Social Question

prolificus's avatar

When is deception justified?

Asked by prolificus (6583points) May 1st, 2010

I have taken research/design courses in undergrad and graduate school. I understand that there are certain guidelines for using deception in research.

This article on Purdue University’s website briefly discusses ethical guidelines on the use of deceit in research.

When it comes to interacting in an online forum, when is deception justified? If it is justifiable, what should be the procedures for using deception?

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8 Answers

Basketcase's avatar

Do you mean NOT posting that something is a hypothetical and getting people emotionally involved with something thinking it is real when it is just an experiment for research?

What kind of research? Is it emotional or just inert?

Like asking something harmless like “What color makes you feel cold?” or something like a fake person in need of help?

If a person poses as a person who needs help that provokes emotion it is NOT right.
It is like using them as guinea pigs. These are real people not machines.They have feelings.

More than once a person has posted being suicidal and never returned. It hurts the users to beg them to seek help and not hear back.

People care. Investing them emotionally in an experiment against their knowledge is trolling.

However if it is not emotional and the researcher is asking something like “I want to know the best color scheme for my living room” then I do not see the harm if the researcher does not actually have a living room you are redecorating.

prolificus's avatar

@Basketcase – If the made up persona is real, as in its a real situation and is being discussed from a different perspective, then would that still be considered trolling IF the intent is to work through a personal situation, just from another perspective?

Basketcase's avatar

So you are saying the researcher poses as another human with issues to see how the people react.

This means that the person is essentially fake based on a living person not involved and no amount of energy or caring posted by users will benefit or change anything because the person who is being faked is not actually seeking advice.

In this scenario I still say it is trolling. The researcher is deliberately invoking the emotions of others.

On the other hand- if instead of posting something as a fake person they were to post it as a hypothetical I am quite sure a forum (such as Fluther) would rise to the occasion of providing great advice and information. WIN WIN!

prolificus's avatar

@Basketcase – But the discussion does benefit the one who asked because, as I am the one who asked, I was able to see better ways to deal with the situation. I was able to see pieces I had missed in dealing with the person. None of the responses were wasted because it was affirming to the one who asked.

wonderingwhy's avatar

So long as the deception does not impinge upon the deceived you are pretty much in the clear. The problem is discerning such influence and to what extent its affect is considered ethical in each instance. And there’s always the additional problem of the appearance of impropriety.

One can always argue that the benefits of such research outweigh the effects upon the deceived when such effects are properly managed and provided for. But every case must be weighed individually and the responsibility of the participants safety is the researchers.

jerv's avatar

I find deception justifiable only for certain types of military/law enforcement operations or in a casual game like Poker.

Silhouette's avatar

Never deceive research participants about significant aspects that would affect their willingness to participate, such as physical risks, discomfort, or unpleasant emotional experiences.

mattbrowne's avatar

During a police investigation.

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