Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Weary of Relativity

By Frank Bruni
The New York Times
Originally posted May 23, 2015

Here are two excerpts:

Then there’s the moral jujitsu that American voters have become especially adept at in these polarized times. Many of them unreservedly exalt their party’s emissary — and inoculate him or her from disparagement — simply because he or she represents the alternative to someone from the other side. Being the lesser of evils is confused with being virtuous, though it’s a far, far cry from that.


There are standards to which government, religion and higher education should be held. There are examples that politicians and principled business people should endeavor to set, regardless of whether their peers are making that effort. There’s right and wrong, not just better or worse.

And there’s a word for recognizing and rising to that: leadership. We could use more of it.

The entire article is here.

The Pope on Climate Change, Science, and Morality

By Angela Anderson
The Equation: a blog on independent science + practical solutions
Originally published June 12, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Sustainability and climate change are not political and economic issues — they are moral issues

News reports indicate that the encyclical will assert that sustainability and climate change are not political and economic issues — they are moral issues. It will point to harm to human beings that result from climate change – from reduced drinking water availability to growing hunger to complete inundation of communities — and sometimes entire countries — by rising seas. The encyclical will also bring a theological lens to the politicized climate conversation, citing scripture that links God’s greatness with the grandeur of the earth; calling for stewardship, and calling out the failure to protect the earth as sacrilegious. And it will reaffirm that the burden of climate change or attempts to deal with climate change should not be borne solely by the poor – those whom Jesus called “the least of these” – but should be shouldered by those to whom the most has been given.

The entire article is here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Humans did not invent morality says study showing moral behaviour in rats

By Jayalakshmi K
Originally published June 8, 2015

Humans probably inherited morality rather than invented it, suggests an experiment showing that rats can be as morally strong as humans.

The rodents tend to help out fellow rats, even in situations where they do not stand to lose anything by refusing help.

This demonstration of prosocial behaviour seen in the new experiment led the researchers to suggest biological mechanisms probably evolved to keep a group of individuals together.

The entire article is here.

When the Therapist Is a Quack

By Olga Khazan
The Atlantic
Originally published June 4, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Some conversion therapy practitioners are bona-fide psychologists or counselors. But many operate on the fringes, pitching themselves either as religious mentors or, in Downing’s case, as mere “coaches.” In some ways, the rise of therapeutic-sounding titles like “life coach”—with its patina of personal growth and near absence of accountability—has allowed conversion therapy to flourish.

“To my knowledge there is no regulation of the [life coach] title, nor are they licensed by any state,” said Jack Drescher, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who helped write the American Psychological Association’s reports on conversion therapies. “As far as I know, life coaches can say and do pretty much whatever they want.” In most states, he added, even the title of "therapist" is not regulated: Anyone who wants to hang a shingle, can.

The entire article is here.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Episode 22: Ethics and Skills for Psychologist as Supervisor-Post-Doctoral Supervision

Podcasts 21, 22, and 23 will provide supervisors and supervisees with an understanding of the skills and ethical issues surrounding supervision, including the Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology’s Regulations dealing with postdoctoral supervision. The workshop will review the basic requirements for ethical supervision, common pitfalls, and give supervisors an understanding of the requirements that must be met for obtaining post-doctoral supervision.

In this episode, John's guest is John Jay Mills, Ph.D., ABPP, a psychologist and professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Samuel J. Knapp, Ed.D., ABPP, psychologist and Professional Affairs Officer at the Pennsylvania Psychological Association.

At the end of the podcast series the participants will be able to:

1.  Describe essential factors involved in ethically sound and effective supervision;
2.  List or identify the State Board of Psychology requirements for post-doctoral supervision.
3.  Explain ways to improve supervisee's level of competence, self-reflection, and professionalism; &
4.  Identify strategies to comply with the Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology regulations on supervision of post-doctoral trainees.

The associated SlideShare presentation can be found here.

The YouTube video can be found here.

PA § 41.33. Supervisor requirements

PA § 41.32. Experience qualifications to become a psychologist

Verification of Post-doctoral Experience from the Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Is God Necessary for Morality?

The Veritas Forum
William Lane Craig and Shelly Kagan
Published on June 24, 2014

In the midst of a largely secular university and a highly pluralistic nation, the Columbia community is home to widely varying notions of how a "good life" is to be lived. Dr. William Lane Craig adds to the conversation by questioning the common assumption that the existence of God is not necessary for morality. "Can we really be good apart from God?" Yale philosopher Dr. Shelly Kagan defends the idea of morality without God in a debate with Dr. Craig that questions the basis of many views that are held today. A Q&A session with the audience follows the debate.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Rein It In, Dr Oz

By Art Caplan
Originally published April 30, 2015

Dr Mehmet Oz is in trouble again. He was accused by 10 physicians in a letter of promoting quackery. They demanded that Columbia University Medical Center fire Dr Oz. Now, I can say with some authority that as "America's Doctor"—the person who, for many Americans, is the voice of medicine—he is not going to be fired. His show is not going to end. That isn't going to happen.

Dr Oz has evoked this response from these 10 physicians because he continues to push the border of legitimacy on his shows with respect to touting things for which there isn't much evidence. And that is a problem. Many doctors tell me that when Dr Oz endorses something—green coffee beans, some neti pot to cure the common cold—whatever it is, they are going to be asked about it, and their patients run out and buy it. He has enormous power when it comes to the platform he has built. And let's face it: He is an effective communicator. His show is fun to watch. I understand why the American people are paying attention to Dr Oz.

The entire article is here.

Have You Ever Been Wrong?

By Peter Wehner
Originally posted June 6, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

“Thus,” Mr. Mehlman writes, “policy positions were not driving partisanship, but rather partisanship was driving policy positions. Voters took whichever position was ascribed to their party, irrespective of the specific policies that position entailed.”

So what explains this? Some of it probably has to do with deference. Many people don’t follow public policy issues very closely — but they do know whose team they’re on. And so if their team endorses a particular policy, they’re strongly inclined to as well. They assume the position merits support based on who (and who does not) supports it.

