- resolve conflicts of interest among our domains of practice, and that practice with the law;
- interact with our colleagues and clients in a way that guarantees they understand what we are doing, why we are doing it, and what we think the consequences of our collective actions might be;
- define the limits of our professional competence, as well as that of our colleagues and clients;
- and address any mistrust or harmful effects that arise from our professional conduct, and do so in a meaningful and timely fashion.
Been There, Done That: What Data Science Can Learn from Psychology by Kim Darnell on September 20, 2018 In the wake of recent revelations regarding misuses and abuses of personal data by a variety of well-known and successful companies, as well as the growing evidence that big data are being used to actively perpetuate and increase socioeconomic inequality, it might seem like data science as a discipline has wandered so far down a dark ethical path that there is no clear map to recovery. Image credit: Getty Images As a professor of psychology and a data scientist, however, I see something very different: A young field that is still trying to figure out how to maximize its potential in a fast-paced, dynamic world while still following a stable, practical moral compass. Psychology was there once, too, performing highly controversial studies, such as the Milgram experiment, which showed everyday Americans that, like their counterparts in Nazi Germany, they would engage in the potentially life-threatening torture of strangers if instructed to do so by an authority figure. Or the Stanford prison experiment, which revealed that even the most privileged among us can become predators or prey at the flip of a coin when placed in a prison environment. Image credit: Yale University Manuscript and Archives Today, data scientists and those who employ them are struggling publicly, if not painfully, to find the right balance between getting the data they want while respecting the rights of those they get the data from. Fortunately, psychology can offer a detailed and time-tested framework for making that struggle less difficult. In the United States, any licensed psychologist or employee of a training program approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) is bound by the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, also known as the APA Code of Ethics. This code is centered on five principles that are intended to “guide and inspire … toward the very highest ethical ideals of the profession.” They include A) Beneficence and Nonmaleficence, B) Fidelity and Responsibility, C) Integrity, D) Justice, and E) Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity. Taken together, these principles and the rules they give rise to govern psychologists’ behavior in all areas of professional practice (e.g., therapy, research, education, public service) and describe how we must: