Ethical and Legal Considerations in Psychobiography

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Abstract

Despite psychobiography’s long-standing history in the field of psychology, there has been relatively little discussion of ethical issues and guidelines in psychobiographical research. The Ethics Code of the American Psychological Association (APA) does not address psychobiography. The present article highlights the value of psychobiography to psychology, reviews the history and current status of psychobiography in the field, examines the relevance of existing APA General Principles and Ethical Standards to psychobiographical research, and introduces a best practice ethical decision-making model to assist psychologists working in psychobiography. Given the potential impact of psychologists’ evaluative judgments on other professionals and the lay public, it is emphasized that psychologists and other mental health professionals have a high standard of ethical vigilance in conducting and reporting psychobiography.

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