Ships in the Rising Sea? Changes Over Time in Psychologists’ Ethical Beliefs and Behaviors

Ethics and Behavior 28 (3):176-198 (2018)

Rebecca Schwartz
Western Kentucky University
Beliefs about the importance of ethical behavior to competent practice have prompted major shifts in psychology ethics over time. Yet few studies examine ethical beliefs and behavior after training, and most comprehensive research is now 30 years old. As such, it is unclear whether shifts in the field have resulted in general improvements in ethical practice: Are we psychologists “ships in the rising sea,” lifted by changes in ethical codes and training over time? Participants completed a survey of ethical beliefs and behaviors. Analyses examined group differences, consistency of frequency and ethicality ratings, and comparisons with past data. More than half of behaviors were rated as less ethical and occurring less frequently than in 1987, with early career psychologists generally reporting less ethically questionable behavior. Recommendations for enhancing ethics education are discussed.
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DOI 10.1080/10508422.2017.1308253
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