Monday, October 17, 2011

Ethics Awareness Inventory

Although every individual views ethics from a different perspective, most people agree there is right and wrong, although they may vary on how to make moral and ethical decisions. This author's ethical perspective is based on character, and she believes being ethical is more important than simply performing ethical deeds. To determine the ethical nature of people, she looks into their character rather than judging them by the quality of their actions. Herein, the author describes her perspective as suggested by the Ethics Awareness Inventory (The Williams Institute of Ethics and Management, 2011).

Personal Ethics, Principles, and the Code of Conduct

Personal ethics must be deliberately developed over the lifespan. In a psychological profession and when working with people, professionals must continually implement ethical judgment and moral decision-making and persist in developing and evolving one's understanding of morality. This development does not cease once a goal is attained, it is an ongoing process that becomes more deeply engrained as the individual evolves. Personal ethics are an essential part of any professional discipline, and to conduct oneself ethically, one must be ethical.

Although designed with good intentions, developing a list of appropriate behavior, such as the code of conduct designed by the American Psychological Association, cannot aid in the development of personal moral and ethical judgment, only rule-following. The American Psychological Association handles thousands of ethical infractions committed by psychologists each year (Plante, 2011). However, most of the offending individuals understand ethical behavior by its rules, not by its essence. Without personal ethics, an individual has only rule-following to guide them in professional and ethical conduct. For truly ethical individuals, the written rules are of a lesser quality than their understanding of ethics. For an individual possessing integrity, no contention would exist in deciding between conflicting rules, or judging right from wrong.

Effects of Ethical Applications

This author's belief is that personal ethics permeates one's spiritual, social, and organizational endeavors. For authenticity in spiritual practice, one must have ethical, rather than self-righteous goals otherwise spiritual understanding cannot deepen. This author values honesty, wisdom, and integrity, and she places more emphasis on behaving according to these qualities more than she values rule-following. Regarding social applications, whether associating with one individual or many, this author believes people act according to intrinsic values and beliefs, and behavior changes along with evolving ethical understanding. It is far more beneficial to assist others in strengthening their ability to grasp the true nature of wisdom and integrity rather than passing judgment on their ignorance.

In organizational applications, I believe wisdom and ethical character applied to human diversity creates interactions based on integrity, honesty, benevolence, and justice. Personal interaction with others encourages me to search for goodness of character within all people (The Williams Institute, 2011). I must be careful not to judge the character and growth of others and recall not everyone has the opportunity to develop the ethics, values, and virtues that I value. Social inequalities exist and tolerance, compassion, and an appreciation for diversity are necessary virtues when working with people (The Williams Institute, 2011). Furthermore, I have a keen awareness of the neglect in character growth in contemporary society and quick fixes are neither realistic, nor are they a plausible solution for positive change.

Ethics' Effect on Personal Growth, Health, and Development

It is my understanding that ethical behavior is evident in the quality of an individual's character, which is more important than his or her actions. Personal growth does not involve learning to follow rules, but how to adhere to one's own experience of morality. Because of the intrusive quality of human nature upon behavior, one must continually strive to be morally correct and of ethical character. Maintaining health is continually balancing what one knows is right with what is easy as well as fostering growth in oneself in areas of weakness. Natural development takes place when an individual grasps what is morally good. Ethical value begins with individual thought and as people learn to master their thoughts, personal growth, health, and development are a natural human process.

Advantages of a Psychology Degree

In my estimation, there are many reasons to pursue an advanced degree in psychology. Some learners, including this author, find human nature compelling, although often disappointing. My choice in a psychology degree had little to do with ethics and more to do with her previously established belief in her spiritual need to help others understand human nature and the human journey. Possessing a perspective of the understanding of the relationship between human nature and ethics, I understand becoming ethical is superior to learning appropriate and ethical behavior.

If I had been more keenly aware of psychological science, I would have chosen an undergraduate degree in a different science, although gaining a clearer understanding of ethics, diversity, tolerance, and compassion has been beneficial, although not a direct result of my undergraduate program. However, I maintain a belief that as individual perceptions vary widely, along with the individual capacity to understand what is wholly ethical, it is essential for any science, including psychology, to present a code of conduct to its members as a replacement parameter until ethical behavior becomes an intrinsic mechanism. Neither all people nor all psychologists understand the essence of being ethical. It is the responsibility of those who do understand to help those who do not.


Personal ethics, principles, and moral judgment supports the ability to function optimally in any professional capacity, especially within psychological disciplines. The degree to which individuals become ethical dictates the level by which they function within their discipline in personal, spiritual, social, and organizational issues. Ethics function as a parameter that supports psychological knowledge as well as personal growth, health, and development. For many individuals, choosing psychology as an educational pursuit may impel them toward a deeper understanding of ethics and its pivotal role in their becoming an individual with the capacity to function morally and ethically. Regardless of career or educational direction, it is the responsibility of each person to act and make judgments according to his or her evolving understanding of morality (Pappajohn, n.d.).


Pappajohn, J. (n.d.). Ethics and social responsibility. John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. Retrieved September 30, 2011, from

Plante, T. G. (2011). Contemporary clinical psychology (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

The Williams Institute for Ethics and Management. (2011). Ethics awareness inventory. The Williams Institute - Promoting Ethics in Community. Retrieved September 29, 2011, from

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