Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Acacemic Excellence and Ethical Behavior

Academic and professional excellence are ongoing goals that evolve as scholars gain knowledge and experience. Ethical behavior, too, may begin as simple rule following, but can evolve depending on the individual's deliberate attempt to become ethical. Scholars must practice ethical judgment and decision making continually, as well as develop a personal understanding of morality. I intend to do both.

Furthermore, for psychological professionals, it is important to strive to do no harm, provide a benefit to those with whom they cross paths, and protect the rights of others (American Psychological Association (APA), (2010). When facing challenges, it is wise to seek the counsel of peers as well as the advice of supervisors (APA, 2010). In the field of health psychology, scholars work toward understanding and integrating biological knowledge and science with psychological knowledge (APA, Division 38, 2013). These are personally meaningful and essential goals to which I strive.

It is important to include the importance of cultural and contextual awareness, especially that psychological professionals understand the implications of helping individuals or entire populations that are unlike their own (APA, 2010). Further that they must tolerate and respect foreign ideologies and norms, remembering the natural human tendency to overestimate positive traits in people who are familiar and emphasize negative traits in those who are unfamiliar or different (Heider, 1959). It seems essential, although challenging, to refrain from presuming the superiority of one's culture and norms (Stuart & Bennett, 2006) .

The APA (2010) has described, in detail, appropriate behavior for psychological professionals. These guidelines provide scholars and professionals with a fundamental parameter by which to establish and maintain ethical behavior. However, the APA contends with thousands of ethical infractions committed by psychological professionals each year (Plante, 2011). This may be a reminder that understanding ethical behavior by its rules, rather than its essence, is a process, and not one that all scholars of psychology attain. Although conducting oneself ethically is admirable, one must be ethical to consistently uphold the principles of the APA with integrity. The depth and reflection upon ethical behavior that is required to develop a truly ethical nature may be challenging, however, holding this ideal will serve as a guide for facing ethically ambiguous situations in practice.


American Psychological Association (APA). (2010). General principles. Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Retrieved January 14, 2013, from

American Psychological Association, Division 38. (2013). Mission Statement. APA Division 38: Our Mission. Retrieved January 14, 2013, from

Heider, F. (1959). The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York: Wiley.

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

Stewart, E. C., & Bennett, M. J. (2006). American cultural patterns: a cross-cultural perspective. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

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