PSYC 1.3

Risk/Benefit Ratio
Subjective evaluation of the risk to a research participant relative to the benefit both to the individual and to society of the results of the proposed research.
Minimal Risk
A research participant is said to experience minimal risk when probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research is not greater than that ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine tests
Informed Consent
Explicitly expressed willingness to participate in a research project based on clear understanding of the nature of the research, of the consequences of not participating, and of all factors that might be expected to influence willingness to participate
Right of individuals to decide how information about them is to be communicated to others
Intentionally withholding information from a participant about significant aspects of a re search project or presenting misinformation about the research to participants
Process following a research session through which participants are informed about the rationale for the research in which they participated, about the need for any deception, and about their specific contribution to the research. Important goals of debriefing are to clear up any misconceptions and to leave participants with a positive feeling toward psychological research.
Presentation of another’s ideas or work without clearly identifying the source
Explain why researchers submit research proposals to Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) before beginning a research project, and briefly describe the functions of these committees in the research process.
Researchers must submit proposals to boards in order to determine if the experiment(s) meet ethical standards. These committees protect the rights and welfare of humans and animals respectively
Explain how the risk/benefit ratio is used in making ethical decisions. What factors contribute to judging the potential benefits of a research project?
The IRB uses the risk/benefit ratio to determine subjectively whether or not the risks of the experiment outweigh the benefits. The magnitude of the benefit is often the key to determining how much risk will be allowed. Also, the validity and cleanliness of the data that will be taken from the experiment is a factor. There must also be no other alternatives of lower risk procedures available.
Explain why research cannot be risk free and describe the standard that researchers use to determine whether research participants are “at risk.” Describe briefly how characteristics of the participants in the research can affect the assessment of risk.
Life is risky. Driving to work is risky. Nothing is risk free. Must take into effect the characteristics of the participants (elderly can’t run up stairs).
Differentiate among the three possible types of risk that can be present in psychological research: physical, psychological, social. How do researchers typically safeguard against the possibility of social risk?
Psychological – may experience serious mental or emotional stress during the study
Physical – physical harm as a result of the study
Social – Sensitive information about the participant could be revealed
What information does the researcher have an ethical obligation to make clear to the participant in order to ensure the participant’s informed consent? Under what conditions does the APA Ethics Code indicate that informed consent may not be necessary?
Researchers are ethically obligated to describe the research procedures clearly, identify any aspects of the study that might influence individuals’ willingness to participate, and answer any questions participants have about the research.

In some situations researchers are not required to obtain informed consent. The clearest example is when researchers are observing individuals’ behavior in public places without any intervention. For instance, an investigator might want to gather evidence about race relations on a college campus by observing the frequency of mixed-race versus non-mixed-race groups walking across campus. The investigator would not need to obtain students’ permission before making the observations. Informed consent would be required, however, if the identity of specific individuals was going to be recorded.

What three dimensions do Diener and Crandall (1978) recommend that researchers consider when they attempt to decide whether information is public or private?
1. The sensitivity of the information
2. The setting
3. The method of dissemination of the information
Explain why deception may sometimes be necessary in psychological research. Describe briefly the questions researchers should ask before using deception, and describe the conditions under which it is always unethical to deceive participants.
One reason is that it is impossible to carry out certain kinds of research without withholding information from participants about some aspects of the research (see Figure 3.6). In other situations, it is necessary to misinform participants in order to have them adopt certain attitudes or behaviors.
“Psychologists do not deceive prospective participants about research that is reasonably expected to cause physical pain or severe emotional distress” (Standard 8.07b)
Before using deception, a researcher must give very serious consideration to (1) the importance of the study to our scientific knowledge, (2) the availability of alternative, deception-free methods, and (3) the “noxiousness” of the deception.
In what ways can debriefing benefit the participant? In what ways can debriefing benefit the researcher?
Debriefing informs participants about the nature of the research and their role in the study and educates them about the research process. The overriding goal of debriefing is to have individuals feel good about their participation.
Debriefing allows researchers to learn how participants viewed the procedures, allows potential insights into the nature of the research findings, and provides ideas for future research.
Describe the procedures an author must follow to avoid plagiarism when citing information from an original source or from a secondary source.
Whenever material is taken directly from a source, it must be placed in quotation marks and the source must be properly identified. It is also important to cite the source of material you include in your paper when you paraphrase (i.e., reword) the material. The ethical principle is that you must cite the sources of your ideas when you use the exact words and when you paraphrase.