Background. There is a growing movement worldwide for ethical regulation of psychologists’ research-oriented, educational, and practical activities. However, expectations that the better the code of ethics, the safer and more effective the professional activity will be, are not being met. For this reason, it is beneficial to distinguish two levels of the psychologist’s professional functioning: that related to his or her role, and that on the personal level; this makes it possible to more adequately analyze the psychological aspects of ethical and moral regulation in professional interaction.
Objective. To compare the psychological foundations of the educational psychologist’s ethical and moral professional behavior at the role and personal levels.
Design. Analysis, generalization, and identification, through a review of the literature, of the main factors influencing the ethical and moral regulation of professional behavior of psychologists.
Results. Surveys of specialists show that it is difficult both for the client and for the psychologist to follow a formal ethical code unconditionally. We considered the limitations of ethical regulation of professional activity, when, even with a good knowledge of the ethical norms on the part of the specialists, external monitoring is required to guarantee the safety of their subjects. We emphasize that the wide variety of psychological assistance provided by psychologists to their clients requires different degrees of personal involvement on the part of the specialist. We propose to distinguish two levels of professional interaction in the psychologist’s activity: the role level and the personal level, corresponding to different mechanisms of the moral regulation of the specialist’s behavior. At the role level, there is no need for deep personal involvement; the external motives of moral regulation (knowledge of the code requirements and fear of administrative sanctions for negative consequences) serve as psychological mechanisms of compliance with ethical standards. On the personal level, other psychological mechanisms are required for the performance of professional duties, such as internal motives underlying moral behavior (a mature and sensitive conscience and a positive philosophy of life). The personal level of moral professional behavior regulation makes it possible to provide a much greater degree of safety in the interaction between psychologist and client, and in the absence of external oversight.
Conclusion. We compare two approaches to the explanation of the psychological foundations of moral functioning: models enumerating the personal qualities defining moral behavior and models of integrated moral functioning. The article describes the existential-ontological concept of moral functioning, correlating the maturity of individual moral consciousness, awareness of the adoption of a particular ethical system of norms and ideals, and the conscience. We conclude that it is necessary to educate future specialists as mature, integrated personalities, ensuring integrated moral functioning in their professional interactions.
Keywords: ethical regulation of psychologists’ activity; moral functioning; authenticity; identity; conscience; existential concept of moral functioning; situations of moral choice