Ethical Principles of Psychologists


All members of the JPA shall recognise and honour the basic rights of all people, shall respect people’s liberty and pursuit of happiness, take care to maintain the welfare and protection of non-human creatures, and assume responsibility for their actions as professional psychologists. These principles and guidelines are based on the foregoing; in the event that a judgement is required regarding the ethicality of a member’s actions as a professional psychologist, as well as the results of those actions, members shall follow these principles and guidelines.

1. Awareness of responsibility and self-study

As professional psychologists, JPA members shall be aware that their research, studies, and practical activities in the field of psychology may have effects on society and the individuals that it comprises. Furthermore, members shall, through their activities, aim to improve people’s welfare and happiness.

In order to make such a contribution to society, members shall constantly strive to develop an appropriate professional dignity, shall study to improve themselves, and endeavour to improve their abilities, knowledge and professional proficiency. To that end, members shall acquire the latest specialist knowledge and techniques, as well as a wide range of related information. Members shall further learn about ethical ideology, as well as pertinent laws—both in Japan and overseas, shall take an active part in the education of junior professionals, and aim to increase awareness among society at large.

2. Legal compliance and respect for rights and welfare

JPA members are not simply expected to obey laws in their capacity as regular citizens. As professional psychologists, members are expected to comply with the regulations of the professional institutions and organisations to which they belong and to respect the standards, customs, cultures, and values of the organisations to which the participants*1 in members’ research and practical activities belong. Members must never take respect for the individual or animal welfare lightly. Members should always be careful to honour the rights and benefits of their colleagues and students who participate in members’ research, education, and practical activities, as well as all other people otherwise involved in members’ work, and shall always be considerate of such people’s human rights and welfare. In particular, when engaging in research, education, or practical activities that involve animals, members shall comply with all pertinent laws, ensure animals are fed and kept appropriately, and work to prevent abuse and otherwise improve animal welfare. Furthermore, where wild animals are involved, members must be careful to protect the environment and consider the effects on the local community and ecosystem.

3. Explanation and consent

When carrying out psychology-related activities, JPA members must fully inform all participants of the details of the activities and must generally obtain the consent of participants in writing*2. Where it is difficult for members to gain informed consent regarding their research from participants, members must obtain such consent from a proxy, such as a close family member. Additionally, participants must be told in advance that they have the right to suspend or terminate their participation, even before the research has finished.

4. Confidentiality

JPA members must never conduct any research, education, or practical activity which invades the privacy of any individual without first obtaining that individual’s permission nor shall members cause any physical or psychological damage to participants. Where a member is in a position of authority over a participant, the member must never use that position for personal benefit. Furthermore, members must store and administer information gained through research, education, and practical activities in the strictest confidence, making sure that such information is never divulged to anyone else; such information must generally not be used for any purpose other than research, education, or practical activities.

5. Public statements and responsibility

When a JPA member publishes information gained through research, education, or practical activities, the member shall first obtain the consent of the participants and others involved and must ensure that participants cannot be identified through published information without the participant’s prior permission. In the case of joint research, the member must also obtain the consent of his or her fellow researchers when making public statements and fully consider his or her rights and responsibilities.

Participants (including those taking part in, related to, or cooperating in research) were formerly referred to as “subjects”; however, in line with the principles set forth in the foreword, are herein referred to as “participants.”
Bearing in mind that some research is carried out using questionnaires in a group survey or by post, and that the very efficacy of some research is rendered useless by describing in detail the contents of the research to participants, members are required to take measures and strive to ensure that informed consent is obtained in writing without compromising the research. Where prior consent is impossible, members must obtain consent—and the understanding of the participant—ex post facto.