Before the study begins the researcher must outline to the participants what the research is about, and then ask their consent (i.e. An adult (18ys ) capable of giving permission to participate in a study can provide consent.
Parents/legal guardians of minors can also provide consent to allow their children to participate in a study.
For example, it might be that a study causes psychological or physical discomfort to participants, maybe they suffer pain or perhaps even come to serious harm.
On the other hand the investigation could lead to discoveries that benefit the participants themselves or even have the potential to increase the sum of human happiness.
If they think it would be OK then it can be assumed that the real participants will also find it acceptable. However, a problem with this method is that there might there be a mismatch between how people think they would feel/behave and how they actually feel and behave during a study?
In order that consent be ‘informed’, consent forms may need to be accompanied by an information sheet for participants setting out information about the proposed study (in lay terms) along with details about the investigators and how they can be contacted.
They also need to know what it is that they are agreeing to.
In other words the psychologist should, so far as is practicable explain what is involved in advance and obtain the informed consent of participants.
In Britain ethical guidelines for research are published by the British Psychological Society and in America by the American Psychological Association.
The purpose of these codes of conduct is to protect research participants, the reputation of psychology and psychologists themselves.