Summary: The CAPE ethical dilemma stimulus cards were developed as an ethics training tool for I-O Psychologists. Each scenario is based on common ethical issues that are faced by this group in both academe and practice (Knapp, 2010). Each is also organized around the five paradigms of ethical action (Lefkowitz, 2017). These concepts were blended into a matrix that identifies a broad array of ethical dilemmas that are relevant to academe and practice.  

The cards may be administered by random drawing or by a more focused approach in which the administrator selects 7 to 10 of the dilemmas that are relevant to learning needs. The responder takes one card from the deck, reads the dilemma aloud and responds to it. Then the responder and administrator (or small group) discuss the ethical issue and comment on how they would respond to the dilemma. After about 5 minutes of discussion, the process continues with the next dilemmas. When the session wraps up, consider summarizing what was learned.  

This case-based approach to ethics training will help participants: (1) think on their feet to come up with a meaningful response to the dilemma, (2) express a solution in a timely and confident way, (3) engage others in the development of a solution. Furthermore, it is important that the dilemmas be relevant to a responder’s situation and representative of the broad range of ethical challenges to be faced.  

Development of Representative Dilemmas: There are 25 CAPE-Matrix-Cards reflecting the ethical issues that are commonly faced by I-O psychologists in both academe and practice. Each of the cards describes one challenging ethical situation involving one of five topics (Knapp, 2010):  

  1. Informed Consent
  2. Confidentiality
  3. Boundaries of Competence
  4. Institutional Review Boards
  5. Definition of the Client  

In addition, the dilemmas were written to reflect one of five paradigms associated with ethical challenges (Lefkowitz, 2017). The paradigms are:

Paradigm I. “Prevent Harm: Awareness or anticipation of someone else’s being harmed or wronged by a third party“ 

Paradigm II. “Temptation: Contemplating an action in accord with some self-serving motive, goal or ambition that would be unjust, deceitful or harmful to another.

Paradigm III. “Role conflict: Facing competing obligations or responsibilities (sometimes to two or more persons) such that fulfilling one means failing to meet the other.”

Paradigm IV. “Values Conflict: Feeling important but conflicting personal values so that expressing one entails denying the other(s) expression.” 

Paradigm V. “Coercion: Being pressured to violate ethical standards.”

A matrix was built by a combination of the common issues with the paradigms.