• British Psychological Society (BPS) code of ethics and conduct (2009), including risk management when carrying out research in psychology.

The British Psychological Society provides guidelines for conducting psychological research in accordance with its code of ethics and conduct (2009). These include:

Respect for participants: Ensure that participants are treated with dignity and respect, and that their welfare is protected.

Informed consent: Informed consent refers to the process of obtaining agreement from participants to participate in research, based on a full understanding of the nature and implications of the study. The BPS code of ethics and conduct states that informed consent should include the following elements:

  1. Explanation: Provide a clear and comprehensive explanation of the research, including its purpose, procedures, risks and benefits.
  2. Voluntariness: Ensure that participation is entirely voluntary and that participants have the right to withdraw at any time without consequence.
  3. Capacity to consent: Assess participants’ capacity to give informed consent, taking into account factors such as age, language, and intellectual ability.
  4. Privacy and confidentiality: Explain the extent to which participants’ information will be kept confidential, and how it will be used.

Confidentiality: Maintain the confidentiality of participants’ information and data.

Deception: Avoid using deception in research unless it is necessary and fully justified.

Protection from psychological and physical harm: Minimise any potential harm or risk to participants and provide support if necessary

Right to withdraw:

Debriefing: debriefing should be carried out as soon as possible after completion of the research. The purpose of debriefing is to provide participants with information about the nature and purpose of the research, to address any questions or concerns they may have, and to minimize any harm that may have resulted from participation.These guidelines aim to promote ethical and responsible research practices and protect the rights and welfare of participants. It should should include the following elements:

  • Explanation: Provide a clear and honest explanation of the research procedures and objectives.
  • Dispelling misconceptions: Address any misconceptions or misunderstandings that participants may have about the research.
  • Reversing the effects: Take steps to reverse the effects of any manipulation or deception that was used in the research.
  • Addressing harm: Address any potential harm or discomfort that may have resulted from participation, and provide support if necessary.
  • Confidentiality: Reassure participants that their information will be kept confidential.
  • Feedback: Provide feedback on the participant’s performance and answer any questions they may have.
  • Contact details: Provide participants with contact details for the researchers in case they have any further questions or concerns.

Past Paper Questions

4 Marker
  • Explain two risk management considerations that should be taken into account when planning and carrying out social psychological research. (4) October 2019
8 Marker
  • Assess whether breaching ethical guidelines was necessary in social psychology research. (8)

Assess whether research in social psychology can fully meet ethical guidelines. (8) October 2020