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Ethical issues in South African psychology : public complaints, psychologists' dilemmas and training in professional ethics.

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This study examined three perspectives on ethical dimensions of South African professional psychology. These perspectives were derived from three data sets. The first data set comprised a series of public complaints against psychologists; the second a series of ethical dilemmas reported by psychologists themselves, and the third comprised a study of the training of South African psychologists in professional ethics. Clear patterns emerged in the analysis of each data set, and efforts were made to integrate the findings. Psychologists in particular registration categories, trained at particular universities and working in particular practice contexts were disproportionately more likely to attract complaints. Similarly, patterns of dilemmas experienced by psychologists also emerged. Comparison of complaints with dilemmas suggested that there were significant differences and some similarities in the ethical issues and contexts associated with public complaints and psychologists' own ethical dilemmas. The study of ethics training suggested general dissatisfaction with the relevance and quantity of ethics training nationally. The main findings were integrated to make recommendations for improving the ethics training of South African psychologists. The limitations of the data are described, along with suggestions for future research to examine in greater depth and specificity several dominant patterns described by the present study.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2002.


Psychologists--Professional ethics., Psychology--Practice--Moral and ethical aspects., Psychology--Study and teaching., Psychologists--Complaints against., Theses--Psychology.