The flip side of this is mistrust. If you’re a Democrat and you are told about the details of a Republican plan, you might automatically assume it’s a bad one (the same goes for how a Republican would receive a Democratic plan). If a party you despise holds a view on a certain issue, your reflex will be to hold that opposite view.

The entire article is here.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory

By Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber
Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2011) 34, 57 –111


Reasoning is generally seen as a means to improve knowledge and make better decisions. However, much evidence shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. This suggests that the function of reasoning should be rethought.  Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade.  Reasoning so conceived is adaptive given the exceptional dependence of humans on communication and their vulnerability to misinformation. A wide range of evidence in the psychology of reasoning and decision making can be reinterpreted and better explained in the light of this hypothesis. Poor performance in standard reasoning tasks is explained by the lack of argumentative context. When the same problems are placed in a proper argumentative setting, people turn out to be skilled arguers. Skilled arguers, however, are not after the truth but after arguments supporting their views. This explains the notorious confirmation bias.  This bias is apparent not only when people are actually arguing, but also when they are reasoning proactively from the perspective of having to defend their opinions. Reasoning so motivated can distort evaluations and attitudes and allow erroneous beliefs to
persist. Proactively used reasoning also favors decisions that are easy to justify but not necessarily better. In all these instances traditionally described as failures or flaws, reasoning does exactly what can be expected of an argumentative device: Look for arguments that support a given conclusion, and, ceteris paribus, favor conclusions for which arguments can be found.

The entire article is here.

Compassion fatigue resiliency training: the experience of facilitators

Potter P, Pion S, Gentry JE.
J Contin Educ Nurs. 2015 Feb;46(2):83-8.
doi: 10.3928/00220124-20151217-03


This qualitative evaluation examined compassion fatigue facilitators' perceptions of the effects of a compassion fatigue resiliency training program in an urban medical center in the midwestern United States. Nine months after completing a compassion fatigue resiliency facilitator training program, 15 participants wrote short narratives describing how the program affected them. Participants described how the training program benefited them both personally and professionally. Two main themes were identified from the narrative analysis: self-improvement and application of resiliency. All of the participants described one or more self-improvements as a result of the program, particularly in regard to emotional health. All of the participants also described how they regularly applied one or more of the resiliency skills taught in the class to improve their ability to manage stress and prevent compassion fatigue. This program shows promise in ameliorating compassion fatigue and burnout in health care providers.

The entire article is here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Philosophy (Psychology): Personal Identity

Wireless Philosophy
Published on Jun 8, 2015

Using the method of experimental philosophy, Nina Strohminger (Yale University) and Shaun Nichols (University of Arizona) compare philosophical and everyday answers to the question "Which aspect of the self is most essential for personal identity?"

Dr. Nina Strohminger was kind enough to share thoughts on her research in the Ethics and Psychology podcast: The Moral Self, Moral Injury, and Moral Emotions.

Remembering a Just World: Motivated Recall of Victim Culpability

Sahil Sharma
New York University

Research over the last 30 years has demonstrated that individuals will often blame the victim for his or her misfortune. Just World Theory (Lerner, 1980) argues that individuals do so because they are
motivated to perceive their world as fair and just. Gender seems to moderate the effect of Belief in a Just World (BJW) on victim blame. Conflicting evidence suggests that this motivation affects women in different ways from men—she either blames the victim more (Janoff-Bulman, 1980) when there is a threat to the just world or less (Foley & Pigot, 2000) regardless of threat. It is less clear whether just world concerns impact recall of actual victim culpability. In this paper, we investigate whether individuals misremember information about victim responsibility for a sexual assault in order to satisfy the goal to believe that the world is just. We hypothesize that individuals whose just world motive has been experimentally heightened will be more likely to misremember details of a sexual assault in a way that confers responsibility on the victim. Results showed that memory mediates victim-blame. Men, when faced with a high threat to their belief in a just world, blamed the victim more than did women and misremembered the victimization of a female to inculcate greater blame.

The entire paper is here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

UO whistleblowers: giving student's confidential therapy records to campus lawyers felt wrong

By Richard Read
The Oregonian
Originally posted June 4, 2015

The executive assistant to the director of the University of Oregon's Counseling Center disobeyed instructions last December and showed a therapist a confidential email from their boss.

The email's directions horrified both Karen Stokes, the director's assistant, and Jennifer Morlok, the clinician.

Shelly Kerr, the center's director, told Stokes in the Dec. 8, 2014, message to give the university's legal office a client's entire case file -- including notes taken by Morlok during private therapy sessions.

The client was a UO freshman who says she was gang raped multiple times on March 8, 2014, by three members of the men's basketball team.

Normally mental-health professionals go to great lengths, even in the face of court orders, to release as little information about clients as possible. Clinicians want patients to feel safe expressing their most intimate thoughts and feelings during therapy.

The entire article is here.

Increased Grey Matter in Those With Higher Levels of Moral Reasoning

Neuroscience News
Originally published June 3, 2015

Research from Penn scientists and business scholars aims to link moral reasoning with brain architecture.

Individuals with a higher level of moral reasoning skills showed increased gray matter in the areas of the brain implicated in complex social behavior, decision making, and conflict processing as compared to subjects at a lower level of moral reasoning, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with a researcher from Charité Universitätsmediz in Berlin, Germany. The team studied students in the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program at the Wharton School. The work is published in the June 3rd edition of the journal PLOS ONE.

The article is here.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Attack on Truth

We have entered an age of willful ignorance

By Lee McIntyre
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Originally published June 8, 2015

To see how we treat the concept of truth these days, one might think we just don’t care anymore. Politicians pronounce that global warming is a hoax. An alarming number of middle-class parents have stopped giving their children routine vaccinations, on the basis of discredited research. Meanwhile many commentators in the media — and even some in our universities — have all but abandoned their responsibility to set the record straight. (It doesn’t help when scientists occasionally have to retract their own work.)

