Ethics and Behavior 15 (4):293 – 308 (2005)
Given the increase in human rights abuses and suffering in the world, psychologists bear an ethical responsibility to become more vocal and active on issues of social justice. Western psychology has failed to realize its full transformative potential, largely due to its preoccupation with the individual level of intervention, historical tendency to respond reactively to war and violence, and various cultural biases and ethnocentrism that exist within the field. Instead, psychology must take a more proactive, systems-oriented approach to addressing human rights issues. Due to the lack of guidelines in engaging in professional activism, psychologists must first more critically identify, challenge, and clarify relevant ethical concerns, including issues of culture, competence, and nonmaleficence involved in this type of work. This article explores these complex ethical considerations and suggests ways that psychologists can evolve their roles as researchers, therapists, consultants and educators. The aim is to stimulate dialogue about how psychology can embed ethical activism into its professional identity.
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