Dr. Daniela Yeung, a community psychologist, has been conducting a federally funded
ethnographic study of men’s attitudes toward intimate partner violence following
conviction and release from prison for spousal abuse. Over the course of a year, she has
had individual monthly interviews with 25 participants while they were in jail and
following their release. Aiden, a 35-year-old male parolee convicted of seriously injuring
his wife, has been interviewed by Dr. Yeung on eight occasions. The interviews have
covered a range of personal topics including Aiden’s problem drinking, which is
marked by blackouts and threatening phone calls made to his parents and girlfriend
when he becomes drunk, usually in the evening. To her knowledge, Aiden has never
followed through on these threats. It is clear that Aiden feels very comfortable discussing
his life with Dr. Yeung. One evening Dr. Yeung checks her answering machine and
finds a message from Aiden. His words are slurred and angry: “Now that you know the
truth about what I am you know that there is nothing you can do to help the evil inside
me. The bottle is my savior and I will end this with them tonight.” Each time she calls
Aiden’s home phone she gets a busy signal.
Dr. Yeung has Aiden’s address, and after 2 hours, she is considering whether or
not to contact emergency services to go to Aiden’s home or to the homes of his
parents and girlfriend.
1. Why is this an ethical dilemma? Which APA Ethical Principles help frame the nature of the dilemma?
2. Does this situation meet the standards set by the duty to protect statue? How might whether or not Dr. Yeung’s state includes researchers under such a statute influence Dr. Yeung’s ethical decision making? How might the fact that Dr. Yeung is a research psychologist without training or licensure in clinical practice influence the ethical decision?
3. How are APA Ethical Standards 2.01a b, and c; 2.04; 3.04; 3.06; 4.01; 4.02; and 10.10a relevant to this case? Which other standards might apply?
4. What are Dr. Yeung’s ethical alternatives for resolving this dilemma? Which alternative best reflects the Ethics Code aspirational principle and enforceable standard, as well as legal standards and Dr. Yeung’s obligations to stakeholders?
5. What steps should Dr. Yeung take to ethically implement her decision and monitor its effects?
Fisher, C. B. (2013). Decoding the ethics code: A practical guide for psychologists. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.