Humans have always held some wrongheaded beliefs that were later subject to correction by reason and evidence. But we have reached a watershed moment, when the enterprise of basing our beliefs on fact rather than intuition is truly in peril.

It’s not just garden-variety ignorance that periodically appears in public-opinion polls that makes us cringe or laugh. A 2009 survey by the California Academy of Sciences found that only 53 percent of American adults knew how long it takes for Earth to revolve around the sun. Only 59 percent knew that the earliest humans did not live at the same time as the dinosaurs.

The entire article is here.

Episode 21: Ethics and Skills for Psychologist as Supervisor-Post-Doctoral Supervision

Podcasts 21, 22, and 23 will provide supervisors and supervisees with an understanding of the skills and ethical issues surrounding supervision, including the Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology’s Regulations dealing with postdoctoral supervision. The workshop will review the basic requirements for ethical supervision, common pitfalls, and give supervisors an understanding of the requirements that must be met for obtaining post-doctoral supervision.  

In this episode, John's guest is John Jay Mills, Ph.D., ABPP, a psychologist and professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

At the end of the podcast series the participants will be able to:

1.  Describe essential factors involved in ethically sound and effective supervision;
2.  List or identify the State Board of Psychology requirements for post-doctoral supervision;
3.  Explain ways to improve supervisee's level of competence, self-reflection, and professionalism; &
4.  Identify strategies to comply with the Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology regulations on supervision of post-doctoral trainees. 

The associated SlideShare presentation can be found here.

Link to the YouTube Video here.

PA § 41.33. Supervisor requirements

PA § 41.32. Experience qualifications to become a psychologist

Verification of Post-doctoral Experience from the Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology

Sunday, June 21, 2015

How the brain makes decisions

Science Simplified
Originally published on May 25, 2015

Here are two excerpts:

The results of the study drew three major conclusions. First, that human decision-making can perform just as well as current sophisticated computer models under non-Markovian conditions, such as the presence of a switch-state. This is a significant finding in our current efforts to model the human brain and develop artificial intelligence systems.

Secondly, that delayed feedback significantly impairs human decision-making and learning, even though it does not impact the performance of computer models, which have perfect memory. In the second experiment, it took human participants ten times more attempts to correctly recall and assign arrows to icons. Feedback is a crucial element of decision-making and learning. We set a goal, make a decision about how to achieve it, act accordingly, and then find out whether or not our goal was met. In some cases, e.g. learning to ride a bike, feedback on every decision we make for balancing, pedaling, braking etc. is instant: either we stay up and going, or we fall down. But in many other cases, such as playing backgammon, feedback is significantly delayed; it can take a while to find out if each move has led us to victory or not.

The entire article is here.

Source Material:

Clarke AM, Friedrich J, Tartaglia EM, Marchesotti S, Senn W, Herzog MH. Human and Machine Learning in Non-Markovian Decision Making. PLoS One 21 April 2015.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Mind Over Masters: The Question of Free Will

World Science Festival
Originally streamed May 30, 2015

Do we make conscious decisions? Or, as many scientists and philosophers argue, are all of our actions predetermined? And if they are predetermined—if we don't have free will—are we responsible for what we do? These are questions that have been debated for centuries, but now neurotechnology is allowing scientists to study brain activity neuron by neuron to try to determine how and when our brains decide to act. With neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers we’ll use the latest findings to explore the question of just how much agency we have in the world, and how the answer impacts our ethics, our behavior, and our society.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Why Free Will Makes No Sense

By Daniel Miessler
Originally posted June 3, 2015

In this short presentation I discuss the flaws with the common and Compatibilist views on Free Will. It covers the following topics:

Absolute and Practical Free Will
Experience is Not Reality
Moral Responsibility
The Ability to Do Otherwise
Real-world Implications of Discarding Free Will

Emerging Ethical Threats to Client Privacy in Cloud Communication and Data Storage.

By Samuel D. Lustgarten
Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Apr 27 , 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pro0000018


In June 2013, Edward Snowden released top-secret intelligence documents that detailed a domestic U.S. spying apparatus. This article reviews and contends that current APA ethics and record-keeping guidelines, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act do not adequately account for this new information and other emerging threats to client confidentiality. As psychologists bear the responsibility for being informed, protecting and maintaining client records, and preventing breaches, it is vital that the field establish specific best practices and present regular security updates to colleagues.

Here is an excerpt:

Unfortunately, on top of data-mining practices, most cloud storage and communication providers do not provide adequate information about data-retention policies. Google's Drive cloud storage service for personal users (not Google Apps) offers no specific data-retention policy (Google, 2014c). This amorphous data-retention policy stands in contrast to APA's (2007) record-keeping guidelines, which suggest that client records and data may be destroyed after 7 years in the absence of superseding legal requirements. It also calls into question a practitioner's ability to maintain and provide confidentiality and proper informed consent when using certain corporate providers. Moreover, it is questionable whether practitioners could ever believe that records had been deleted if the cloud provider did not clearly and publicly state its data-retention standards.

The entire article is here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The cheapest way to end homelessness is ridiculously simple

By Drake Baer
Business Insider
Originally published May 28, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

What's counterintuitive about housing first is that people get to keep their homes even if they keep using drugs or alcohol. As we reported last February, this method is better at keeping people from lapsing back into homelessness than traditional housing methods, where homeless people have to lock down jobs and stay sober to keep their temporary housing.

So you could say that the Housing First method isn't just more compassionate to the people who suffer from homelessness, it's also more effective at keeping them off the streets and preventing the drain on community funds.

"If you move people into permanent supportive housing first, and then give them help, it seems to work better,” Nan Roman, the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Homelessness, told The New Yorker in September. “It's intuitive, in a way. People do better when they have stability."

The entire article is here.

Editorial retraction

By Marcia McNutt
Science Magazine
Originally posted on May 28, 2015

Science, with the concurrence of author Donald P. Green, is retracting the 12 December 2014 Report “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality” by LaCour and Green.

