Ethical pitfalls for natural language processing in psychology

In Morteza Dehghani & Ryan Boyd (eds.), The Atlas of Language Analysis in Psychology. Guilford Press (forthcoming)
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Knowledge is power. Knowledge about human psychology is increasingly being produced using natural language processing (NLP) and related techniques. The power that accompanies and harnesses this knowledge should be subject to ethical controls and oversight. In this chapter, we address the ethical pitfalls that are likely to be encountered in the context of such research. These pitfalls occur at various stages of the NLP pipeline, including data acquisition, enrichment, analysis, storage, and sharing. We also address secondary uses of the results and tools developed through psychometric NLP, such as profit-driven targeted advertising, political campaigns, and domestic and international psyops. Along the way, we reflect on potential ethical guidelines and considerations that may help researchers navigate these pitfalls.

Author Profiles

Mark Alfano
Macquarie University
Emily Sullivan
Utrecht University


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