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Personal Values and Ethical Standards


The subject of personal values and ethical standards is a major prerequisite in social life and business matters. The issue of values and ethics has come to the forefront since the near-collapse of the biggest economy of the United States, which most commentators have blamed on questionable values and contempt of ethical standards by the management of various companies. For the citizens of the world to coexist properly there is a need to have appropriate personal values and adhere to ethical standards and principles which act as a compass in all our dealings (Warren, 2002). This paper seeks to tackle several issues revolving around the broad topic of personal values and ethical standards. It begins with an outline of the development of personal values, ground rules, and ethics, focusing on the developmental aspect. It proceeds to discuss the implications of such values on work as a human service professional. The paper further talks about ethical dilemmas in relation to the ethical standards of human service professionals. It ends by briefly looking at the ethical standards and general principles including the use of psychological tests in the courtroom, the lie detector, boundaries of competence, integrity, sexual harassment, human differences as well as the legal definition of insanity.

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Development of Personal Values

My personal values are deep-seated beliefs that act as a compass in my life. They guide me on what is right and what is wrong. The process of personal values development is intricate and varies from one person to the other and is influenced by other people and various forces with which we interact.

The major influence and ingredient in the formation and development of my personal values were my parents. Most of the things I observed my parents do to me, my siblings, friends and even animals were fundamental in shaping my personal values. Through their demonstrations of these values (i.e. respect for women or men, kindness, gentleness, kindness to others and even to animals), I was able to follow and practice the values. They showed me how to treat other human beings, animals and how to care or not care for the environment. Through my parent’s kindhearted nature of treating animals, I have come to hate people who mistreat animals.

I also acquired my personal values from the people who surrounded me during my childhood and my entire life. These include siblings, nannies, house helps, peers, neighbors, teachers, church members, colleagues among others. As I spent a proportionate amount of my early childhood around a group of these people they influenced greatly how I have turned out in my life. The other group of people I have interacted with in life reinforces the values gained during childhood or instills other values depending on the situation. Values formed in the interaction with such people include friendship, honesty, hard work, loyalty, teamwork among others. I have also emulated my elder siblings to become meticulous in my academic work.

My personal values have also been formed as a result of the culture of the society in which I have grown up. Certain things which are exercised continuously and consistently in a culture become values for those residing within the confines of that culture. Culture has influenced the formation of my personal values which determine the relations of people in the society. It has influenced personal values relating to issues such as social conscientiousness, personal liberty, integrity, democracy, truth, responsibilities of men as well as women, marriage, love and justice. To me, such values are not just concepts about the culture as they have more meaning and are precursors of my personal emotions. Having been brought up in a culture where elders are respected by the younger ones I have turned out to be respectful to the seniors in public places and in the usage of public utilities.

My personal interactions have been informed by interactions with various institutions like law enforcement bodies and the entire governance structures. These have instilled in me the need to abide by the laws of the land as I have witnessed the consequences which befell those who do not comply with such laws and statutes.

My personal values have been informed by the media. The media has been a crucial information source in my entire life. It has assisted me in opening my eyes to the universe and other people’s cultures. I have come to realize such barriers as race, religion and social classes should not inhibit my relations with others. They have also encouraged the values of tolerance, open-mindedness, charity as well as acceptance of human differences.

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The implication of Personal Values on Professional Work

Personal values dictate various issues in the workplace. First, it determines how one relates to others in the workplace. A personal value system directs one on how to deal with clients, colleagues and employers. It guides such relationships with such elements as honesty, integrity, loyalty, reliability, truthfulness, loyalty. Secondly, they affect how one conducts his professional work (Warren, 2002). Personal values at the same time have been galvanized by professional ethics which give direction on how to carry out their specific jobs. Personal values influence how one charges fees on the clients, the time spent in the office, abuse of office and the quality of service offered among other issues. Personal values enable one to find a balance between his work and their family as well as social life aspects.

Ethical Dilemmas

An ethical dilemma occurs when one finds himself in a position requiring that one make decision(s) that have aspects of undesirability in their outcomes. Such instances in professional services are commonplace and one is usually guided by personal values and a professional code of ethics. Ethical dilemmas are surely likely to pop up in one’s career once in a while. Ethical dilemmas present tricky situations in which a professional must have some guidance to navigate and emerge unhurt and without hurting others and injuring the relationships built over the years. The guidance will be provided by the professional code of ethics and most importantly the personal values of the individual. Dilemmas can be simple in relation to the ethical standards of human service professionals and can be resolved with ease. The dilemmas can also be of complex nature and present difficulties in navigating and resolving.

An instance in which I would find ease in navigating a professional ethical dilemma could involve the case where a client wants us to develop a sexual relationship. Under such situations, I would clearly but politely turn such advances down and stress that ours is purely a professional engagement. This would be guided by my beliefs on sex, honesty, conscientiousness and integrity. I would also not like to hurt such a client thus the need to be polite in rejecting the advances. I would also be guided by the professional code of ethics which lays down the course of action in such a situation. Further, I might advise the client to find another profession to serve him.