The reasons for retracting the paper are as follows: (i) Survey incentives were misrepresented. To encourage participation in the survey, respondents were claimed to have been given cash payments to enroll, to refer family and friends, and to complete multiple surveys. In correspondence received from Michael J. LaCour’s attorney, he confirmed that no such payments were made. (ii) The statement on sponsorship was false. In the Report, LaCour acknowledged funding from the Williams Institute, the Ford Foundation, and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund. Per correspondence from LaCour’s attorney, this statement was not true.

In addition to these known problems, independent researchers have noted certain statistical irregularities in the responses (2). LaCour has not produced the original survey data from which someone else could independently confirm the validity of the reported findings.

Michael J. LaCour does not agree to this Retraction.

Published online 28 May 2015


Here is the article

When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality
Michael J. LaCour and Donald P. Green
Science 12 December 2014: 1366-1369.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tim Cook says privacy is an issue of morality

By Chris Matyszczyk
Originally posted on June 3, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Cook, though, presented the issue in deeply political terms. He said: "We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. The American people demand it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it."

Morality is a feast that moves as it's eaten. It's admirable that Cook would appeal to our moral core, but how much is there left? And how many can identify it?

The entire article is here.

“Should I feel badly that I acted unethically?”

By Craig Klugman
Originally posted May 29, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

At the base of this whole scenario is the concept that medicine is a business and businesses need to know what their competitors are doing. Unethical businesses try to increase market share not by producing a better product or service, but by undermining their competition. Aside from the medical ethics issues in this case, there is a very basic business ethics concern: Do not harm another to further your own interest. One of the most important professional values in medicine is altruism—that your choices and behaviors are for the benefit of another, not yourself. Roger loses sight of that when he only sees a problem when he feels personally threatened. Altruism is a basic component of a profession. Medicine is a profession. Business is not. Thus, in this situation the values of medicine and the values of business collide.

The corporatization of medicine as a center of profit has lost sight of the goal, which is to help people in need. That a non-medical professional would open a clinic “as a side business” is disturbing. Medicine should not be a way for one to achieve wealth, but rather be a way to be a servant to the community. Business ethics should always come second to medical ethics in a healing environment.

The entire article is here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Affective basis of judgment-behavior discrepancy in virtual experiences of moral dilemmas

I. Patil, C. Cogoni, N. Zangrando, L. Chittaro, and G. Silani
Social Neuroscience, 2014
Vol. 9, No. 1, 94-107


Although research in moral psychology in the last decade has relied heavily on hypothetical moral dilemmas and has been effective in understanding moral judgment, how these judgments translate into behaviors remains a largely unexplored issue due to the harmful nature of the acts involved. To study this link, we follow a new approach based on a desktop virtual reality environment. In our within-subjects experiment, participants exhibited an order-dependent judgment-behavior discrepancy across temporally separated sessions, with many of them behaving in utilitarian manner in virtual reality dilemmas despite their nonutilitarian judgments for the same dilemmas in textual descriptions. This change in decisions reflected in the autonomic arousal of participants, with dilemmas in virtual reality being perceived more emotionally arousing than the ones in text, after controlling for general differences between the two presentation modalities (virtual reality vs. text). This suggests that moral decision-making in hypothetical moral dilemmas is susceptible to contextual saliency of the presentation of these dilemmas.

The entire article is here.

The Coming Merge of Human and Machine Intelligence

By Jeff Stibel
Tufts Now
Originally published May 22, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

The reason that our brains are shrinking is simple: our biology is focused on survival, not intelligence. Larger brains were necessary to allow us to learn to use language, tools and all of the innovations that allowed our species to thrive. But now that we have become civilized—domesticated, if you will—certain aspects of intelligence are less necessary.

This is actually true of all animals: domesticated animals, including dogs, cats, hamsters and birds, have 10 to 15 percent smaller brains than their counterparts in the wild. Because brains are so expensive to maintain, large brain sizes are selected out when nature sees no direct survival benefit. It is an inevitable fact of life.

Fortunately, another influence has evolved over the past 20,000 years that is making us smarter even as our brains are shrinking: technology. Technology has allowed us to leapfrog evolution, enabling our brains and bodies to do things that were otherwise impossible biologically. We weren’t born with wings, but we’ve created airplanes, helicopters, hot air balloons and hang gliders. We don’t have sufficient natural strength or speed to bring down big game, but we’ve created spears, rifles and livestock farms.

The entire article is here.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The increasing lifestyle use of modafinil by healthy people: safety and ethical issues

By Sebastian Porsdam-Mann & Barbara J Sahakian
Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Volume 4, August 2015, Pages 136–141

Pharmacological cognitive enhancers (PCEs) are used in the treatment of a variety of disorders, including targeting cognitive impairment and sleep abnormalities. Evidence suggests that PCEs also enhance cognition in healthy individuals. PCEs have attracted considerable interest recently, particularly from students, academics and the military. Proponents of PCE use in healthy people argue that these substances may be used to reduce fatigue-related and work-related accidents and improve learning outcomes.

In this article, safety concerns as well as ethical issues of fairness and coercion are considered. Discussion amongst experts in the field, government officials and members of society on the topic of the increasing lifestyle use of PCEs in healthy people is urgently needed.

The entire article is here.

Understanding ordinary unethical behavior: why people who value morality act immorally

by Francesca Gino
Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Volume 3, June 2015, Pages 107–111

Cheating, deception, organizational misconduct, and many other forms of unethical behavior are among the greatest challenges in today's society. As regularly highlighted by the media, extreme cases and costly scams (e.g., Enron, Bernard Madoff) are common. Yet, even more frequent and pervasive are cases of ‘ordinary’ unethical behavior — unethical actions committed by people who value about morality but behave unethically when faced with an opportunity to cheat. A growing body of research in behavioral ethics and moral psychology shows that even good people (i.e., people who care about being moral) can and often do bad things. Examples include cheating on taxes, deceiving in interpersonal relationships, overstating performance and contributions to teamwork, inflating business expense reports, and lying in negotiations.

