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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Teachable Ethics Scandal

Mitchell Handelsman
Teaching of Psychology


In this article, I describe a recent scandal involving collusion between officials at the American Psychological Association (APA) and the U.S. Department of Defense, which appears to have enabled the torture of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The scandal is a relevant, complex, and engaging case that teachers can use in a variety of courses. Details of the scandal exemplify a number of psychological concepts, including obedience, groupthink, terror management theory, group influence, and motivation. The scandal can help students understand several factors that make ethical decision-making difficult, including stress, emotions, and cognitive factors such as loss aversion, anchoring, framing, and ethical fading. I conclude by exploring some parallels between the current torture scandal and the development of APA’s ethics guidelines regarding the use of deception in research.

The article is here.