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Code of Ethics: Obligation and Dilemma


Psychology is a science that became popular not long ago. Trying to find out how and why people think and behave many professionals went too far with experiments and forgot about ethics. History knows a range of unethical studies that formed the way they are conducted today.

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It is crucial for the researchers to protect their subjects, and this principle was violated in Zimbardo’s prison simulation study. Trying to understand how the role of a guard and a prisoner affects people, the researcher made college students the victims of his study. Due to the changes in behavior, they started to suffer from depression and fits of rage. Fortunately, the researchers terminated the experiment, but its adverse impact on the subjects lasted for a year (Ethics in research, 2014). The study at Stateville Penitentiary in Illinois reveals a similar issue. The research was focused on malaria and entailed physical and emotional suffering, including death, but it was not abolished (McDermott, 2013).

Violation of ethical code deals with the respect and protection of the individuals. Privacy and confidentiality are to be guaranteed. The researchers are to provide decent information about the study and be targeted at achieving valid results. If the research fails to meet the demands, the well-being of the participants may be threatened, the effectiveness of the study is not likely to be proved, and the results may be biased. Moreover, the research may be terminated.

The main issue regarding the research on incarcerated individuals is that they are imprisoned. Because of this state, the individuals agree to participate when they are promised to reduce the term of confinement or change the sentence even if the study is life-threatening or they do not know all its peculiarities.

Ethical Obligation and Dilemma

The case study deals with the relationship between the student and supervisor. The student fails to meet the demands regarding appropriate behavior, which entails a range of problems that involve other people.

The ethical obligation of the student, which one failed to manage, is professional behavior. Due to this fact, multiple relations occurred from her side, and the supervisor also became an object of attraction. According to the code of ethics, the psychologist is to be objective, and such relations are likely to influence one’s performance (American Psychological Association, 2010). Moreover, the student acted inappropriately in public, forged the documents and accused the supervisor and the Chief Psychologist, which could affect their reputation and cause dismissal. That is why she was to compose herself and start acting decently.

The dilemma faced by the supervisor was dealing with his decision to sign the student’s certificate. The supervisor’s authority punished her but decided that she can continue studying. However, due to the student’s previous behavior, he refused to sign her certificate even though all requirements were met. On the one hand, he could have considered that she is not good enough to become a professional, but, on the other hand, the authority allowed her to finish the program. Thus, the supervisor failed to show the highest standards of professionalism, required from him and made a biased decision (British Psychological Society, 2009).

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Substance Abuse Assessment

Offenders with mental disorders are prone to chemical use and dependency because it is hard for them to control themselves. They need a special assessment and treatment approach due to their health conditions. For those who have minor problems attending treatment programs may be enough. However, people who suffer severe issues need additional treatment that will cope with their mental issues as well as with the abuse. They are likely to be included in programs conducted by MICA that are targeted at such populations and presuppose the usage of antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can also enhance the outcomes.

Psychiatric Research Interview for Substance and Mental Disorders (PRISM) is the best instrument for abuse assessment for this sub-population, as it was created for them. Its primary benefit is the fact that it covers mental disorders. PRISM is meant to assess adults. It is to be managed with the help of a trainer in a form of an interview. It is helpful for heavy drinkers and drug users, as it allows the professional to identify the main focus of the treatment. Unfortunately, PRISM is not easy to utilize, as the personnel and the offenders are to be trained. Moreover, the interview lasts for about 2 hours and requires many items (PRISM, 2003).

Drinker Inventory of Consequences (DrInC) can be also used with such sub-population. It is the questionnaire meant to define the consequences of the abuse. The professionals gain an opportunity to find out which symptoms the offender has because of drinking and which is due to the disorder, and how they were affected. Thus, the needed treatment can be selected. The advantage of DrInC is the simplicity of its usage. The fact that it is self-administered may be negative due to the mental disorder (DrInC, 2003).


American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Web. 

British Psychological Society. (2009). Code of ethics and conduct. Web.

DrInC. (2003). Web.

Ethics in research. (2014). Web.

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McDermott, B. (2013). Coercion in research: Are prisoners the only vulnerable population? Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 41(8): 8-13.

PRISM. (2003). Web.

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