When considered cumulatively, ordinary unethical behavior causes considerable societal damage. For instance, employee theft causes U.S. companies to lose approximately $52 billion per year [4]. This empirical evidence is striking in light of social–psychological research that, for decades, has robustly shown that people typically value honesty, believe strongly in their own morality, and strive to maintain a positive self-image as moral individuals.

The entire article is here.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Evolutionary Roots of Morality and Professional Ethics

By John Gavazzi
Originally published in The Pennsylvania Psychologist

          Every aspect of human existence stems from biological and cultural evolution.  Even though evolutionary psychology is not a priority for clinical psychologists, the goal of this article is to highlight the evolutionary roots of human morals and professional ethics.  At the broadest level possible, morality is defined as the ability to differentiate between right and wrong or good and bad.  Most research in moral psychology highlights that many moral decisions are based on emotional responses and cognitive intuitions of right and wrong.  Moral judgments are typically affective, rapid, instinctive and unconscious.  The speedy cognitive processes and emotional responses are shortcuts intended to respond to environmental demands quickly and effectively.  Most individuals do not take long to determine if abortion is right or not; or if same-sex marriage is right or not.  How are our morals a function of evolution?

  Primatologist Frans de Waal (2013) attempted to answer this question in his book, The Bonobo and The Atheist.  The book is based on his work studying primates as well as other animals, like elephants.  According to de Waal, morality originated within animal relationships first, prior to homo sapiens culture.  He used observations to determine if there are any similarities between primates and humans in terms of morality.  Both are social creatures who depend on relationships to function more effectively in the world.  In order for primates to cooperate, form relationships, and work as groups, reciprocity and empathy are the two essential “pillars of morality” reported by de Wall.  Reciprocity encompasses the bidirectional nature of relationships, including concepts such as give and take, returning favors, and playing fairly.  Empathy, defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, can occur at both the cognitive and affective levels.  In terms of cognitive empathy, a person or a primate needs to have the mental capacity to understand another group members’ perspective.  People and primates also need to gage or feel the emotions of others.  As an example of empathy, humans and primates can both see emotional pain in others, demonstrate distress at what they are witnessing, and seek to console the sufferer.

The entire article is here.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Biological Biases Can Be Detrimental to Effective Treatment

By John Gavazzi
Originally published in The Pennsylvania Psychologist

During workshops on ethical decision-making, I typically take time to highlight cognitive and emotional factors that adversely affect clinical judgment and impede high quality psychotherapy.  In terms of cognitive heuristics that hamper effective treatment, the list includes the Fundamental Attribution Error, Trait Negativity Bias, the Availability Heuristic, and the Dunning-Krueger Effect.  Emotionally, a psychologist’s fear, anxiety, or disgust (also known as countertransference) can obstruct competent clinical judgment.  A PowerPoint presentation providing more details on these topics is on my SlideShare account found here.

Research from cognitive science and moral psychology demonstrates many of these heuristics and emotional reactions are automatic, intuitive, and unconscious.  The cognitive heuristics and emotional responses are shortcuts intended to evaluate and respond to environmental demands quickly and efficiently, which is not always conducive for optimal clinical judgment and ethical decision-making.  For better or worse, these cognitive and affective strategies are part of what makes us human.  It is incumbent upon psychologists to be aware of these limitations and work hard to remediate them in our professional roles.

Recent research by Lebowitz and Ahn (2014) provides insight into another cognitive bias that leads to potentially detrimental emotional responses.  Their research illustrates how a clinician’s perception as to the causes of mental health problems can undesirably influence his or her perceptions of patients.  The authors chose to investigate clinicians’ perceptions of patients when using a biological model of mental disorders.  The biological model supports the belief that genetics play an important role in the creation of mental distress; that central nervous system dysfunction is the most important component of the mental health disorder; and, because of these biological origins, a patient’s thoughts and behaviors are largely outside of the patient’s control.

The entire article is here.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Confirmation Bias and the Limits of Human Knowledge

By Peter Wehner
Commentary Magazine
Originally published May 27, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Confirmation bias is something we can easily identify in others but find very difficult to detect in ourselves. (If you finish this piece thinking only of the blindness of those who disagree with you, you are proving my point.) And while some people are far more prone to it than others, it’s something none of us is fully free of. We all hold certain philosophical assumptions, whether we’re fully aware of them or not, and they create a prism through which we interpret events. Often those assumptions are not arrived at through empiricism; they are grounded in moral intuitions. And moral intuitions, while not sub-rational, are shaped by things other than facts and figures. “The heart has its reasons which reason itself does not know,” Pascal wrote. And often the heart is right.

Without such core intuitions, we could not hope to make sense of the world. But these intuitions do not stay broad and implicit: we use them to make concrete judgments in life. The consequences of those judgments offer real-world tests of our assumptions, and if we refuse to learn from the results then we have no hope of improving our judgments in the future.

The entire article is here.

Anticipating and Resisting the Temptation to Behave Unethically

Oliver J. Sheldon and Ayelet Fishbach
Published online before print May 22, 2015
doi: 10.1177/0146167215586196


Ethical dilemmas pose a self-control conflict between pursuing immediate benefits through behaving dishonestly and pursuing long-term benefits through acts of honesty. Therefore, factors that facilitate self-control for other types of goals (e.g., health and financial) should also promote ethical behavior. Across four studies, we find support for this possibility. Specifically, we find that only under conditions that facilitate conflict identification—including the consideration of several decisions simultaneously (i.e., a broad decision frame) and perceived high connectedness to the future self—does anticipating a temptation to behave dishonestly in advance promote honesty. We demonstrate these interaction patterns between conflict identification and temptation anticipation in negotiation situations (Study 1), lab tasks (Study 2), and ethical dilemmas in the workplace (Studies 3-4). We conclude that identifying a self-control conflict and anticipating a temptation are two necessary preconditions for ethical decision making.

