Ethical Issues In Psychological Research

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Justice mkhokheli hikwa RESPECT FOR THE AUTONOMY AND DIGNITY OF PERSONS The central principle for all ethical consideration is that the autonomy and dignity of the individuals involved in the research process is respected. Yet there are times when researchers study certain areas of the brain that directly impacts the autonomy of the participants. Take for example, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPF), an area towards the front of the brain implicated in a range of ethical decision-making processes (Casebeer & Churchland, 2003; Damasio 1995). Indeed this well replicated finding has lead some researchers to consider the VMPF as playing an essential role in morality processing (Green & Haidt, 2002, Hauser, 2006). The ability to assess the morality and ethicality of an experimental procedure is an important stage that participants undergo when deciding whether or not to take part. Individuals whose capacity to make autonomous assessments about the ethical nature of a proposed paradigm would not be able to make a fully informed decision as to the provision of consent. Of relevance is the fact that neuropsychological evidence has shown consistently that patients suffering from damage to the VMPF are impaired in making ethically charged judgments about themselves and also the environment that they interact with (Damasio, et al 1990). Such a deficit would have an immediate and significant effect on the ability to provide informed consent. Here, researchers should consider the use of an independent third party to assess the ability to provide consent in these cases. (See the Mental Capacity Act, 2007 : and BPS guidelines:$. cfm?file_uuid=AC678329-1143-DFD0-7E20-4EE07191A785&ext=pdf). Special care in determining
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