Ethical Principles of Psychology

ethical principles of psychology

Ethics are some set of moral principles. These moral principles tell about what is right, what is wrong, what is good or what bad behaviour is. So ethics serves a key topic be studies in the psychological researches.  Ethical principles of Psychologydirect what should be focused in regards to ethics during a research. There are various codes of conducts in psychological researches which guides the psychologists while conducting any psychological research keeping in mind that there should be no chance of violence of any type of ethical norms or principles. The APA (American Psychological Association) has defined many codes of conduct and psychological behaviour for the psychologists. These rules and ethical principles mandatory for the human/social welfare.

Ethical Principles of Psychology: Code of Conduct and Behavioural Moral

The code of conduct and behavioural moral principals should be kept into consideration as psychologists need to respect the dignity and worth of the individual. During the research no fundamental human rights should be violated, these must be preserved and protected. As psychology deals with the study of human behaviour, so there is risk of fundamental human violence, as no one will ever want to be interfered into his personal or social protocol.


Though there are several rules and regulations which are to be focused.  APAhas defined five general ethical principles for the psychologists which should be followed in research. These basic principles are to be followed uniformly no matter the profession is clinical psychology, case study, social or behavioural psychology. These principles are set and regulated to guide and motivate the psychologist to attain healthy and high ethical ideals of the profession. The data that psychologists collect by conducting research on individual should be utilized for human welfare while respecting his or her privacy. They must not misuse or allow anyone to misuse the information gathered. Psychologists need to maintain positive relations with the patients and the research participants as they have to use their professional skills only for professional purposes.   The following are the five general ethical principles of psychology:

  1. Beneficence and Nonmaleficence:  The very first ethical principle of psychology demonstrates that the psychologists should safeguard the welfare and rights of their patients or the individuals on which they conduct research. They should strive that those should not be harmed mentally, emotionally, socially with whom they work. Whenever any conflict occurs, that should be dealt with a very professional and responsible fashion, avoiding any harm.
  2. Fidelity and Responsibility: There should be relationship of trust and faith among psychologists and the persons with whom they work/interact. They should be aware of their responsibilities i.e., scientific and professional to the society where they work. There should be cooperation among the psychologists and the institutions in order to serve the best welfare interest for whom they work.
  3. Integrity: The psychologists need to promote the honesty, truthfulness in the science, teaching and practice of the psychology.  Psychologists should not be indulged in any activity that violates the ethics or that may harm the human being such as stealing, cheating, misrepresentation of facts and data. There should be no act of deception; it should be avoided in order to safeguard the ethical norms and moral values.  The psychologists should be responsible for correcting/removing any mistrust which may have taken place due to such techniques or practices to avoid or minimize the resulting harmful effects.
  4. Justice: This principle state that there should be complete justice and fairness as it is fundamental right of every person so that he may access and benefit from the psychological contribution and to the equality in the research conducted by the psychologists. Psychologists should be not biased. They must strive upon a healthy and reasonable judgement. Precautions must be taken in order to ensure that their potential biases, competence boundaries and limitations of their practices should not invite any unjust practices.
  5. Respect for People’s Right and Dignity: This fifth principle is a set combination of all the above four stated principle so that an individual’s confidentiality and privacy can be protected. Without proper permission of the individual, psychologists should not do any practice as first of the consent from the people must be obtained. There should be respect for an individual’s dignity, worth, confidentiality, self determination and privacy. Psychologists should make use of some special safeguard for the protection of rights and welfare. They should respect the cultural, individual, social differences based on individual’s age, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, language, and disability, social and economical standards.

These were a basic ethical principles which should be kept in to consideration while research and various other professional psychological activities and practices. I have given a brief overview of the five general ethical principles of psychology, though there are several other views which should be known to psychologists including moral and legal standards, public statements, welfare and professional relationships, assessment techniques and ethical standards. The psychologists should follow these ethical principles, preventing any harmful result due to avoidance of ethical norms, moral values. All the research conducted by psychologists must be voluntary; means there must a voluntary participation by the individual in the research activities. The individual must not feel forced, threatened or coerced. The individual must be properly made understand about the possible, potential risks of the research. This is done in order to obtain aninformed consent.

Though these above mentioned principles, guidelines, rules, regulations are commonly known and practised. Still one must know the consequences of the research and expertise. As every psychological research has its own consequences being unique one, so it is a possible fact that it may invite to some unique challenges. That is why many of the universities and colleges where such researches are conducted, they have regulatory body to regulate, grant and approve any research such as Human Subjects Committee, Institutional Review Board etc. These bodies regulate mandatory safeguards to make sure that the academic research is ethical and it won’t harm ethical norms or risk to the participants. Psychologists need to deal with a sense of responsibility and ethically with all the research participants to maintain a positive and healthy relationship.


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