The article story is here.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Goal-directed, habitual and Pavlovian prosocial behavior

Filip Gęsiarz and Molly J. Crockett
Front. Behav. Neurosci., 27 May 2015


In this review we summarized evidence showing how the RLDM framework can integrate diverse findings describing what motivates prosocial behaviors. We suggested that the goal-directed system, given sufficient time and cognitive resources, weighs the costs of prosocial behaviors against their benefits, and chooses the action that best serves one’s goals, whether they be to merely maintain a good reputation or to genuinely enhance the welfare of another. We also suggested that to appreciate some of the benefits of other-regarding acts, such as the possibility of reciprocity, agents must have a well-developed theory of mind and an ability to foresee the cumulative value of future actions—both of which seem to involve model-based computations.

Furthermore, we reviewed findings demonstrating that the habitual system encodes the consequences of social interactions in the form of prediction errors and uses these signals to update the expected value of actions. Repetition of prosocial acts, resulting in positive outcomes, gradually increases their expected value and can lead to the formation of prosocial habits, which are performed without regard to their consequences. We speculated that the expected value of actions on a subjective level might be experienced as a ‘warm glow’ (Andreoni, 1990), linking our proposition to the behavioral economics literature. We also suggested that the notion of prosocial habits shares many features of the social heuristics hypothesis (Rand et al., 2014), implying that the habitual system could be a possible neurocognitive mechanism explaining the expression of social heuristics.

Finally, we have posited that the Pavlovian system, in response to another’s distress cues, evokes an automatic approach response towards stimuli enhancing another’s well-being—even if that response brings negative consequences.

The entire article is here.

Interview with Dan Ariely

Featured Collaborator of the Month with www.ethicalsystems.org
Originally published on April 24, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Why are cheating and dishonesty so widespread?

They are part of human nature. We have this incredible balance between honesty and dishonesty. We are taught from a young age to be dishonest in the social realm. We are taught not to tell people that they smell, or that it was the train that made us late instead of us being lazy, if people have a new haircut we say that it is very nice. We learn in the social realm that cheating is in fact desirable to some degree and then we move to the business / professional realm.

Now the rules are different. Now dishonesty is not as good. We don't separate those. Modern society creates a situation where the overlap between our social and professional lives are very high. All of a sudden, the people you interact with socially are the same as you interact with non socially, i.e. in your professional life. These tradeoffs become complex.

It is also important to realize that dishonesty is also about short term vs. long term. Saying something dishonest is a good solution in the short term but not necessarily in the long term, but we don't make this trade off correctly. For example, you say "I love your work" or "Your presentation as great," but then you get stuck with listening to, or having to fix, more of it. Much like other activities we over focus on the short term.

The entire article is here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here's How.

By John Bohannon
Originally published May 27, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Here’s a dirty little science secret: If you measure a large number of things about a small number of people, you are almost guaranteed to get a “statistically significant” result. Our study included 18 different measurements—weight, cholesterol, sodium, blood protein levels, sleep quality, well-being, etc.—from 15 people. (One subject was dropped.) That study design is a recipe for false positives.

Think of the measurements as lottery tickets. Each one has a small chance of paying off in the form of a “significant” result that we can spin a story around and sell to the media. The more tickets you buy, the more likely you are to win. We didn’t know exactly what would pan out—the headline could have been that chocolate improves sleep or lowers blood pressure—but we knew our chances of getting at least one “statistically significant” result were pretty good.

Whenever you hear that phrase, it means that some result has a small p value. The letter p seems to have totemic power, but it’s just a way to gauge the signal-to-noise ratio in the data. The conventional cutoff for being “significant” is 0.05, which means that there is just a 5 percent chance that your result is a random fluctuation. The more lottery tickets, the better your chances of getting a false positive. So how many tickets do you need to buy?

The whole article on the scam research that fooled millions is here.

The Gray Areas Of Assisted Suicide

By April Dembosky
Kaiser Health News
Originally published May 21, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

People don’t talk about it, but it happens. Just over 3 percent of U.S. doctors said they have written a prescription for life-ending medication, according to an anonymous survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1998. Almost 5 percent of doctors reported giving a patient a lethal injection.

Other studies suggest oncologists, and doctors on the West Coast, are more likely to be asked for life-ending medication, or euthanasia, in which the doctor administers the lethal dose.

“Those practices are undercover. They are covert,” says Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, an advocacy group. “To the degree that patients are part of the decision-making, it is by winks and nods.”

Coombs Lee’s organization helped tell the story of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman who moved from California to Oregon to be able to end her life legally after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Now the organization is backing legislation in California to make it legal for doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients who request it.

The entire article is here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Who polices the 'Ethics Police'?

By Robert Klitzman
Originally posted May 26, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Most people take for granted is that some protective mechanism -- laws or watchdogs -- ensures that experiments are ethical. Indeed, research ethics committees or institutional review boards (IRBs) do review all human experiments. But they have become increasingly controversial.

Why? In part because they operate behind closed doors and, scientists now argue, often stymy, rather than support key studies.

Investigators commonly call IRBs "the Ethics Police" and complain that these boards unnecessarily block or delay studies. As a researcher, I, too, have sometimes been frustrated by them.

Yet despite the controversy in the field, the public knows little about them, despite how they affect all our lives.

The entire article is here.

Danger: Electronic Records Ahead

By Stephen A. Ragusea, Psy. D., ABPP
The National Psychologist

Some 30 years ago, I was building a psychiatric hospital in central Pennsylvania and we discussed the possibility of starting-up the new facility’s operation with all electronic records. It was the early days of computer use but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Ultimately, we decided against the plan because we couldn’t find a technical mechanism to guaranty the security of patient records against the threat of unauthorized access.

That was a long time ago.

The truth is that not much has changed in the last three decades regarding computer security, except for one thing: Our society seems to have decided that open health records are more important than confidentiality.

As a society, we not only keep our records electronically, but we increasingly are making those records available to anybody with a password. There are real advantages to that kind of system for cardiac patients in crisis. But, making psychological records available in such a system would scare the hell out of me; it would be extraordinarily dangerous and fraught with unintended consequences.

The entire article is here.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Is Morality Innate?

