researchers tried to eliminate
prejudice before camp ended by requiring the
two groups work together for a shared goal

Obedience Studies
Milgram (1960's): conducted research on
obedience and authority:
- 100% of participants shocked the learner up to
300 volts
- 65% of participants shocked the learner to the
maximum 450 volts

The ethical concern involved the significant stress
placed on the participant

To alleviate the stress caused, Milgram
debriefed participants at the end of
the experiment

Stanford Prison Study
Philip Zimbardo (1971) conducted the Stanford
Prison Study to examine how social roles influence behavior

The guards became aggressive whenever a prisoner
was disobedient. Prisoners faced increased
psychological and physical harm as the guards’
actions progressed

Ethical concern was for the welfare of
the participants - particularly the
Institutional Review Board (IRB): Review
board with at least five members, one of
whom comes from outside the institution

Research protocol: A proposal submitted by a
researcher to an IRB, outlining the details of a
study he or she wishes to complete and how
he or she will address potential ethical

Only upon approval is a researcher
allowed to conduct his or her
Steps involved
When institutional approval is required
by the IRB, researchers must do the
- Provide accurate information concerning
the proposed program of research
- Obtain approval from an IRB before
conducting the research
- Conduct the research in accordance with
the approved version of the research


Informed consent
– A signed or verbal
agreement in which participants state they
are willing to participate in a research study
after being informed of all aspects of their role
in the study

– The consent of a minor or other
legally incapable person to agree to
participate in research only after receiving
an appropriate explanation in reasonably
understandable language
Participants must be informed of the
- Purpose of the research
- Expected duration and procedures used
- The right to decline or withdraw at any time
- Potential risks of participation
- Limits of confidentiality
- Incentives of participation
- Information for whom to contact with
regard to any questions

Additional guidelines for preparing and
writing an informed consent form:
- Avoid exculpatory language
- Avoid technical jargon
- Write like you are speaking to the participant
- Use black, nonitalicized, 11-point (or larger)
font throughout the form
- For participants requiring or requesting a
translator, one must be provided to them

Withholding info
To minimize bias and ensure integrity of
the data collected, it is sometimes permissible
to initially exclude information in an informed
consent form

The researcher cannot tell the whole truth, which
is often accomplished by holding information
that is critical to a research hypothesis

Sometimes a cover story might be used
to distract participants from the
true purpose of the study
Incentives can include money, gift cards,
or entry into prize drawing

Researchers should avoid offering excessive or inappropriate incentives that are likely to coerce

If the incentive is large enough, participants
may participate in a study because the
“payoff is too good to pass up” even
when their actual intention would
be to decline participation
When participants are deliberately
misled about the purpose or nature of a
research study

Can be active (deliberately untruthful) or passive
(omission of key information about a study)

For IRB to approve the use of deception:
- The deception is necessary
- There is no expectation for causing
pain or severe emotional distress
- Participants are informed of the
deception asap
The full disclosure to participants of
the true purpose of the study, and is
typically given at the end of the study.

As part of the debriefing, the researcher must:
- Answer participant questions and address
any misconceptions or concerns
- Reduce risk or harm to participants
- Protect participants if or when the research
becomes aware that research procedures
have harmed the participant
Identity of Participants

– The identity of a participant
remains unknown throughout the study,
even to those involved in a study

– The identity of a participant is
not made available to anyone who is not directly
involved in a study. Those involved in a study,
however, are able to identify participant

Research with Animals
Many behavioral researchers study animals

- Entire life of an animal can be controlled
from birth to death
- Can breed animals to control genetic
- Can control an animal’s environment
Protections for the use of animals in
research actually have a longer history than
protections afforded to humans

To protect animals in research, a research study must be reviewed and approved by an institutional animal care and use committee

IACUC: consists of at least one veterinarian,
one scientist with experience using
animals, and one member from
the community

- An individual’s use of someone
else’s ideas or work that is represented as the
individual’s own ideas or work

Publication credit
- All individuals who make substantial contributions to a work must be recognized as authors of that work; those who make
minor contributions should also be recognized

Duplicate publication of data
- The same work
should not be published twice without
recognition of what is being repubished
and why

Sharing research data for verification -

Researchers are expected to share their data
upon request from others for the purposes of
inspection, reanalysis, and replication

- Researchers can submit their work to a scientific
journal where their peers review their work
- Peer reviewers can sometimes have access to
information that should be protected
- APA code of conduct requires peer reviewers
to respect the confidentiality and propriety
rights of those who submit their work
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