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Discuss issues relating to the ethics of SSR

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"Psychologists have a real dilemma in carrying out works in socially sensitive areas. Such work raises difficult ethical issues and yet it may provide insights into some of society's most pressing problems." Discuss issues relating to the ethics of SSR, such as those raised in this quotation Socially sensitive research describes studies in which there are potential social consequences or implications, either directly for the participants in research or the class of individuals represented by the research. Socially sensitive research can produce risks for many people other than those directly involved, for example, members of the group to which participants belong, people closely associated with the participants, the experimenter/s or even the research institution to which the experimenter/s belong. Sieber and Stanley 1988 have argued that ethical concerns can arise with respect to 4 major aspects of such research; deciding on the research question or hypothesis to be tested, the conduct of the research and treatment of the participants, the institutional context and the interpretation and application of findings in ways far removed from the intentions of the experimenter. ...read more.


Psychologists are cautioned that some aspects of human behaviour are beyond the scope of psychological research although it is largely left to the individual psychologists as to how this caution is interpreted. This has resulted in some researchers avoiding sensitive areas altogether, and those who do pursue such areas often risk criticism from colleagues and others outside the discipline. From this it is evident that socially sensitive research is more likely than non-sensitive research to be rejected by institutional ethical committees. Ceci et al found that the rejection rate was about twice as great. The fact that certain SSR is being carried out can suggest to society at large that these issues are real and important. For example, the fact that psychologists have compared the intelligence of different races implies that there are racial differences and that intelligence exists and can be measured. SSR can be used to justify various forms of discrimination against individuals or groups and in the most extreme cases the findings have be used to produce discriminatory changes in the laws and regulations within a given society. ...read more.


Early research on "alternative" sexuality suffered from heterosexual bias. This was replaced by a liberal humanistic approach that assumed that gays and lesbians conform to heterosexual norms in their attitudes and behaviour, and that minimised the specific problems encountered by gays and lesbians. Most recently, an ethically acceptable approach has evolved. Ethnic groups often experience acculturative stress. Investigators need to ensure that their research does not interfere with the attempts to members of ethnic minorities to use a suitable acculturation strategy. Socially sensitive research now shows much more recognition of the fact that we need to take full account of the needs and sensitivities of all those involved in experiments, as well as the broader society or culture in which experiments are carried out. What is regarded as acceptable or unacceptable for psychologists to do depend very much on the prevailing cultural values and standards. Some psychologists used to treat their participants in ways that are now unthinkable because their ethical standards resembled those of the culture in which they lived and worked. SSR can provide us with very valued findings but the risks of conducting the research seem to be preventing more important issues and findings from being discovered. ...read more.

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