By Jesse J. Prinz
Forthcoming in W. Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology. Oxford University Press

Here is an excerpt:

The link between morality and human nature has been a common theme since ancient times, and, with the rise of modern empirical moral psychology, it remains equally popular today. Evolutionary ethicists, ethologists, developmental psychologists, social neuroscientists, and even some cultural
anthropologists tend to agree that morality is part of the bioprogram (e.g., Cosmides & Tooby, 1992; de Waal, 1996; Haidt & Joseph, 2004; Hauser, 2006; Ruse, 1991; Sober & Wilson, 1998; Turiel, 2002). Recently, researchers have begun to look for moral modules in the brain, and they have been increasingly tempted to speculate about the moral acquisition device, and innate faculty for norm acquisition akin to celebrated language acquisition device, promulgated by Chomsky (Dwyer, 1999; Mikhail, 2000; Hauser, this volume). All this talk of modules and mechanism may make some shudder, especially if they recall that eugenics emerged out of an effort to find the biological sources of evil. Yet the tendency to postulate an innate moral faculty is almost irresistible. For one thing, it makes us appear nobler as a species, and for another, it offers an explanation of the fact that people in every corner of the globe seem to have moral rules. Moral nativism is, in this respect, an optimistic doctrine—one that makes our great big world seem comfortingly smaller.

The chapter is here.

Death Denial

By Marc Parry
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Originally published May 22, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

The terror trio’s conclusion: People react differently to conscious and unconscious thoughts of death. While thinking about death directly, Pyszczynski says, folks do rational things to get away from it, like trying to get healthy. It’s when death lurks on the fringes of consciousness that they cling to worldviews and seek self-esteem. "That helps explain why these ideas might seem strange to some people," says Pyszczynski, a professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. "You can’t really introspect on it. While you’re thinking about death, this isn’t what you do."

Pyszczynski, Solomon, and Greenberg published their work consistently in the prestigious Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. But early on, as Greenberg tells it, "its main impact was to get us ostracized by the rest of the field of social psychology." Part of that was due to the disconcerting subject matter. Colleagues referred to them as "the death guys."

The entire article is here.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Can self-preservation be virtuous in disaster situations?

By Justin Oakley
Journal of Medical Ethics 

Ordinary moral rules and virtues can be found seriously inadequate in circumstances where natural catastrophes afflict large numbers of people. Satoshi Kodama provides a strong defence of the rule of tsunami-tendenko being invoked as an evacuation policy in these exceptional situations, such as that facing many people in the Tōhoku region of Japan during the severe earthquake and subsequent tsunami there on 11 March 2011.1 As Kodama explains, tsunami-tendenko tells a person in such situations to prioritise self-preservation over attempting to help others, and people living in earthquake-prone and tsunami-prone areas have learned from past experience that acting on such a rule is likely to save more lives overall than is acting on a policy of searching for and attempting to help others escape the disaster.

Tsunami-tendenko seems to be a reasonable general principle for people to follow in such exceptional circumstances, particularly where disasters strike suddenly, and the resulting chaos can make efforts to locate others not only extremely difficult but in some cases suicidal. Kodama provides plausible indirect consequentialist arguments for this principle to be used in these dramatic situations.

The entire article is here.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The thought father: Psychologist Daniel Kahneman on luck

By Richard Godwin
The London Evening Standard
Originally published March 18, 2014

Here are two excerpt:

Through a series of zany experiments involving roulette wheels and loaded dice, Tversky and Kahneman showed just how easily we can be led into making irrational decisions — even judges sentencing criminals were influenced by being shown completely random numbers. They also showed the sinister effects of priming (how, when people are “primed” with images of money, they behave in a more selfish way). Many such mental illusions still have an effect when subjects are explicitly warned to look out for them. “If it feels right, we go along with it,” as Kahneman says. It is usually afterwards that we engage our System 2s if at all, to provide reasons for acting as we did after the fact.


Do teach yourself to think long-term. The “focusing illusion” makes the here and now appear the most pressing concern but that can lead to skewed results.

Do be fair. Research shows that employers who are unjust are punished by reduced productivity, and unfair prices lead to a loss in sales.

Do co-operate. What Kahneman calls “bias blindness” means it’s easier to recognise the errors of others than our own so ask for constructive criticism and be prepared to call out others on what they could improve.

The entire article is here.

Ethical issues in researching daily life

Researchers who conduct ambulatory assessment should be aware of the pitfalls that may come with new technology that captures participant data.

By Timothy J. Trull, PhD
The Monitor on Psychology
April 2015, Vol 46, No. 4
Print version: page 70

Here is an excerpt:

With this increased utility comes a parallel increase in both ethical issues and assessment challenges. They include:

Informed consent. As with all forms of assessment, it is necessary to ensure that ambulatory assessment participants are informed about the procedures or protocol of the study, the exact nature of the data to be collected, and potential risks and burdens related to the study. Several unique features of ambulatory assessment should be considered. First, especially because ambulatory assessment may involve passive data collection, it is vital to make the participant aware of all of the data that are being collected, as well as how these data might be used. It is also important to recognize that ambulatory assessment may unintentionally capture data on nonconsenting people who interact with the participant via audio recordings, videos or photos. Investigators must decide ahead of time how this should be handled. Should people be encouraged to discuss their participation in the ambulatory assessment study with others with whom they have contact? Some U.S. states may forbid the recording of third parties without their permission. Participants should be given the option to stop recording at any point and to review their data if recording has occurred in sensitive situations.

The entire article is here.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The neural pathways, development and functions of empathy

Jean Decety
Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Volume 3, June 2015, Pages 1–6

Empathy reflects an innate ability to perceive and be sensitive to the emotional states of others coupled with a motivation to care for their wellbeing. It has evolved in the context of parental care for offspring as well as within kinship. Current work demonstrates that empathy is underpinned by circuits connecting the brainstem, amygdala, basal ganglia, anterior cingulate cortex, insula and orbitofrontal cortex, which are conserved across many species. Empirical studies document that empathetic reactions emerge early in life, and that they are not automatic. Rather they are heavily influenced and modulated by interpersonal and contextual factors, which impact behavior and cognitions. However, the mechanisms supporting empathy are also flexible and amenable to behavioral interventions that can promote caring beyond kin and kith.

