Commentary to Part IV

Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


All kinds of psychologists confront the limits of confidentiality-most starkly when clinical research reveals a participant’s possible intent to harm self or others, as described in the contributions comprising this part. Even less clinically oriented research can present ethical challenges regarding confidentiality. For example, a researcher using a common depression or self-esteem inventory may discover that one (anonymous) participant scores three standard deviations lower than everyone else. In our case, we decided to e-mail the entire sample, referring anyone distressed to the local mental health resources. As another example, researchers using neuroimaging may detect incidental findings that look abnormal to a nonspecialist. In this case, the consent form must clarify that any such results would not be medically diagnostic, but that the researchers would communicate and refer the participant accordingly, unless the data were completely anonymous. Finally, as a teacher, one sometimes encounters a disturbing essay from a fully identii able student. Although coni dentiality is not the main issue here, a personal approach, along with a referral to mental health counseling, seems in order.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEthical Challenges in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages1
ISBN (Electronic)9781139626491
ISBN (Print)9781107039735
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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