Ethical Procedures and Guidelines Defining Psychological Research

Psychological research is often a very controversial subject among experts.
Many people feel that there are many moral standards that are often not followed.
Others may believe that there is much harmful misinformation that can often be
harmful to subject and others. Still others believe that psychology is a lot of
theories without any reinforcing information. Whether any of these assumptions
may be true or not, there have been guidelines created which serve to silence
many critics of the science. These guidelines make research safe and structured,
which will protect the subjects from unnecessary harm.
As psychology advances, there is seen a need for more rules and
regulations for the ensurement of subject comfort. Hence, there are many more
rules now than even twenty years ago. These rules really encompass a few broad
but very important ideas. One of these ideas is protecting the dignity of the
subjects. Another important component of this code refers to consent. All of
these will be explained in greater detail below. Another gray area in
psychology lies in the deception of subjects. There are some basic rules
guiding how deceptions can be carried out. There is a large section of the code
that was made with regards to animal research. The last major section of the
ASA ethical guidelines has to do with giving credit where credit is due, and
information sources. All of these regulations make research safer for the
subjects and increase the effectively of psychological research.
In psychological research, protecting subjects dignity is very important.
Without willing subjects the research process would be brought to a halt. In
order to protect the subjects\' dignity, the lab experiments must be well
prepared, and ethically appropriate. Only subjects who are targeted should be
affected, and if a large number of people are to be affected, psychologists
should consult experts on that specific group. Psychologists are to be held
directly responsible for the ethics that are utilized during the experiment.
In addition to this psychologists are bound by the normal, governmental laws
concerning research. In addition to these regulations concerning the law and
standards, psychologists are required to inform subjects of the basic procedure
that they will be agreeing to. This flows into the idea of informed consent.
Informed consent means basically that the subject must be informed of
the basic procedure that they will be agreeing to. There should not be any
variations from the agreed upon plan. Whenever there is a doubt about whether
or not informed consent is necessary , an institution or expert in the area of
the subjects should be consulted. One complicating factor in this sector is
deception in research. In order to conduct certain experiments, it is helpful
to psychologists to deceive the participants, with respect to exactly which
experiment is being performed upon them. The rules concerning this are
effective, but (necessarily) rather vague. First of all, psychologists are
never supposed to use deception unless no other alternative of method for the
experiment at hand is available. The deception cannot be in a manner that would
affect the participants\' decision to participate. And any deception that takes
place should always be explained as soon as possible, after the experiment has
reached its conclusion.
In order to preserve subjects dignity, the information about the
experiment that the subjects have participated in should be made available to
the subjects as soon as possible. This includes, the exact nature of the
experiment, the results , and the conclusions of the experiment. This will
probably have been already agreed upon by the experimenter and the subject, but
just in case, the experimenters are required to honor all commitments made to
the subject. This improves the credibility of the whole science, as a whole.
When the subjects are not human, there are still rules governing the
treatment of such subjects. These pertain mostly to protecting the (relative)
comfort of these subjects during experimentation. Basically, when experimenting
upon animals, basic care procedures must be followed. When anesthetic or
euthanasical procedures are to be used, they must be carried out in a fashion
that will be both professional and comfortable to the subjects. Obviously, the
procedures that can be carried out upon animals are more drastic than those on
humans because there is no informed consent involved in the study of animals,
and the procedures can be justified because the results are purportedly supposed
to assist in the betterment of the human race.
The last area of ASA code lies in reporting information. The natural
plagiarism laws are, as always, in effect. This is in addition to many precise