Generally speaking, Ethics refers to standards of behavior that tell us how to act rightly, honestly, and fairly in different situations. “Ethics is the study of standards of conduct and moral judgment” (Webster’s New World’s College Dictionary). Ethics related with most aspects of human beings' activities especially with Psychology, the science that studies human beings’ behaviors, characteristics, and trends. Ethics advise human beings to act on behalf of all parties’ benefits and to bring no harm to anyone. Practically, there are several different notions about Ethics. Somebody may say: “Ethics has to do with what my feelings tell me is right or wrong”, or: “Ethics has to do with my religious beliefs." Many people believe: “Being ethical is doing what the law requires." Others define: “Ethics consists of the standards of behavior our society accepts." (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, and Meyer, 2008)
What is not Ethics?
Indeed, Ethics are not the same as feelings. People’s feelings varied depending on many elements: education, family, personal interests, and environment. Viewing the same issue, persons may have different feelings. Seeing a homeless lying hungry on a street, a good-hearted person may say: “Oh! Pity for him!” then give all money he or she has in the wallet to the homeless person. On the contrary, another person may complain: “What the hell is he doing? What goes round, goes round”. Ethics is not religion because there are millions of people who have no religions at all but do more charity work than religious people. Ethics is not following the law either. Sometimes, in some country, law markers bend the rules to earn some benefits for themselves. Ethics is not hundred percent accepted by the society especially in a corrupted government system. In corrupted systems like in Vietnam, Thailand, China, other Asian countries, and in several Central America countries today, Ethics are not well-respected by the governments. They do not consider Ethics as important matter that should be applied on the professionals’ career. Besides, Ethics may cause conflicts between Social needs and People’s privacy. For instance, when a psychologist hears a confession of a client who wants to set up a shooting spree at a school, he must make quick decision to save the community instead of protecting a person’s privacy. In fact, if the psychologist does not report to the police and the shooting spree happens, the psychologist is the person who is partially responsible for the shooting.
What is Ethics?
Psychologist tries to understand as much as possible all the causes of people’s emotional interactions by means of interviews, questionnaires, observations, researches, and medical tests. Therefore, to have accurate predictions and to avoid bias suggestions, psychologists have to respect all people's interests and civil rights based on some moral principles and standards called ethical rules. According to APA Codes of Ethics, "Psychologists seek to promote accuracy, honesty, and truthfulness in the science, teaching, and practice of psychology. In these activities psychologists do not steal, cheat, or engage in fraud, subterfuge, or intentional misrepresentation of fact.”
Regardless all different religions and all social perspectives, Ethics represents for Fairness and Equality. “Aristotle and other Greek philosophers have contributed the idea that all equals should be treated equally.” (Shanks, 2008). Human beings are created equally. Therefore, human beings must be treated fairly. Sex, gender, social statuses are not the main points that are required when a client seeks advices from a psychologist. “Ethics poses questions about how we ought to act in relationships and how we should live with one another. Ethics asks us to consider whether our actions are right or wrong.” (Shanks, 2008). There is a frame of Ethical decision making for professional. The frame consists of Recognizing an Ethical Issue, Getting the facts, Evaluating Alternate Actions,
Alternate actions, and Making the last decision. All the above steps must be performed in professional manner. In addition, “the words "ethics" and "ethical" refer broadly to ways that people's lives are organized; specifically they refer to the many values, principles, rules, guide-lines and purposes that define traditions, communities and disciplines.” (Vanderbilt University, 2008).
The need of Ethical Awareness
As stated by the above definitions, Ethics related with many fields. Without Ethics, the lives of people are at stakes. Nevertheless, there is a decrease about the values of Ethics today. “Over the past several decades, public opinion polls have reported a dramatic increase in the number of individuals who perceive that attention to ethics have been declining steadily.” (William Institute for Ethics and Management, 2008) Furthermore, there is an observation of the “misuse of power and discretion by individuals performing organization roles.” (Same document). A number of psychologists who have bad purposes ignore the principles when their professional lives relate with fames or wealth. They may take advantages on rich patients to extend the treatment plans so that the professionals can enjoy the payments. Otherwise, the patients will be treated badly. At the same time, the psychologists may give short treatment plan to get rid of the cases.
In Westminster and Santa Ana cities, few years ago, about 50 medical doctors were charged with fraudulent treatments. The accused doctors cheated money from the government. Among them, there are several psychologists and psychiatrists. All of them were covetous and liked to have as many properties as possible. They totally ignored the Ethical Principles and just care for themselves and their own families only.
In this modern and complex society, Ethics Awareness Inventory is the necessary tool for psychologists to keep from falling in a trap of money and fames. Psychologists needs to read, learn, and apply the Ethic Awareness to their professional lives in order to perform their mission that they already swore to the Seniors before they are able to work as psychologists.
Shanks, Thomas, What Is Ethic? 2008,
Center for Ethics retrieved on January 18the, 2008 from:
Center for Austism. Retrieved on February, 15, 2008, from