Socially Sensitive Research

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“Psychologists have a real dilemma in carrying out works in socially sensitive areas. Such work raises difficult ethical issues and yet it may provide insights into some of society’s most pressing problems.” Discuss issues relating to the ethics of SSR, such as those raised in this quotation Socially sensitive research describes studies in which there are potential social consequences or implications, either directly for the participants in research or the class of individuals represented by the research. Socially sensitive research can produce risks for many people other than those directly involved, for example, members of the group to which participants belong, people closely associated with the participants, the experimenter/s or even the research institution to which the experimenter/s belong. Sieber and Stanley 1988 have argued that ethical concerns can arise with respect to 4 major aspects of such research; deciding on the research question or hypothesis to be tested, the conduct of the research and treatment of the participants, the institutional context and the interpretation and application of findings in ways far removed from the intentions of the experimenter. When looking at research that attempts to link crime to genetics, both legal and moral implications are created. With regards to treatment of participants, one of the major problems is maintaining the confidentiality of information that might be revealed as part of the research process, for example, sexual habits or drug use. In such situations the issue of confidentiality is paramount. If confidentiality were broken, then participants would be less willing to divulge this information in the future and further research in this area would have been compromised. On the other hand, carrying out socially sensitive research also carries significant implications for the researchers
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