The dark side of professional ethics

Samuel Knapp, Mitchell M. Handelsman, Michael C. Gottlieb, Leon D. VandeCreek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Ideally psychologists strive to act ethically within their professional roles. However, they are unlikely to achieve the highest standards of ethical behavior if they become overly legalistic or if they engage in behaviors that can be virtuous in a personal context but harmful in a professional relationship. Such problems may arise when some justify their less-than-optimal behavior based upon a skewed, unbalanced, or misguided notion of their ethical obligations. We discuss this "dark side" of ethics and how it can be more effectively addressed when psychologists base their professional conduct on an integration of both personal and professional ethics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-377
Number of pages7
JournalProfessional Psychology: Research and Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Acculturation model
  • Ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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