This tutorial is an optional supplement to the courseware of the Centre for Social Sciences - Psychology at Athabasca University. It was authored by Dr. David Polson, Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria. Dr. Cheuk Ng and Lorna Brown of Athabasca University provided various content-related, technical and instructional-design assistance.


In Part 1 of this tutorial, you learn about ethical conduct in research with human participants. First, a major ethical dilemma for the investigator is described. Then, a hypothetical experiment is outlined. Finally, 10 ethical principles are presented and discussed. For each principle, there are two vignettes based on the hypothetical experiment: one contains a violation of the principle and the other contains a contrasting non-violation. An analysis is included of why the one example is problematic and the other is not.

Part 2 of this tutorial contains descriptions of seven hypothetical experiments with human participants. For each one, you will be asked to identify violations of the 10 ethical principles and to suggest improvements.


Following some of the vignettes in this exercise, a reference is made to a "Related Source." This reference is included for students interested in pursuing the subject matter of the hypothetical experiment outlined in the vignette. Sometimes the details of the hypothetical experiment are very similar to the related source, but in many cases they are quite different. Thus, the hypothetical experiment is not to be regarded as an accurate description of the related source -- the commonality between the two may simply be similar independent and dependent variables.