Ethical Principles and Standards

The first code of ethics was created in 1953—60 years after the founding of the American Psychological Association (APA). As early as 1938, a Committee on Scientific and Professional Ethics was formed, but this committee only acted informally, as no formal ethics code yet existed. It took more than a decade after the committee’s formation for it to propose the creation of a formal, written code.


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The APA’s Council of Representatives (the organization’s legislative body) provisionally approved the Ethical Standards of Psychologists as the association’s official ethical policy in 1952. Three years hence, the APA membership voted to make the principles permanent. Since then, the ethical code has undergone 10 revisions (with its most recent revision occurring in 2010).

For this Discussion, you examine the five General Principles of Psychologists as well as the broadly written Ethical Standards of Psychologists. You consider the relationship between the two sets of guidelines that contribute to what psychologists call the “Ethics Code.”

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