Part I - Part I A Brief History of the Development of...

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Part I A Brief History of the Development of Research Ethics in Psychology Ethical Guidelines in Psychology Psychologists are increasingly faced with situations of great responsibility in which values may conflict. Ethics is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions of how people ought to act toward each other, that establishes judgments about values, and that develops rules of ethical justifications. Psychologists assess and treat clients, teach, consult, and do research. Other professionals such as lawyers, nurses, and physicians face similar ethical concerns that reflect moral and normative values of society. The question that immediately arises when considering ethical issues in the practice, research, and teaching of psychology is which morals and values ought to guide the thinking and actions of psychologists. Adhering to a code of ethics that governs their professional behavior can help psychologists to solve ethical dilemmas. Ethical guidelines are living documents that are dynamic and constantly changing. Time, for example, can reveal inherent contradictions and gaps in codes of ethics that may not provide professionals with sufficient guidance when faced with a decision of ethical consequence. A review of the history of the development of ethical guidelines first, at the international level, then within the discipline of psychology will illustrate these points. International Events Concerns about ethical practice of research have a long history but, until the middle of the 20th century, they were mostly centered around the practice of therapeutic medicine, not research. Most researchers were thought to act responsibly and ethically, but did not have a code to guide them. Ethical guidelines for the conduct of research involving humans were formally codified in the late 1940's. The need for a code for research was prompted after twenty-three Nazi physicians were tried at Nuremberg, Germany, for research atrocities performed on prisoners of war. This resulted in the Nuremberg Code -- the first internationally recognized code of research ethics, issued by the Nazi War Crimes Tribunal. The Nuremberg Code, which set forth ten conditions that must be met to justify research involving human subjects, represented the most enlightened thinking of the time. The two most important conditions were the need for voluntary informed consent of subjects and a scientifically-valid research design that could produce fruitful results for the good of society. Unfortunately, there were no mechanisms for implementing the provisions of the Code and many researchers did not know about them or did not apply this guidance
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to their research activities. Surprisingly, many researchers did not use the Code as a guideline because they believed only Nazis could act in such an unethical and inhumane manner. This manner of thinking may have led to denial, or ignorance, of their own unethical acts. National Events
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Part I - Part I A Brief History of the Development of...

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