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Ethical Issues in Psychology

  1. Karen Strohm Kitchener

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0321

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Kitchener, K. S. 2010. Ethical Issues in Psychology. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. University of Denver

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Professions share many common characteristics, such as the development of a code of ethics. Ethics codes serve many purposes, one of which is to state the fundamental values of the profession and to bring together the cumulative wisdom of the profession about acting morally toward those with whom the profession works. The 2002 Ethics Code of the American Psychological Association (APA) is divided into four sections: (1) the introduction, (2) the preamble, (3) general principles, and (4) ethical standards (American Psychological Association, 2002). Kitchener (1984) has argued that the ethical standards are grounded in principles that are more general and fundamental than standards and that serve as their foundation. Although slightly different from those in the 2002 APA Ethics Code, the five principles that seem central to thinking about ethical problems in psychology are (1) beneficence (do good), (2) nonmaleficence (do no harm), (3) respect for persons (treat individuals as autonomous agents, but recognize that those with diminished autonomy or competence need protection), (4) justice (be fair), and (5) fidelity (keep promises, do not lie, be faithful). These principles articulate ethical norms that are central to whatever role the psychologist is in and are quite similar to the principles in the 2002 code.