A situation where I would find difficulty in navigating could entail a case where having worked for a company for more than ten years, a vacancy comes up (in a position am qualified). The management, instead of picking me, employs someone else with similar credentials. On complaining the management tells me that I should wait some time longer. Having worked for a company for more than ten years I would feel that I deserved a promotion from my position to such a higher position when it became vacant in the company. Working for the company for such a long time and not getting the promotion would make me feel slighted. In this issue, I would think the company management was not fair to me by not granting me the higher position putting into consideration my experience and duration of exemplary service in the company.

Due to the feeling of frustration and lack of recognition I might start sourcing for business from the company’s clients who I would serve during company hours but pocket the money. I would start using company resources like the company’s software for personal gain. Working for individual clients and small firms without the knowledge of the company management is contrary to the fact that an employee is expected to devote his/her finest efforts and concentration to the full-time performance of his/her job and to make decisions that affect the company based on the company’s best interests and independent from outside pressures. I would also become lax as a consequence of being denied the assistant director position which I believe I deserved. Korthuis states that people usually base their decision-making processes on situational ethics. This is a conviction that instead of accommodating unconditional, rigid principles, judgment should be made depending on the situation (Korthuis, 2009). Based on this thinking I would have several options. First, I would continue with the way I was operating since it would be beneficial to me and blackmail anyone who came to know of my sideshows into not reporting me to the company’s management. But, by doing this, I would jeopardize some basic virtues and principles that are divine such as honesty, trust and love since my actions were neither fair nor just. Secondly, I could cease from my sideshows and be dedicated to my job at the company and wait for those few more years promised by the management. I could also air my grievances to the partners in an open forum and resolve the issue fairly and truthfully. Lastly, I would also resign from my position in the company and start my own firm or seek employment elsewhere. Such a situation would be very hard to resolve. There would be the need to resolve such a situation as it impacts negatively on productivity and poisoning workplace relationships. If the situation persists it would lead to a personal crisis whereby my personal development would be derailed as I would be unable to concentrate either on the companies work or on my sideshows. Such a hard decision would have to be made based on my personal drive which is my personal values.

Outline of ethical standards and general principles

This section explains briefly some ethical standards and general principles employed in psychology.

The use of psychological tests in the courtroom

The utilization of a psychological test is meant to complement an interview as well as recorded evaluations. It also improves the evaluation based upon the addition of objective test data regarding the patients’ psychological or neuropsychological clinical status that improves the accuracy of an assessment. The use of such procedures can assist in identifying and ruling out clinical problems such as mood or anxiety disorders or impairment that might have influenced a certain course of action being investigated.

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The lie detector

Lies detection is a way of unmasking liars, traditionally done through searching for clues in shyness, suspicious eyes, curling toes and other such bodily external signs. The lie detector was invented in 1920 in Berkeley, California as an infallible device that examined honesty into the individual’s heart uncovering all the lies. The lie detector is also known as a polygraph and is used in assessing the honesty or loyalty of a person in an interview. The polygraph discovers alterations in the intricate bodily functions influenced only by the subconscious mind. These include stressing and variations in speech tones, physical body reactions such as skin conductivity and heartbeat. Through an analysis of these variables, the lie detector helps to tell when a person is lying from when he or she is telling the truth.

Boundaries of competence

In the field and practice of psychology, a psychologist can undertake one of the several career options or paths which include the provision of services, training, or research. It is required that he or she provide such professional services in areas only within the confines of their proficiency as dictated by their academic qualifications, supervised experience, consultation with other professionals or experience attained during practice (APA, 2003).


Integrity refers to the principle where a person as a whole in all his dealings can be said to be acting as per the conventional personal, moral, social, economic, professional and legal expectations without deviating. This explanation points to the issue of incorruptibility on all fronts of the self (Holley, 2002: p.7). Professionals should seek to promote accuracy, sincerity, and openness in all aspects pertaining to their profession.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment occurs when one is subjected to indecent, offensive, severe and unwarranted physical sexual advances such as touching; verbal assault where one is subjected to inappropriate sexual talks or words; gestures with sexual overtones as well as acts like ogling. Psychologists are expected to desist from sexual harassment of their clients, fellow employees or children (APA, 2003).

Human differences

The human difference manifests itself in different aspects such as age, gender, race, ethnicity national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language and socioeconomic status. In psychology, there is a need to demonstrate sensitivity and respect for human differences through a dedication to obtaining additional training, extensive reading of literature relating to other people along consultations which are necessary for ensuring the provision of responsive and culturally proficient professional services.

The legal definition of insanity

In legal terms, insanity is the condition whereby a person cannot be able to make reasonable and sound judgment in his decision-making process due to mental derangement.


American Psychological Association (APA). (2003). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. 2009. Web. 

Holley, D. M. (2002). ‘Self-Interest and Integrity.’ International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 42 (5): pp. 5–22.

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Korthus, B. (2009). Situation Ethics = Pig + Lipstick, The Goodnews Magazine. Web.

Warren R., (2002), The Purpose Driven Life: what on earth am I here for? Oasis International Ltd.

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