Ethics and Values in Industrial-Organizational Psychology

By Joel Lefkowitz | Go to book overview

13
Research Ethics:
I. Informed Consent
and Confidentiality

Trust lies at the heart of virtually every decision that must be made by the researcher, and all human participants in the research process depend on the trust of others at all levels. Research subjects trust the researcher to treat them with dignity and respect, to protect their well-being , and to safeguard them from potential dangers or risks of harm. Researchers trust their subjects to maintain honesty in their responding, to respect the seriousness of the research enterprise, and to maintain their promises not to reveal certain aspects of a study to future participants. Society lends its trust to researchers to pursue worthwhile research questions which stand to benefit humanity, to protect participants from research abuses, and to maintain honesty and objectivity throughout the research process.

—Alan J. Kimmel

In biomedical fields of professional practice and research with human participants utilizing procedures like randomized drug trials or experimental surgery techniques, the core ethical issue is generally the consequentialist one of possible serious harm to the participants from the procedures administered, in relation to their potential benefits. Although that is sometimes also the case for research and practice in clinical psychology or for research with vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, or the impaired, the safety of research participants is not often the most salient issue for the social and behavioral sciences in general, and it is probably even less frequently the case in I/O psychology. However, as Mann (1994) noted,

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