Degree In Sight

Psychologists have an ethical duty to counter advertising's potential harm to children, argued second-year University of Denver counseling psychology student Juli B. Kramer in an address at APA's 2005 Annual Convention. Kramer is the winner of the 2005 APA Graduate Student Ethics Prize.

She argued that since psychological research links consumerism to depression and anxiety disorders among youth, psychologists have an obligation to help parents arm their children against the $12 billion advertisers spend each year to target youngsters. She also called for psychologists to take action against harmful mass marketing to youth.

The Graduate Student Ethics Prize annually honors the best student paper on psychology and ethics and is sponsored by the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students and APA's Ethics Committee. Kramer won $1,000 and a round-trip ticket to and three nights stay at the convention for her paper "Ethical Analysis and Recommended Action in Response to the Dangers Associated with Youth Consumerism." She was inspired to write about the topic by her two children--12-year-old Addison and 9-year-old Preston.

In her paper, Kramer encourages psychologists who conduct research on children for advertisers to communicate with the public about their methodology so parents can better understand what's happening behind the scenes to market toys, food and clothes to their children. Kramer also called for more research on consumerism's ties to children's mental health and self-esteem, and she recommended that psychologists develop a school-based curriculum to teach children media literacy.

"Is this the legacy that we want to leave to our kids, to not speak against consumerism and marketing to our youth?" asked Kramer. "Is that okay with us, or can we take action to help?"

The journal Ethics and Behavior will publish Kramer's paper in 2006.


Look for application information for next year's award on page 50.