Ethical Principles in Psychology: The Big 5

Ethical Principles

This information is taken from the Ethical Principles of Psychology and Code of Conduct.  This post will cover the 5
ethical principle in psychology.  Unlike ethical standards, the general principles are ideals that psychologists are encouraged to aspire towards.  They are not intended to be enforceable rules with sanctions if disobeyed, and they tend to be broad rather than specific.

I highly recommend that you follow the link above and read the entire code of ethics.  I’ve put in an abbreviated version below for you to refer to, but keep in mind that the ethics portion of the EPPP is weighted highest at 15%.  This is because no matter what discipline of psychology you are in, you will refer to the Code of ethics multiple times throughout your career.  The code of ethics is also what separates psychologists from other non-licensed professionals.  It is also how the licensing body’s keep a good reputation and ensure that people being served or research produced meets a certain standard.  When you hear the term psychologist you should picture a trustworthy, well-informed, reliable person, and this code of ethics is a big part of what helps create and protect that image.  The information is best used in collaboration with your own knowledge and what you have already been taught, your previous notes or textbooks, and research if you need more information on a particular topic. Or check out the product reviews page.

Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence

  • “Psychologists strive to benefit those with whom they work and take care to do no harm.”
  • Safeguard the welfare and rights of those with whom they interact professionally and other affected persons and the welfare of animal subjects of research.
  • Attempt to resolve these conflicts in a responsible fashion that avoids or minimizes harm.
  • Alert to and guard against personal, financial, social, organizational or political factors that might lead to misuse of their influence.
  • Psychologists be aware of the possible effect of their own physical and mental health on their ability to help those with whom they work.

Principle B: Fidelity and Responsibility

  • Establish relationships of trust with those with whom they work.
  • Aware of their professional and scientific responsibilities to society
  • Uphold professional standards of conduct, clarify their professional roles and obligations, accept appropriate responsibility for their behavior and seek to manage conflicts of interest.
  • Consult with, refer to, or cooperate with other professionals.
  • Be concerned about the ethical compliance of their colleagues’ scientific and professional conduct.
  • Strive to contribute a portion of their professional time for little or no compensation.

Principle C: Integrity

  • Promote accuracy, honesty and truthfulness in the science, teaching and practice of psychology.
  • Do not steal, cheat or engage in fraud, subterfuge or intentional misrepresentation of fact.
  • Keep their promises and to avoid unwise or unclear commitments.
  • In situations in which deception may be ethically justifiable to maximize benefits and minimize harm, psychologists have a responsibility to correct any harmful effects that arise from the use of such techniques.

Principle D: Justice

  • Recognize that fairness entitles all persons to benefit from psychology and to equal quality in services being conducted by psychologists.
  • Exercise reasonable judgment and take precautions to ensure that their potential biases and the limitations of their expertise do not lead unjust practices.

Principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity

  • Respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination.
  • Be aware that special safeguards may be needed to protect the welfare of persons whose vulnerabilities impair  decision making.
  • Respect cultural, individual and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language and socioeconomic status.
  • Try to eliminate the effect of biases on their work, and they do not knowingly participate in activities of others based upon such prejudices.

You may find the information on this site is not enough to help you feel confident about your ability to pass the exam, That is OK and only you can be the judge of what you need. If this information seems overwhelming to you it does NOT mean you will fail the exam, but you may require a little more in depth material than is offered here That is why there is a Product Reviews page which will give you a variety of additional options, as well as practice exam questions which I highly recommend as explained on the Study Tips page.


4 thoughts on “Ethical Principles in Psychology: The Big 5

  1. First I want to to say that being a psychologist is not easy at all. It involves a lot of understanding of the human mind. It also involves a lot of times where the person giving psychological help can go through mental strain themselves because of the different people they meet and their own lack of capability to handle them. Following these principles seems to be pretty helpful at helping the professional do his work accurately and avoiding self harm in the process or harming the process. As for ideas to memorize abstract subjects. I usually things like imagery techniques like roman room technique. It takes a lot of practice. I think it will help everybody in general.

    1. Thank you for your comment. It’s very true, this is a profession with very high burnout rate. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to make the best decision for a client, the code of ethics makes it much clearer. It’s important to know this information for so much more than to just pass the EPPP. And thanks for the suggestion of the roman room technique for studying!

  2. Great information you have shared! You are going to be so popular with students in your field. I also found it to be very interesting without any prior knowledge. Thank you for the information and awesome site!

    1. I’m glad you found the information helpful, I think its helpful for everyone to understand the ethical responsibilities of any professional they are dealing with. Thanks for your comment

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