Ethical Issues in Industrial/Organizational Psychology Research

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  • 0:02 Ethical Issues
  • 0:33 Do No Harm
  • 2:07 Individual Rights
  • 4:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ian Lord

Ian has an MBA and is a real estate investor, former health professions educator, and Air Force veteran.

In this lesson, we will look at some of the major ethical issues involved in conducting research in the field of industrial/organizational psychology, with a special focus on protecting the health and privacy of the research participants.

Ethical Issues

Before Bob can design a research study, he needs to be aware of the ethical standards that apply in conducting scientific research. When human beings are involved in research there must always be intentional consideration of the potential consequences involved, and a plan on the part of the researchers to respect those people's rights. Let's review with Bob some of the major ethical considerations for research in industrial and organizational psychology.

Do No Harm

Researchers have a responsibility to ensure that participants aren't harmed physically or psychologically in the course of a study. Informed consent is essential. Bob needs to make sure that anyone involved is aware of the purpose, procedures, and possible benefits of the research. Participants must also be made aware of any physical or psychological risks they may face as part of the study.

Generally speaking, a research subject should not be exposed to anything more dangerous than what would be encountered in daily life. Honesty is important. Research participants must be volunteers, and as volunteers they have the right to withdraw from the study. A thorough debriefing, or short interview after the study between the researcher and the participants, allows both parties to discuss what happened. Deception may be used in research to the extent it's necessary to test the hypothesis. Bob must tell the participant if and when any deception was used and try to help subjects feel that their participation was useful. Along with an opportunity to answer any questions, these strategies allow a participant to leave the experiment in a mentally healthy way.

Researchers have an obligation to accurately record and report information. It's completely unacceptable for Bob to cherry pick information by intentionally disregarding any data that doesn't support a preconceived agenda. If the data proves a hypothesis wrong, then that information can be used to refine future research.

Individual Rights

Industrial and organizational research often requires the active participation of individuals in the workplace. In order to elicit accurate responses from people, assurances of confidentiality and privacy must be established. People will be reluctant to participate if they believe they may face personal or professional consequences by being an honest participant.

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