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However important the issue under investigation psychologists need to remember that they have a duty to respect the rights and dignity of research participants.
These committees may request researchers make changes to the study's design or procedure, or in extreme cases deny approval of the study altogether.
The British Psychological Society (BPS) and American Psychological Association (APA) have both issued a code of ethics in psychology that provides guidelines for the conduct of research.
Studies must now undergo an extensive review by an institutional review board (US) or ethics committee (UK) before they are implemented.
All UK research requires ethical approval by one or more of the following: (a) Department Ethics Committee (DEC): for most routine research.
If they think it would be OK then it can be assumed that the real participants will also find it acceptable. However, a problem with this method is that there might there be a mismatch between how people think they would feel/behave and how they actually feel and behave during a study?
In order that consent be ‘informed’, consent forms may need to be accompanied by an information sheet for participants setting out information about the proposed study (in lay terms) along with details about the investigators and how they can be contacted.For example, it might be that a study causes psychological or physical discomfort to participants, maybe they suffer pain or perhaps even come to serious harm.On the other hand the investigation could lead to discoveries that benefit the participants themselves or even have the potential to increase the sum of human happiness.participants should not be exposed to risks greater than or additional to those encountered in their normal lifestyles.The researcher must also ensure that if vulnerable groups are to be used (elderly, disabled, children, etc.), they must receive special care.Before the study begins the researcher must outline to the participants what the research is about, and then ask their consent (i.e. An adult (18ys ) capable of giving permission to participate in a study can provide consent.Parents/legal guardians of minors can also provide consent to allow their children to participate in a study.For example, if studying children, make sure their participation is brief as they get tired easily and have a limited attention span.Researchers are not always accurately able to predict the risks of taking part in a study and in some cases a therapeutic debriefing may be necessary if participants have become disturbed during the research (as happened to some participants in Zimbardo’s prisoners/guards study).Moral issues rarely yield a simple, unambiguous, right or wrong answer.It is therefore often a matter of judgement whether the research is justified or not.