Ethical principles for psychologists

Adopted unanimously by the Executive Committee of the NAOP on 13 December 2010 (in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists by the International Association of Applied Psychology in Berlin on July 26, 2008).    (Download a copy)

 

 

PREAMBLE

The document entitled Ethical Principles for Psychologists provides a moral framework and ethical principles that guide and inspire psychologists in NAOP toward the highest ethical standards in their professional and scientific work. It deals with what is just, fair, and right for the psychologists that are beneficial to the societal members and their quality of life. Psychologists are committed to placing the welfare of society and its members above the self-interest of the discipline and its members.  Accordingly, the objectives are: 

(a) to provide a ethical framework for NAOP;

(b) to use as a template to guide the teaching, research, training, and practice; 

(c) to encourage global thinking about ethics, while also encouraging action that is sensitive and responsive to local needs and values; and 

(d) to speak with a collective voice on matters of ethical concern.

 

It reaffirms the commitment of the psychology community to help build a better world where peace, freedom, responsibility, justice, humanity, and morality prevail. It advocates that psychological activities must occur in order to ensure their relevance to the economy, community, customs, beliefs, and practices. The description below is followed by a list of values.

 

Respect for the Dignity of People

‘Respect for the dignity of people’ recognizes the inherent worth of all human beings, regardless of perceived or real differences in social status, gender, capacities, or other such attributes. It is important that all communities and cultures adhere to the value that respects and protects their members both individually and collectively. Hence,

a) respect for the unique worth and inherent dignity of all human beings;

b) respect for the diversity of communities and societies;

c) respect for the customs and beliefs of the society, to be limited only when a custom or a belief seriously contravenes the principle of respect for the dignity of people or causes serious harm to their well-being;

d) free and informed consent, as culturally defined and relevant for individuals, families,

groups, and communities;

e) privacy for individuals, families, groups, and communities;  

f) protection of confidentiality of personal information, as culturally defined and relevant for individuals, families, groups, and communities; and 

g) fairness and justice in the treatment of people, animal, and environment. 

 

Caring for the Well-Being of People

‘Caring for the well-being of people’ includes maximizing benefits, minimizing potential harm, and offsetting or correcting harm. It requires the application of knowledge and skills that are appropriate for the nature of a situation as well as the social and cultural context. It also requires the ability to establish interpersonal relationships that enhance benefits and reduce harm. Another requirement is adequate self-knowledge of how one's values, experiences, culture, and social context might influence one's actions and interpretations. Hence,

a) active concern for the well-being of individuals, families, groups, communities, animals, and environment;

b) taking care to do no harm to individuals, families, groups, communities, animals, and environment;

c) maximizing benefits and minimizing harm to individuals, families, groups, communities, animals, and environment; 

d) correcting or offsetting harmful effects that have occurred as a result of activities of the individuals, families, groups, communities;

e) developing and maintaining competence;

f) self-knowledge regarding how their own values, attitudes, experiences, and social

contexts influence their actions, interpretations, choices, and recommendations; and

g) respect for the ability of individuals, families, groups, and communities to make

decisions for themselves and to care for themselves.

 

Integrity

Integrity is based on honesty, and on truthful, open, and accurate communication. It includes recognizing, monitoring, and managing potential biases, multiple relationships, and other conflicts of interest that could result in harm and exploitation of people, animals, and environment. It intends to protect the safety or confidentiality of 

people in research endeavour, and their cultural expectations. Regardless of cultural differences, multiple relationships, and conflicts of interest; monitoring and management are needed to ensure that self-interest does not interfere with acting in the best interests of people. Hence,

a) honesty, and truthful, open and accurate communication;

b) avoiding incomplete disclosure of information unless complete disclosure is culturally inappropriate, or violates confidentiality, or carries the potential to do serious harm to individuals, families, groups, or communities;

c) maximizing impartiality and minimizing biases; and

d) not exploiting people for personal, professional, or financial gain.

 

Professional and Scientific Responsibilities to Society

The responsibilities of psychologists include contributing to the knowledge about human behaviour and mental processes and using such knowledge to improve the condition of individuals, families, groups, communities, and society. Hence, the psychologists’ responsibility is:

a) to increase scientific and professional knowledge in ways that allow the promotion of the well-being of society and all its members;

b) to use psychological knowledge for beneficial purposes and to protect such knowledge from being misused, used incompetently, or made useless;

c) to conduct its affairs in ways that are ethical and consistent with the promotion of the well-being of society and all its members;

d) to promote the highest ethical ideals in the scientific, professional and educational activities of its members;

e) to adequately train its members in their ethical responsibilities and required competencies; and

f) to develop its ethical awareness and sensitivity, and to be as self-correcting as possible.