Code of Conduct


We recognize the right of all members of the Child Imaging Research on Cognition and Life Experiences (CIRCLE) Lab to learn and work in an environment that is safe and free from discrimination and harassment. Discrimination on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, citizenship status, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status is not only illegal, it is unacceptable to us. We are committed to contributing—through our science and deeds—to a more equitable society. 

We require everyone associated with the Child Imaging Research on Cognition and Life Experiences Lab to abide by this code of conduct – including, but not limited to, our lab directors, post-doctoral scholars, graduate students, post-baccalaureate staff, undergraduate students, and volunteers. This code of conduct applies in any setting associated with the CIRCLE Lab, such as in offices, lab spaces or during social outings, conferences, phone calls, video conferences, or in emails, chats, social media posts, blogs, or in any other form of online communication. 

The goal of this code of conduct is to help us articulate, imagine, and cultivate a shared lab culture for a positive and inclusive research and academic environment. We also believe that articulating our values and accountabilities to one another provides us with clear avenues to correct our lab culture should it stray. We commit to enforce and evolve this code as our team grows.

Encouraged Behaviors

Our lab’s research is based on the premise that individual differences are important and have meaningful implications for human psychology. It is important that our actions reflect this basic assumption. As such, we believe it is important to support diversity and anti-racism initiatives within our lab and within the larger campus community. Specifically, in order to actively engage in anti-racist practices, it is important for lab members to:

  • Have and demonstrate respect for all persons.
  • Educate ourselves about equity, diversity and inclusion in STEM and beyond, including justice and systemic discrimination against marginalized communities.
  • Listen to and uplift voices, especially those from marginalized communities, even when they challenge our assumptions and make us uncomfortable. 
  • Speak out and push for change when we see microaggressions or institutional policies that disadvantage marginalized communities – both within our lab and within the larger campus community.
  • Make space and time for our community members to heal, take care of their peers, or fight for justice, and continue to provide financial, career, and other support while they do so. 
  • Prioritize contributing time and, when we have the means, money, to organizations that promote the success and well-being of our communities, including marginalized communities in STEM or in the larger community.
  • Support students to achieve their personal and career goals, especially those from underrepresented groups who are interested in participating in science by providing tools and resources that we think might be helpful.  

The burden of engaging in anti-racist practices historically falls to members of marginalized groups. We encourage all lab members, especially those with privileged identities, to make change and adopt these actions as expected responsibilities.

Prohibited Behaviors

This description reflects (and does not supersede) the official University Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harrassment, and Related Misconduct, which is enforced by the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (EOC). Violations of this code of conduct may be reported directly to the EOC. The EOC will provide follow-up and resolution, including potential disciplinary action. If there is an immediate risk to life, safety, or property, the incident should be reported to UNC Police at 919.962.8100 (or call 911). Dr. Sheridan & Dr. Miller, as responsible employees, must also report any violations disclosed to them to the EOC.

These policies pertain to the following prohibited behaviors:

Discrimination: Treating a person differently than others based on that person’s age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, citizenship status, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and/or veteran status.

Harassment: A type of discrimination that happens when verbal, physical, electronic, or other behavior based on a person’s identity or identities interferes with that individual’s participation in lab activities and/or creates an environment that is hostile, intimidating, or abusive. 

Below we have listed examples of harassment behaviors that are prohibited. This list is not comprehensive with regard to actions nor types of harassment.

Race or color-based harassment: Conduct that may:

  • Include jokes, innuendos, racial slurs, offensive or derogatory remarks based on a person’s color or perceived race that creates a hostile, intimidating, or abusive environment. 
  • Include physical conduct (e.g., excessive monitoring) based on a person’s color or perceived race that creates a hostile, intimidating, or abusive environment. 
  • Include electronic conduct (e.g., the creation, display, or distribution of racially offensive text, symbols or images) based on a person’s color or perceived race that creates a hostile, intimidating, or abusive environment. 
  • Include harassment for displaying what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for one’s race or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of race, regardless of the actual or perceived race of the person(s) involved.  

Sexual or gender-based harassment: Conduct that may:

  • Include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal, physical, or electronic conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile, intimidating, or abusive environment 
  • Involve verbal, physical, or electronic conduct based on a person’s sex, gender, sexual orientation, or sex-stereotyping that creates a hostile, intimidating, or abusive environment (even if acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature)
  • Include harassment for displaying what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for one’s sex or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity, regardless of the actual or perceived sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression of the person(s) involved. 
  • Intentionally and repeatedly ignoring someone’s preferred pronouns.

Harassment and discrimination may also occur as a function of intersectional identities (e.g., disability and race). These forms of harassment and discrimination are also prohibited under the policies outlined above. 

Complicity: Knowingly aiding, assisting, promoting, or encouraging another person through your actions to commit an act of conduct that is prohibited by this Policy. 

