Seminar Series

Moral Overreach and Ethical Failure in Setting Psychological Research Standards

Recent discussions about research methods and reporting reform in psychology have often taken on a moralized tone. I will argue that any appeal to ethics needs to be well-informed about the underlying reasons and potential contradictions in open and robust standards, showing a number of examples in which simplistic application leads reformers astray. I will also analyse the apparent failure to translate decades-old APA policy about ethical results reporting into workable, enforced journal policy. The underlying cause of both overreach and underreach is the need for easy heuristics to take away both the difficulty and the responsibility of decision-making. We can encourage a form of triage, in which effort is focused on the reforms most likely to improve research practice with the fewest inherent drawbacks.