Some issues of ethics and social psychology

Stephen G. West, Steven P. Gunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Reviews the implications of tightening ethical standards for social psychology, and contends that there is a current shift in the field toward investigating neutral or positive, rather than negative, aspects of human behavior. The major methodological approaches (laboratory experiments, field experiments, role playing, and complex correlational methods) are discussed with respect to the issues of validity of causal inference, ecological validity, and ethics. It is argued that there is a fundamental difference in the perception of the nature of man on the part of humanistic critics and traditional experimental social psychologists that leads to different assessments of the long-term effects of deception research on Ss. Long-term follow-up studies are proposed as a source of empirical information on which investigators and ethics committees may base decisions about the acceptability of the level of risk associated with experimental manipulations. (40 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-38
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1978
Externally publishedYes


  • social psychology, impact of ethical issues on methods & findings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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