Deception In Psychological Research

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When conducting research studies many code of ethics come into play. A researcher has an obligation to follow the code of ethics. Many ethical standards must be followed when dealing with research. When conducting research as well as gathering data there are several ways to do so. Depending on whom you ask some ways are considered ethical and appropriate and some are unethical and inappropriate.

Using deception to obtain information is a debatable issue on whether it is ethical or unethical by obtaining data in such a manner. The following paper will define what ethics is along with, discussing the concept of risk/benefit ratio, describing exactly what deception in research is, as well as evaluating the impact deception in research has on psychological research. Deception occurs whenever participants are not completely informed of procedures and goals of the research.

According to Wikipedia, “ethics is a branch of philosophy which seeks to address questions about mortality, how moral values should be determined, how a moral outcome can be achieved in a specific situation, how moral capacity or a moral agency develops and what its nature is, and what moral values people actually abide by (Wikipedia). Ethics deals greatly with morals. What is considered to be morally wrong depends on the individual you are speaking with. Morals describe how individuals should act and the principles that reflect what is good for individuals.

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When Is Deception Used In Psychological Research

Another factor that is used to determine ethical standards is the risk/benefit ratio. “The risk/benefit ratio is a subjective evaluation of the risk to a research participant relative to the benefit both individual and the society of the results of the proposed research. ” (Shaghnessy, Zechmeister, & Zechmeister, 2009) The Institutional Review Boards (IRB) reviews all psychological research in order to protect the rights and welfare of the individuals participating in the research studies (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister, & Zechmeister, 2009). In order for research to be approved benefits must outweigh the risks.

The IRB will not approve research where the risks outweigh the benefits. There are several potential risks that one may run across in psychological research and these risks need to be observed to find out whether or not it will harm the participants of the study. Each individual will not be the same, what may be a risk for one participant may not be a risk for the other participants. The types of injuries may vary from those that are physical, social, or mental (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister, & Zechmeister, 2009). No matter how small a risk may be, researchers should try to minimize the risks and protect each individual.

When there happens to be a potential risk, researchers need to use informed consent procedures for all participants involved (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister, & Zechmeister, 2009). Informed consent is a legal condition whereby a person can be said to have given consent based upon a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications and future consequences of an action. In order to give informed consent, the individual concerned must have adequate reasoning faculties and be in possession of all relevant facts at the time consent is given.

Impairments to reasoning and judgment which would make it impossible for someone to give informed consent include such factors as severe mental retardation, severe mental illness, intoxication, severe sleep deprivation, Alzheimer’s disease, or being in a coma. (http://psychology. wikia. com/wiki/Informed_consent). “Researchers are ethically obligated to describe the research procedures clearly, identify any potential risks that might influence individuals’ willingness to participate, and answer any questions participants have regarding the research (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister, & Zechmeister, 2009).

There are several ways to gather data and information on a research or study. One way is to use deception or misrepresent oneself in research. In a classic study known as the Miligram Obedience Study of 1961, Stanley Miligram recruited 40men using a newspaper ad. In exchange for their participation, each person was paid $4. 50. Milgram developed an intimidating shock generator, with shock levels starting at 30 volts and increasing in 15-volt increments all the way up to 450 volts.

The many switches were labeled with terms including “slight shock,” “moderate shock” and “danger: severe shock. ” The final two switches were labeled simply with an ominous “XXX”. Each participant took the role of a “teacher” who would then deliver a shock to the “student” every time an incorrect answer was produced. While the participant believed that he was delivering real shocks to the student, the student was actually a confederate in the experiment who was simply pretending to be shocked.

As the experiment progressed, the participant would hear the learner plead to be released or even complain about a heart condition. Once the 300-volt level had been reached, the learner banged on the wall and demanded to be released. Beyond this point, the learner became completely silent and refused to answer any more questions. The experimenter then instructed the participant to treat this silence as an incorrect response and deliver a further shock. ( http:// psychology. about. com/od/history of psychology/a/milligram. htm).

Miligram wouldn’t have come to the conclusions he did if he didn’t misrepresent himself to the participants. If Miligram told the 40 men what he was doing the participants probably would not have cooperated with him. Deception and misrepresenting oneself for psychological research is very controversial and has a huge impact on research today. Deception has caused a great deal of harm to subjects all around the world, due to this informed consent has been put into place. The subjects are not aware of the real reasons of the study due to misrepresentation.

When it’s all said and done, ethics is a big issue in conducting studies and research. Researchers are held accountable while conducting these studies and the have an obligation to follow the code of ethics during them. I personally feel that any type of deception should be labeled as unethical and should not be used. Furthermore, there are individuals that feel it is okay to use deception as long as it doesn’t cause any harm to the individuals. Ethics is a large part of conducting research and every researcher needs to conduct himself in an ethical manner.

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Deception In Psychological Research. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Deception In Psychological Research
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