Ethical Principles and Dilemmas

Ethics in Psychology

Psychologists may work in a number of capacities, such as therapist, teacher, researcher, supervisor, and/or trainer. In every position, there will be occasions when ethics come into play. The American Psychological Association developed ethical standards for its members to follow: Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, commonly referred to as the “Ethics Code.” A member who violates the code faces a range of potential consequences, including expulsion from the organization. Most of the ethical standards are written broadly in order to apply to psychologists in various roles. The principles and code were originally based on survey answers provided by APA members in 1951. The unique nature of the code is that it was “based upon the day-to-day decisions made by psychologists in the practice of their profession, rather than prescribed by a committee” (Golann, as cited in Pope & Vetter, 1992, p. 398).

You review the APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and apply it to the behaviors of different psychologists who may have acted in violation of the code. You also complete the second section of your Capstone Paper, which highlights theories and research used in your chosen professional role.

Pope, K. S., & Vetter, V. A. (1992). Ethical dilemmas encountered by members of the American Psychological Association: A national survey.
American Psychologist, 47(3), 397–411.

Note: Retrieved from Walden Library databases.

American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct: Including 2010 amendments. Retrieved from

SAGE Publications. (2016).
SAGE Knowledge.

Retrieved from Walden Library databases.

Access one of the following links to find journals related to your chosen occupation:

Browse Psychology Journals

Browse Social Science Journals

SAGE Journals – Psychology and Counseling

Optional Readings

American Psychological Association (2017). Should this assistant professor lead an investigation into complaints against a dean? Retrieved from…

What situations do psychologists find to be ethically challenging or troubling? The purpose of the study described in “Ethical Dilemmas Encountered by Members of the American Psychological Association” (Pope & Vetter, 1992) was to have a representative sample of then-current APA members describe incidents that they found ethically challenging or troubling. These incidents were collected to be used in possible revisions of the current APA’s Ethics Code. Participants in the study were asked to describe an incident that they or a colleague faced that was ethically challenging or troubling. Some of the incidents described also detailed the psychologist’s response to the particular dilemma.

For this paper, you will consider whether you agree with the action taken by the psychologist and support your stance using the current version of the APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.

To prepare:

Read the APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and the article “Ethical Dilemmas Encountered by Members of the American Psychological Associations,” which discusses real scenarios of ethical dilemmas. Then, think about two of the scenarios discussed in the article.

With these thoughts in mind:

Write your answer to the following:

Choose two ethical dilemmas in the article. First, choose one in which you agree with the actions the psychologist took. Discuss why you agree with those actions. Next, choose an ethical dilemma in which you disagree with the actions the psychologist took. Explain why you disagree with those actions. Be sure to use the APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct to support both of your responses. (750+ words).


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