Get the Ethics and Psychology App

The Ethics and Psychology Android App is available through Google Play and Amazon Apps for Kindle products.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Case Against Empathy

By Derek Beres
BigThink.com
Originally posted September 29, 2014

It’s hard to imagine empathy being anything but beneficial. It has become one of the most championed mental states in the neuroscience age: the ability to feel what someone else is feeling and, if all goes well, extend a hand altruistically or compassionately.

This is the clean-cut version of empathy. I feel what you’re feeling; I get it. Thinkers call for empathy when facing international crises, such as continual turmoil in Gaza: if Israelis could just feel what it’s like to be a Palestinian mother, if the Hamas leader could just understand what a sympathetic Jewish father goes through, none of this would be happening.

Yale University professor of psychology and cognitive science Paul Bloom thinks a lot gray resides in such a black-and-white definition, and that there is more danger than good adopting such a simplistic view of empathy. He argues exactly this point in the latest issue of Boston Review.

The entire article is here.

God, Darwin and My College Biology Class

By David P. Barash
The New York Times Sunday Review
Originally published September 27, 2014

EVERY year around this time, with the college year starting, I give my students The Talk. It isn’t, as you might expect, about sex, but about evolution and religion, and how they get along. More to the point, how they don’t.

I’m a biologist, in fact an evolutionary biologist, although no biologist, and no biology course, can help being “evolutionary.” My animal behavior class, with 200 undergraduates, is built on a scaffolding of evolutionary biology.

And that’s where The Talk comes in. It’s irresponsible to teach biology without evolution, and yet many students worry about reconciling their beliefs with evolutionary science. Just as many Americans don’t grasp the fact that evolution is not merely a “theory,” but the underpinning of all biological science, a substantial minority of my students are troubled to discover that their beliefs conflict with the course material.

The entire article is here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Are Workplace Personality Tests Fair?

By Lauren Weber and Elizabeth Dwoskin
The Wall Street Journal
Originally posted September 29, 2014

Here is an excerpt:

Workplace personality testing has become a $500 million-a-year business and is growing by 10% to 15% a year, estimates Hogan Assessment Systems Inc., a Tulsa, Okla., testing company. Xerox Corp. says tests have reduced attrition in high-turnover customer-service jobs by 20 or more days in some cases. Dialog Direct, of Highland Park, Mich., says the testing software allows the call-center operator and manager to predict with 80% accuracy which employees will get the highest performance scores.

But the rise of personality tests has sparked growing scrutiny of their effectiveness and fairness. Some companies have scaled back, changed or eliminated their use of such tests. Civil-rights groups long focused on overt forms of workplace discrimination claim that data-driven algorithms powering the tests could make jobs harder to get for people who don't conform to rigid formulas.

The entire article is here.

Psychologist Whistleblower Threatened

By Sophie Borland
The Daily Mail Online
Originally posted September 25, 2014

A whistleblower says her career was destroyed by NHS managers after warning about how vulnerable patients were coming to severe harm.

Dr Hayley Dare, 42, a psychologist,even claims to have received a poison-pen letter from one of her bosses saying her children would suffer if she lost her job which also threatened: ‘You cannot win, you cannot beat us’.

She said conditions were so appalling at the mental health unit where she worked that one 72-year-old woman died after staff forgot about her.

The entire article is here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

College Counseling Centers Turn to Teletherapy to Treat Students for Anxiety

By Jared Misner
Sunoikisis via the Chronicle of Higher Education
Posted September 26, 2014

At the University of Florida, students struggling with anxiety can visit its counseling center and, after an initial, in-person consultation with a counselor, can elect to start a seven-week program called Therapist Assisted Online. The program works like an online course, complete with videos and online activities. Once a week, students meet with their specific counselor, one on one, through a videoconference for 10 to 15 minutes to discuss their anxiety.

That means students visit the counseling center only once and can do the rest from the comfort of their dormitory room. “They like the idea of being at home,” Brian C. Ess, a counselor at Florida’s Counseling and Wellness Center, says.

