What are some examples of ethical issues surrounding the research on human sexuality?no

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many ethical issues that could be associated with research into human sexuality.  This is because most of this research has human subjects.  Research with human subjects is ethically very tricky.

For example, research into human sexuality often involves survey interviews in which researchers try to determine what sexual experiences a person has had in their life time or what their attitudes are about various issues relating to sex.  This is an intensely personal subject and many interviewees may be reluctant to answer.  Ethical issues then clash with the needs of the study because the researcher is not supposed to push people to give information they do not wish to give.

Another issue arises when researchers study illegal sexual activity such as prostitution.  Researchers are often funded by grants from government agencies.  If they are and if government agencies (like the police) then want information from them about the illegal sexual activities, what are they to do?  This is an ethical concern because researchers are generally not ethically allowed to divulge information (without permission) that would identify the subjects of their studies.

Research into human sexuality is fraught with ethical issues because of the personal and private nature of the subject matter being studied.

cjomara | Student

Hi there MsKitty43,


There are plenty of ethical issues surrounding the study of human sexuality-- its important to remember when endeavouring in this sort of research to consider all the issues at hand.

You first have to consider what your participants are willing to share-- is your topic going to be difficult to get answers to? You cannot coerce interviewees into an answer. You then have to make sure that you do everything you can to protect their identity (i.e., use initials, create nicknames, etc.)

Short of topic and privacy, you then have to battle with the fact that some of the questions you are asking may not in fact relate to activities that are legal in your area. Always do your fact-checking before starting a study, and always remember to make sure you're not putting yourself or your participants at risk of legal action.

Lastly you should take time to consider your interview pool-- it is important to make sure to know going into your study what demographic you wish to address, because the results can be skewed by a poor, or one sided, turn out.


Hope this helps!