What Are the Six Ethical Principles?

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The six principles of the American Psychological Association Ethics Code are competence, integrity, professional and scientific responsibility, respect for people’s rights and dignity, concern for others’ welfare, and social responsibility, while the six principles of research ethics are integrity and quality, proper information, confidentiality, voluntary participation, avoidance of harm, and independence of research. Both the APA Ethics Code and the principles of research ethics are concerned with people’s psychological well-being.

The APA ethical principal of competence requires psychologists to recognize their boundaries and limitations and provide services using qualified techniques. Integrity requires psychologists to be honest, fair and respectful of others, and to refrain from making false, misleading or deceptive statements. Professional and scientific responsibility requires psychologists to consult with colleagues to uphold professional standards of conduct, clarify their professional roles and obligations, accept responsibility for their behavior, and adapt their methods based on needs.

Psychologists are also required by the ethical code to respect the fundamental rights, dignity and worth of all people, regardless of cultural, individual and role differences. They are also required to uphold privacy, confidentiality, self-determination and autonomy, and to be mindful that legal obligations sometimes create inconsistencies in adhering to these obligations. The last two ethical principles demand psychologists exhibit concern for the welfare of their patients and for their professional and scientific responsibilities to society.