Reviews

Ethical Issues and Guidelines in Psychology

This is a disappointing book. It does not do what it promises in terms of outlining and discussing ethical issues relating to psychology. Instead, it is very narrowly focused on a set of issues of relevance to A Level psychology students. There is no attempt to broaden the remit of the book to include university

students and researchers (in psychology and health care). The reader will look in vain for a thorough discussion of methodological issues of relevance to the novice researcher or help with how to approach ethical review (within a higher education or NHS context). Instead anyone older than 18 years is likely to be annoyed by the rather forced ‘trendy’ tone of the text, the over explanations of events (e.g. telling us what the ‘Cold War’ was), and the inclusion of irrelevant issues (e.g. what has Tuskegee got to do with psychology?). A reader younger than 18 is just likely to feel patronised. In addition, the text is either superficial (e.g. discussion of the DSM), tends to flit from topic to topic with no explanation (e.g. the switch from talking about diagnostic categories to sexual relationships between therapists and clients), or is biased in its discussion (e.g. the reader is wrongly left

...

students and researchers (in psychology and health care). The reader will look in vain for a thorough discussion of methodological issues of relevance to the novice researcher or help with how to approach ethical review (within a higher education or NHS context). Instead anyone older than 18 years is likely to be annoyed by the rather forced ‘trendy’ tone of the text, the over explanations of events (e.g. telling us what the ‘Cold War’ was), and the inclusion of irrelevant issues (e.g. what has Tuskegee got to do with psychology?). A reader younger than 18 is just likely to feel patronised. In addition, the text is either superficial (e.g. discussion of the DSM), tends to flit from topic to topic with no explanation (e.g. the switch from talking about diagnostic categories to sexual relationships between therapists and clients), or is biased in its discussion (e.g. the reader is wrongly left with the impression that all psychiatric medication has side effects).

Perhaps the most troubling issue is the fact that their discussion of many ethical issues is full of errors. A significant example is to found in their discussion of the distinction between absolute and relative values. Relativism does not involve a claim about values being related to ‘context’, but rather that values are ‘relative’ to a group or society. Indeed, much recent work in ethical theory has focused on how a response to context can still support an objective morality. The authors of this book frequently criticise their fellow psychologists for speaking about issues beyond their expertise. Perhaps they should have taken their own advice and asked someone familiar with the ethics literature to be in involved with their project. Unfortunately, this book is a lost opportunity to discuss ethical issues in psychology, and will be of no use to nursing students or researchers.

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?