Ethics is one of the most important parts of any field of study. There are several factors that need to be considered when doing research and creating and using psychological tests. Two factors that I would like to focus some attention on are reliability and validity and conflict of interest.
When it comes to reliability and validity it is very important that instruments used in assessments have been put to the test and proven to give reliable results. It can be difficult to find the right assessment tool that will help your research answer the appropriate questions. But it is necessary to find an assessment tool that has been tried before, hopefully with a similar population of participants, so that we can more accurately rely on its results. Reliability in terms of psychological assessment is looking for accurate results that found consistently when an assessment is used multiple times (Reynolds, 2013 p.110). Validity is more concerned with scores and results of an assessment being appropriate to the subject the assessment is focusing on (p.155). So in short you want to find a test that gives accurate and consistent results, whose results appropriately identify the subject you are studying. Without reliability and validity, an assessment can give a skewed and misleading view of whatever topic is being discussed.
Conflict of interest is a growing concern in assessment. With pharmaceutical companies funding studies and other similar relationships in most areas where research is necessary, it is important to be open about any links that may create conflicts of interest and hopefully keep them to a minimum. These types of relationship compromise the objectivity in the researcher (APA, 2002). When funding for your work and your paycheck lay in the balance, it is easy to see what results would most benefit the researcher moving forward in their career. However, research results should be free from any obligation, including the preferences of the researcher themselves. Therefore, it is best to eliminate any ties to the research, which can sometimes be nearly impossible to do. As conflicts are bound to happen, it is most important to disclose any and all conflicts of interest to the appropriate audiences.
American Psychological Association (2002). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspxLinks to an external site.
Reynolds, C. R., & Livingston, R. B. (2013). Mastering modern psychological testing: Theory & methods. Pearson Higher Ed. ISBN-10: 020548350X • ISBN-13: 9780205483501
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