Retaliation: Acts or words taken (e.g., intimidation, threats, coercion, or unfavorable employment or educational actions) against a person because the person participated in good faith in:

  • The reporting, investigation, or resolution of an alleged violation of the Policy 
  • Opposing rules, practices, or actions that the person reasonably believes are in violation of the Policy 
  • Requesting accommodations on the basis of religion or disability

What to do if you experience or witness someone violate this code of conduct 

If you experience harassment or discrimination, and feel comfortable doing so, tell the harasser to stop. Do this either as it happens or in a later conversation. Consider the context of the situation; is this something that needs to be addressed publicly/immediately or would the person be more receptive to your feedback privately? Here are some examples of statements on Interrupting Bias: Calling Out vs. Calling In that you can use to “call someone out” in the moment when their behavior or words were unacceptable or “call someone in,” to explore and grow from the situation. 

Research shows that confronting the harasser directly sometimes puts a stop to the harassment. Given our lab’s values, we expect both parties to be receptive to these types of conversations, communicate openly, listen, and allow each other to be heard — as outlined above.

When addressing the situation, here are some tips on how to talk to the person who disrespected you at work. From a mediation perspective, it’s useful to state that you are making it clear to the harasser that you want the behavior to stop. Be clear and specific about the behavior that is making you uncomfortable. Name the behavior and state that it is wrong. Clearly state to the harasser the specific thing they are doing and that the behavior is inappropriate. Attack the behavior, not the person. Tell them what they are doing that you do not like, rather than blaming them as a person. Avoid cursing, name-calling, put-downs, and other actions that may escalate the situation unnecessarily. 

If you observe harassment or discrimination. We also encourage “bystander interventions.” If you witness someone else being discriminated against or harassed there are many ways to intervene. Remember these 4 D’s: direct, distract, delegate, delay. If you feel safe doing so, it can be valuable to step in and confront the harasser (direct). However, don’t assume that you have to confront the harasser directly, or in the moment, if you feel that doing so may put you or the person experiencing harassment in danger. In these cases, consider taking the more indirect route of speaking directly with the person being harassed –  You can ask if they need help or even just make small talk (distract). If you don’t feel safe intervening at all, recruit help from someone in a position of authority (delegate). Once the incident is over, check in with the person who was harassed and ask them what they need (delay). 

If someone is trying to tell you about your own harassment or discriminatory behavior. Listen with an open mind and avoid becoming defensive if you are approached as having, consciously or otherwise, acted in a way that made someone feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. Remember that if someone offers you feedback, it likely took a great deal of courage for them to do so. The best way to respect that courage is to acknowledge your mistake, apologize, and move on — with a renewed commitment to educate yourself further and do better. 

We highly encourage individuals to report violations of this code of conduct to the appropriate authorities and to our Lab Directors, Dr. Margaret Sheridan and Dr. Adam Miller. Note that Dr. Sheridan and Dr. Miller, as responsible employees, must report violations of which they have been made aware to the EOC.

If you don’t feel comfortable reporting to Dr. Sheridan or Dr. Miller, you may also discuss or debrief these incidents with our Social Support and Mediation Committee at or to a member of the Psychology Department Diversity and Inclusion Committee. 

In addition to avenues for reporting within the lab, UNC-CH has many options for reporting ethical misconduct.

UNC Ombuds office: an informal, impartial, and independent service allowing all Carolina staff, faculty, students and administrators to speak in confidence about any campus issue, problem, or dispute. The UNC Ombuds office can help you navigate this process and provide you with additional resources or offices at UNC that you can contact.

Carolina Ethics Line is an anonymous reporting hotline for the campus community. Carolina Ethics Line provides a simple, anonymous way to report possible unethical or improper conduct, and/or violations of University policies and procedures, regulations, or state and federal laws. The website is maintained by a third party vendor to allow people to make reports anonymously.

Office of Dean of Students: Students who feel they have been harassed or discriminated against due to a protected status are encouraged to meet with the Office of the Dean of Students and formally report their concerns. 

UNC Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office: handles student, employee, and visitor reports of discrimination and harassment based on age, color, disability, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex (including gender, gender expression, or gender identity), sexual orientation, and veteran status. This includes reports of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and sexual violence. Their office also handles reports of relationship violence and stalking.

UNC LGBTQ Center: Allows you to complete a Harassment or Assault Report Form if you have experienced threats, discrimination, or harassment due to your sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Safe at UNC: is the main portal at UNC-CH for resources and information about discrimination, harassment, sexual violennce, interpersonal violence, and stalking. 

Other reporting options are available here and here.

Implications for Lab Participation

Minor complaints in the lab (outside the bounds of these prohibited behaviors) that Dr. Sheridan/ Dr. Miller in conversation with the lab ombudsman deems to threaten the learning environment will be handled using a three-strike policy. First and second strikes will include a warning and education (designed to help individuals understand why their behavior was inappropriate). Third strike will result in expulsion from the lab.  

For full-time university employees, UNC-Chapel Hill Human Resources has official policies regarding disciplinary processes. For graduate students, disciplinary processes may include removal from the lab, and the Clinical Psychology Program Director would be consulted. 

Please read these resources, embedded within this Code of Conduct, specifically:

All active CIRCLE lab members are required to sign and abide by this code of conduct agreement. We maintain a signed copy in our lab drive.