The entire article is here.

Understanding Bias — The Case for Careful Study

Lisa Rosenbaum
N Engl J Med 2015; 372:1959-1963
May 14, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Whether our judgments are motivated by fatigue, hunger, institutional norms, the diagnosis of the last patient we saw, or a memory of a patient who died, we are all biased in countless subtle ways. Teasing out the relative effects of any of these other biases is nearly impossible. You can’t exactly randomly assign some physicians to being motivated by the pursuit of tenure, others by ideology, others by the possibility of future stock returns, and others by just wanting to be really good doctors. The difficulty of measuring these other motivations, however, creates the problem that plagues many quality-improvement efforts: we go after only what we can count. It is easy to count the dollars industry pays doctors, but this ease of measurement obscures two key questions: Does the money introduce a bias that undermines scientific integrity? And by focusing on these pecuniary biases, are we overlooking others that are equally powerful?

The entire article is here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Act 31 Mandated Child Abuse Reporting Training (Parts 1 & 2) as Podcast

In this two-part continuing education program, John and Sam Knapp discuss the critical elements of the new Child Protective Service law.  Act 31 of 2014 requires all mandated reporters who hold licenses to receive at least two hours of approved continuing education in the signs of child abuse and the reporting requirements for child abuse in Pennsylvania.

Episode 19 is the first hour of that training.  In hour one, Drs. Gavazzi and Knapp discuss the definitions of a child and perpetrator as these pertain to the new mandated reporting law.  John and Sam highlight the legal definitions of physical abuse, emotional abuse, and begin to discuss the definition of sexual abuse in the new Pennsylvania law.

In Episode 20, Drs. Gavazzi and Knapp review sexual abuse as sex crimes, abuse of newborn children, who mandated reporters are, and why supervises and employees of licensed professionals need to know the mandated reporter requirements.  Sam gives John a pop quiz to help listeners with the Child Protective Services law.  Psychology students, interns, and other mental health workers are subject to the new Child Protective Services Law.  Finally, they review the requirements of reporting, how to report, and mandated reporter rights and protections.

At the end of Episodes 19 and 20, the listener should be able to:
  1. Describe the child welfare system in Pennsylvania;
  2. Define child, child abuse, perpetrators, and other relevant terms;
  3. Paraphrase the responsibilities of mandated reporters;
  4. Recognize the signs of child abuse and situations where child abuse must be reported; and,
  5. Understand how to fulfill their responsibilities as mandated reporters of child abuse.

Episode 19 - Part 1 of the Act 31 Mandated Child Abuse Reporting Training

Episode 20 - Part 2 of the Act 31 Mandated Child Abuse Reporting Training

This podcast is designed for health professionals and has been approved by the Department of Human Services and the Pennsylvania Department of State to meet the Act 31 requirements. 

Additionally, these credits will also count towards the 30 hours required for licensing renewal for psychologists. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Thousands of Toddlers Are Medicated for A.D.H.D., Report Finds, Raising Worries

By Alan Schwarz
The New York Times
Originally published May 16, 2014

More than 10,000 American toddlers 2 or 3 years old are being medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder outside established pediatric guidelines, according to data presented on Friday by an official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, which found that toddlers covered by Medicaid are particularly prone to be put on medication such as Ritalin and Adderall, is among the first efforts to gauge the diagnosis of A.D.H.D. in children below age 4. Doctors at the Georgia Mental Health Forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta, where the data was presented, as well as several outside experts strongly criticized the use of medication in so many children that young.

The entire article is here.

Twitter’s Great Porn Purge of 2015

By Aurora Snow
The Daily Beast
Originally posted May 16, 2015

Say it ain’t so! Don’t censor us Twitter, like all those other wildly profitable social media platforms.

According to SunTrust Robinson Humphrey tech analyst Robert Peck, Twitter is preparing to purge an estimated 10 million porn-posting users. Ditching such a large chunk of users sounds drastic until you do the math: Twitter claims to have 302 million monthly users, so getting rid of the explicit posters will only account for about 3 percent of its total—although that’s just counting the users and not their followers. Twitter is a one-stop shop for all your media needs, whether you want to catch up on news, message a celeb in real time, or browse explicit images posted by adult stars. Purging the porn will surely upset millions of users, and would certainly put a dent in Twitter’s hip freedom of speech reputation.

The entire article is here.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Awe, the small self, and prosocial behavior.

P. Piff, P. Dietze, M. Feinberg, D. Stancato, and D. Keltner
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 108(6), Jun 2015, 883-899.

Awe is an emotional response to perceptually vast stimuli that transcend current frames of reference. Guided by conceptual analyses of awe as a collective emotion, across 5 studies (N = 2,078) we tested the hypothesis that awe can result in a diminishment of the individual self and its concerns, and increase prosocial behavior. In a representative national sample (Study 1), dispositional tendencies to experience awe predicted greater generosity in an economic game above and beyond other prosocial emotions (e.g., compassion). In follow-up experiments, inductions of awe (relative to various control states) increased ethical decision-making (Study 2), generosity (Study 3), and prosocial values (Study 4). Finally, a naturalistic induction of awe in which participants stood in a grove of towering trees enhanced prosocial helping behavior and decreased entitlement compared to participants in a control condition (Study 5). Mediational data demonstrate that the effects of awe on prosociality are explained, in part, by feelings of a small self. These findings indicate that awe may help situate individuals within broader social contexts and enhance collective concern.

The entire article is here.

Video about Tea and Consent, as it applies to sex

Do you like tea? Do you want tea forced on you? Do you want tea when you're unconscious?

A new video campaign uses stick figures and tea -- yes, tea -- to make the simple but essential point that consent is not a complicated concept.

The video is a collaboration between Blue Seat Studios and blogger Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess, who wrote about the topic in a March post called "Consent: Not actually that complicated."