Socialresearch: Great emotional distress or psychological harm
Social research ordinarily uses quantitative and qualitative researchmethods to study experiences and aspects of people. This means thatunlike other research methods and approaches, the study subjects insocial research are human beings and they have to be treated with thenecessary dignity and avoid the risk of causing great emotionaldistress or psychological harm. To avoid such cases, the participantsshould be prepared through provision of proper and detailedinformation about what the study will entail, its purpose, any risksthat the participants might face before, during and after the study.This is because participants might be required to be activelyinvolved in the study by carrying out certain activities or evenmaking observations and reporting to the researchers.
Another way toavoid causing psychological harm is to offer emotional andpsychological support to participants. This may be necessary whereparticipants have undergone psychological trauma or emotionaldisturbing situations. Alternatively, when posing question toparticipants, researchers should be sensitive about the effect ofsuch question and the memories that might arouse. The research couldcause even emotional distress to participants where other parties areinvolved. For instance, where children are participating in researchinvolving their parents, researchers should provide necessaryemotional support not only to ensure the safety of participants butalso ensure data obtained in valid. Such emotional distress orpsychological harm is possible in the study by Sousa (2011) andcolleagues through a longitudinal study to assess whether abusedchildren were affected in the attachment later in life. Thisparticular study commenced in 1976 among children of 18 months tofour years and their parents averaging 28 years. After four years, asecond wave of data was collected and a third wave of data wascollected after ten years with varying results. Such a study islikely to have exposed participants to Great emotional distress orpsychological harm is due care was not taken.
Sousa, C.,Herenkohl, T., Moylan, C. et al. (2011). Longitudinal study on theeffects of child
abuse and children’s exposure to domestic violence, parent-childattachments, and antisocial behavior in adolescence. J InterpersViolence. 26(1): 111–136.