The Science of Ethics: Deception, the Resilient Self, and the APA Code of Ethics, 1966-1973
Journal of the history of the behavioral sciences 2010 Fall; 46(4): 337-70
This paper has two aims. The first is to shed light on a remarkable archival source, namely survey responses from thousands of American psychologists during the 1960s in which they described their contemporary research practices and discussed whether the practices were "ethical." The second aim is to examine the process through which the American Psychological Association (APA) used these survey responses to create principles on how psychologists should treat human subjects. The paper focuses on debates over whether "deception" research was acceptable. It documents how members of the committee that wrote the principles refereed what was, in fact, a disagreement between two contemporary research orientations. The paper argues that the ethics committee ultimately built the model of "the resilient self" into the APA's 1973 ethics code. At the broadest level, the paper explores how prevailing understandings of human nature are written into seemingly universal and timeless codes of ethics.
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