Foundations of Ethical Practice, Research, and Teaching in Psychology

By Karen Strohm Kitchener | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Ethics -- What It Is and What It Is Not1

Psychologists, whatever their roles, are increasingly faced with situations in which values conflict. Take the following cases, for example.

Case 1-1 : A married man with two small children enters into therapy with a psychologist. In the course of treatment, he reveals that he is bisexual and is HIV positive. He fears he will develop the symptoms of AIDS but does not wish his wife to know of his condition unless he does so. Even after the psychologist reasons with him, he refuses to tell his wife, although he does indicate that most of the time they used condoms as a form of birth control.

Case 1-2 : A professor generally gives a similar assignment to his graduate seminar each year. It involves designing a study to explore a particularly difficult problem that the class has studied. When the papers are turned in, he notices that one of the papers is remarkably like a paper he received the previous year. He confronts the student with the possibility that she has plagiarized. The student explains that there was a recent death in her family and that she was having difficulty concentrating. As a result, she read a former student's paper to get herself thinking about the task. She claims that she designed the study herself and really didn't think the paper she read influenced her work. When the professor points out the similarities, she seems genuinely surprised at the amount of overlap. The professor is perplexed by the student's actions because he has always found her to have a great deal of integrity and to be one of the best students in the class.

Case 1-3 : A medical researcher has received a large multiyear grant to study the use of gene therapy to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. No one has systematically asked whether the therapy

____________________
1
Selections of this chapter are based on Ethics and Counseling psychology: Distinctions and Directions, by K. S. Kitchener, 1984, The Counseling Psychologist, 12, 15-18.

-1-

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