The ethics of psychology's role in politics and the development and institution of social policy

Ethics and Behavior 19 (2):103 – 111 (2009)
Abstract
The relationship between psychological research and the development of social policy is controversial, as is any discussion of the role of values and morals within science. Three particular instances of this controversy are evident in psychological research conducted on affirmative action, child abuse, and abortion. The American Psychological Association (APA) in fact takes a particular organizational stance on these issues. APA's Ethics Code provides some guidelines for dealing with issues of personal values as they impact psychological research and the development of social policy. An important distinction can be made between the issues psychological research can reasonably address using empirical data and the issues about which psychologists should take a stand. Ethical guidelines can help psychologists make this distinction as well as inform their subsequent actions. One pertinent recommendation is that psychologists, when serving in their professional role, should be clear regarding whether empiricism or personal belief is guiding their public statements
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