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ResourcesHuman Research EthicsDebriefing for ego threat may require more than we thought – Psychology & More (Dana C. Leighton, Ph.D. | July 2019)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Debriefing for ego threat may require more than we thought – Psychology & More (Dana C. Leighton, Ph.D. | July 2019)

 


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When social psychologists manipulate a participant’s attitudes or beliefs, we have an ethical obligation to undo that manipulation. I explain it to my students as “putting the participant back the way we found them.” We frequently use a debriefing procedure, in the form of a written and/or (as in the case of my lab) verbal notice something to the effect of “yuk yuk, gosh, ya know what? we were just kidding. the thing you (read/did) was fake, we made it up, and it doesn’t mean anything.” Here is an example from the verbal debriefing script I used in a study several years ago that presented participants with a fake newspaper article about vandalism by University of Texas students.

I want to thank you for your participation here today and for your contribution to this project. We really appreciate your help with this work. Let me tell you a little bit about what we are trying to study.

First, we want to assure you that the incident you read about never happened on the campus. We created a fake newspaper article about it in order to better understand how people respond to these kinds of situations. To our knowledge, no University of Texas students have ever been involved in such an incident.

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The full article is behind a paywall, but here’s the reference:
Miketta, S., & Friese, M. (2019). Debriefed but still troubled? About the (in)effectiveness of postexperimental debriefings after ego threat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000155



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