The entire article is here.

Please visit the Ethics and Psychology podcasts for Episodes 15 and 16, which addresses Ethics and Telepsychology.

Impressions of Misconduct: Graduate Students’ Perception of Faculty Ethical Violations in Scientist-Practitioner Clinical Psychology Programs

January, A. M., Meyerson, D. A., Reddy, L. F., Docherty, A. R., & Klonoff, E. A. (2014, August
25). Impressions of Misconduct: Graduate Students’ Perception of Faculty Ethical Violations
in Scientist-Practitioner Clinical Psychology Programs. Training and Education in Professional
Psychology. Advance online publication.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tep0000059

Abstract

Ethical conduct is a foundational element of professional competence, yet very little is known about how graduate student trainees perceive ethical violations committed by clinical faculty. Thus, the current study attempted to explore how perceived faculty ethical violations might affect graduate students and the training environment. Of the 374 graduate students in scientist-practitioner clinical psychology programs surveyed, nearly a third (n  121, 32.4%) reported knowledge of unethical faculty behavior. Students perceived a wide range of faculty behaviors as unethical. Perception of unethical faculty behavior was associated with decreased confidence in department faculty and lower perceived program climate.  Implications of these findings are discussed and recommendations offered.

The entire article is here.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Rebooting Philosophy

By Luciano Floridi
Oxford University Press's Blog
Originally published July 12, 2014

Here is an excerpt:

Philosophy is a bit like a computer with a memory leak. It starts well, dealing with significant and serious issues that matter to anyone. Yet, in time, its very success slows it down. Philosophy begins to care more about philosophers’ questions than philosophical ones, consuming increasing amount of intellectual attention. Scholasticism is the ultimate freezing of the system, the equivalent of Windows’ “blue screen of death”; so many resources are devoted to internal issues that no external input can be processed anymore, and the system stops. The world may be undergoing a revolution, but the philosophical discourse remains detached and utterly oblivious. Time to reboot the system.

Philosophical “rebooting” moments are rare. They are usually prompted by major transformations in the surrounding reality.

The entire article is here.

Anonymous peer-review comments may spark legal battle

By Kelly Servick
Science Insider
Originally posted September 22, 2014

The power of anonymous comments—and the liability of those who make them—is at the heart of a possible legal battle embroiling PubPeer, an online forum launched in October 2012 for anonymous, post publication peer review. A researcher who claims that comments on PubPeer caused him to lose a tenured faculty job offer now intends to press legal charges against the person or people behind these posts—provided he can uncover their identities, his lawyer says.

The issue first came to light in August, when PubPeer’s (anonymous) moderators announced that the site had received a “legal threat.” Today, they revealed that the scientist involved is Fazlul Sarkar, a cancer researcher at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Sarkar, an author on more than 500 papers and principal investigator for more than $1,227,000 in active grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, has, like many scientists, had his work scrutinized on PubPeer. More than 50 papers on which he is an author have received at least one comment from PubPeer users, many of whom point out potential inconsistencies in the papers’ figures, such as perceived similarities between images that are supposed to depict different experiments.

The entire article is here.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Accountability for Research Misconduct

By Zubin Master
Health Research, Research Ethics, Science Funding
Originally posted September 23, 2014

Here is an excerpt:

This case raises important questions about the responsibilities of research institutions to promote research integrity and to prevent research misconduct. Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford prison experiments and other social psychology research have taught us that ethical behavior is not only shaped by dispositional attribution (an internal moral character), but also by many situational (environmental) features. Similarly, our understanding of the cause of research misconduct is shifting away from the idea that this is just a problem of a few “bad apples” to a broader understanding of how the immense pressure to both publish and translate research findings into products, as well as poor institutional supports influence research misconduct.

This is not to excuse misbehaviour by researchers, but rather to shed light on the fact that institutions also bear moral responsibility for research misconduct. Thus far, institutions have taken few measures to promote research integrity and prevent research misconduct. Indeed, in many high profile cases of research misconduct, they remain virtually blameless.

The entire article is here.