Tag Archives: American Psychological Association

Issues of Research Ethics in the Facebook ‘Mood Manipulation’ Study: The Importance of Multiple Perspectives

 

By: Michelle Broaddus, Ph.D.

A new study using Facebook data to study “emotional contagion,” and the ensuing backlash of its publication offers the opportunity to examine several ethical principles in research. One of the pillars of ethically conducted research is balancing the risks to the individual participants against the potential benefits to society or scientific knowledge. While the study’s effects were quite small, the authors argue that “given the massive scale of social networks such as Facebook, even small effects can have large aggregated consequences.” However, participants were not allowed to give informed consent, which constitutes a risk of the research and the major source of the backlash.

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Issues of Research Ethics in the Facebook ‘Mood Manipulation’ Study: The Importance of Multiple Perspectives (full text)

 

By: Michelle Broaddus, Ph.D.

A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes a mood manipulation experiment conducted by Facebook scientists during one week in 2012 that suggests evidence of “emotional contagion,” or the spread of positive and negative affect between people. The backlash to this publication has been significant. As two examples, Slate.com published a piece entitled “Facebook’s Unethical Experiment: It intentionally manipulated users’ emotions without their knowledge” and The Atlantic’s piece, “Even the Editor of Facebook’s Mood Study Thought It Was Creepy.”

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Are the Workers Alright? Moral Distress Among Mental Health Researchers

By Adam L. Fried, Ph.D.

Psychologists and psychiatrists have devoted increased attention to their own self-care in response to high levels of stress in treating individuals with serious mental health conditions. Little attention, however, has been paid to those conducting research with these populations and the unique moral dilemmas encountered by researchers on the front lines.  This is especially true for the graduate students, research assistants, and other research staff who are out in the field or in hospitals providing research-related clinical assessments and interventions, as well as other more traditional research tasks, such as participant recruitment and enrollment, with individuals with high levels of anxiety, depression, and trauma.

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Are Psychologists Violating their Ethics Code by Conducting Death Penalty Evaluations for Defendants with Mental Disabilities?

By: Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D.
@CeliaBFisher

Imagine you are a forensic psychologist asked during the sentencing phase of a capital punishment case to assess the mental status of a homeless, African American defendant convicted of murder.  Your evaluation report states that the defendant has an IQ and adaptive living score bordering on a diagnosis of intellectual disability, but the absence of educational and health records from childhood prevents you from definitively stating he fits the Supreme Court’s definition of “mental retardation” which would preclude the jury from recommending the death penalty.  Subsequently the defendant is sentenced for execution.

Would you be surprised to learn that your report may have placed you in violation of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Code of Ethics that prohibits psychological activities that justify or defend violating human rights? Continue reading