Ethical Problems in Psychology

This is the common dilemma faced by many Psychologists as they practice their profession and do their research in the field. We always tackle this topic every time we think of designing an experiment in our Experimental Psychology class. Our experiments should put the safety first of our subjects before it will be conducted. There has been lots of complaints and protests on how the field had exploit, humiliate, used, and even to the point torture innocent subjects just for the sake of acquiring information. I just read an article about this and I’m quite saddened how the author of the article expressed his sentiments.

Torture, Psychology and Ethics in APA

You may or may not have read about recent protests of the APA and its stance on psychologists engaged in torture. On the one hand, it sounds as though the APA has taken a strong position against psychologists being involved in torture. The APA’s press release states that psychologists are prohibited from a long list of tactics, including “mock execution; water-boarding or any other form of simulated drowning or suffocation; sexual humiliation; rape; cultural or religious humiliation; exploitation of phobias or psychopathology; induced hypothermia; and the use of psychotropic drugs or mind-altering substances for the purpose of eliciting information. In addition, the following acts were banned for the purpose of eliciting information in an interrogations process: hooding; forced nakedness; stress positions; the use of dogs to threaten or intimidate; physical assault including slapping or shaking; exposure to extreme heat or cold; threats of harm or death; and isolation and/or sleep deprivation used in a manner that represents significant pain or suffering or in a manner that a reasonable person would judge to cause lasting harm; or the threatened use of any of the above techniques to the individual or to members of the individual’s family.”

And yet I have read, in many different sources, that the APA’s position is more equivocal than it sounds. The resolution passed at the August 07 APA council meeting allows psychologists to assist with interrogations in their work, even when the interrogations might not protect the prisoner’s rights. The rationale that I heard for this, from APA leadership at the August meeting, is that the APA leadership believes that the presence of a psychologist can protect the prisoner’s rights. The APA asserts that being involved in the process helps to protect prisoners. Critics decry such logic as naive, and say that it disregards what we know about social psychological processes.

I am sad to say that I am more persuaded by the critics than by the APA, and I am considering resigning from the APA.

Check the rest of the article here.

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