Integrating Ethics into Undergraduate Teaching in Psychology


Studying psychology’s history of ethical tensions is a useful introduction to examining current iterations of potentially harmful individual and social perspectives. Embedded in our class work in developmental and social psychology and in narrative and abnormal psychology, for instance, are inquiries into the ethical and narrative implications of the material we're studying. What are the moral concerns embedded in research, how is our history as a field compromised or enhanced by our inattention or attention to culture, and how would narrative themes such as generativity and communion be discerned in accounts of aging, or racism, or suffering? What are concerns about consent and assent in the juvenile justice system? What are the puzzles in dementia care related to who the “decider” is as the disease progresses and painful choices must be made? How can implicit cognitive processes such as the reception of metaphor enhance or thwart welcoming attitudes toward immigrants? How do moral disengagement and social comparison affect our willingness to overlook our own missteps? In some classes students use memoir or film sources to craft formal narrative analyses employing ethical principles, in some they rely primarily on scientific articles and videos provided for them. In all classes, though, students vigorously discuss these and other ethical issues, engaging with each other in critically exploring approaches to difficult important questions. The practice of ethical and narrative analysis can then, if students wish, continue as a way of considering new material well beyond their undergraduate years.


Ethics, Morality, Psychology, Teaching, Undergraduates


Learning in Higher Education


Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


  • Maureen Gibney
    • Teaching Professor, Psychology, Drexel University, United States Pennsylvania, United States
    • I currently am a teaching professor in the psychology department of Drexel University in Philadelphia, a city on the east coast of the US. For many years I was a clinician and I have extensive experience in the fields of mental health and aging, working as a neuropsychologist, trainer, and teacher. It has been a delight to meet scholars from around the world whose work is innovative and inspiring.