Ethics

Divisional Research Ethics Committee (DREC)

All research activity undertaken by staff or students in the Department of Psychology must receive ethical approval. If such approval has not been granted by an external research ethics committee, eg NHS, Ministry of Defence, Her Majesty’s Prison Service, then approval from the Department of Psychology must be secured.

Researchers can apply for a DREC application pack (PDF) and instruction guide, as well as download a flowchart (PDF) of the DREC application process.

Ethics and psychology

The following is an edited version of the British Psychological Society's code of ethics (PDF). Further details and a full version of this code are available from the British Psychological Society.

The British Psychological Society recognises its obligation to set and uphold the highest standards of professionalism, and to promote ethical behaviour, attitudes and judgements on the part of psychologists by:

  • Being mindful of the need for protection of the public
  • Expressing clear ethical principles, values and standards
  • Promoting such standards by education and consultation
  • Developing and implementing methods to help psychologists monitor their professional behaviour and attitudes
  • Investigating complaints of unethical behaviour, taking corrective action when appropriate, and learning from experience
  • Assisting psychologists with ethical decision-making
  • Providing opportunities for discourse on these issues

Under the terms of its Royal Charter, the Society is required to maintain a code of conduct. It provides the parameters within which professional judgements should be made. However, it cannot, and does not aim to, provide the answer to every ethical dilemma a psychologist may face. It is important to remember to reflect and apply a process to resolve ethical dilemmas as set out in this Code.

Ethical principles

Respect

Psychologists value the dignity and worth of all persons, with sensitivity to the dynamics of perceived authority or influence over clients, and with particular regard to people's rights including those of privacy and self-determination.

Competence

Psychologists value the continuing development and maintenance of high standards of competence in their professional work, and the importance of preserving their ability to function optimally within the recognised limits of their knowledge, skill, training, education, and experience.

Responsibility

Psychologists value their responsibilities to clients, to the general public, and to the profession and science of Psychology, including the avoidance of harm and the prevention of misuse or abuse of their contributions to society.

Integrity

Psychologists value honesty, accuracy, clarity, and fairness in their interactions with all persons, and seek to promote integrity in all facets of their scientific and professional endeavours.