Presentation on theme: "Deception Research in the Social/Behavioral Sciences Joan E. Sieber Editor, Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics."— Presentation transcript:
Deception Research in the Social/Behavioral Sciences Joan E. Sieber Editor, Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics
Why is Deception Employed? Researchers use deception to study how people fool themselves about the way they will behave in certain kinds of situations.
What kinds of deception are employed in social sciences today? Deception studies today are innocuous, not like the Milgram study. Much important deception research is occurring in experimental economics – studies of everyday economic decisions and the irrational biases that affect this behavior. Psychologists do not employ heavy inductions.
What kinds of behavior need to be studied through deception methods? Generally behavior that is more subject to biases and external factors than we think it is. Examples: – Milgram study – Adolf Eichmann was right. – Ponzi schemes and related phenomena: why we fall for deals that are too good to be true.
When is deception research ethical? It is unethical as a means of tricking people into doing something they would not want to participate in. How do we know what people would consider unacceptable? – The surrogate subject method. – Consent to deception.
When is deception appropriate? For validity: to achieve random assignment and stimulus control. To study low-frequency responses. To obtain valid data without serious risk to participants. To obtain information that people cannot validly self-report.
Is the term “deception” a red herring? Should Milgram’s study be lumped with studies in experimental economics, studies such as Isen’s study of effects of inducing positive emotions on kindness, etc. as though all are equally harmful or unacceptable? My answer: No.
When might concealment or deception entail moral or other risk? Important questions: What is the social perception of the behavior, negative or positive? How private and potentially embarrassing is the behavior? How powerfully is the behavior induced?
Other important questions: Does the research experience, per se, upset the participant? Does the debriefing upset the participant? Does knowledge about the research findings create upset? Does he study procedure upset the research staff?
How can review and consent issues be handled? The Federal regulations permit deception but fail to make important distinctions. The following distinctions are proposed: Research on everyday experiences should not be treated as disrespecting autonomy. Expedited review should be permitted. Use some form of consent to withhold detail or simply describe what subject will experience.
If research is not on everyday behavior, or heavily induced, or on negative behavior, or likely to be upsetting, the researcher must prove: Research addresses nontrivial question and is validly designed. Researcher has skill and resources to minimize upset. Debriefing leaves subject knowledgeable and satisfied. A procedure such as the “Reactions to Research Participation Questionnaire (RRPQ) will be employed after each trial to ensure that no harm is occurring. Some form of consent will be employed (see Miller).
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