Should Deception Be Used In Psychological Research Essay

1299 Words 6 Pages
Ishan Shah
Mrs. Lorenzo
Psychology AP G Block
23rd October 2014

Should deception be used in psychological research? In order for psychologists to get favorable results, they use the concept of deception in their research. This concept has been in use for countless years, whether it be a trick played by the military on the battlefield during a war, or by psychologists simply trying to understand human behavior better. Over time, this idea of tricking subjects has sparked controversy. Some believe deception is an integral factor in getting accurate results, whereas others believe deception is wrong and should not be used at all. The main question is, should deception be used in psychological research?
In the article Subject Reaction: The
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Murray asserts that the most harm comes to the volunteer in the experiment. Experiments containing deception are usually testing how a subject handles stress. The subject can only be properly tested if they believe the situation they are put in. The effects of such stress could have negative effects on the subject. A good example of how deception is harmful is the prison experiment conducted by psychologist Philip Zimbardo. Even Murray has noted some noticeable effects of deception in research. He recalls subjects that were trembling, having trouble talking with clenched teeth, having their face drained of color, and stuttering when speaking (Murray 350). Murray discusses how the debriefing is superficial and how psychologists are not trained to look for anxiety. Furthermore, the concept of deception is also felt by the psychologist themselves. Most social psychologists already have stressful jobs, and the fact that they have to manipulate and lie to subjects just adds to the stress. In addition, using deception gives a negative connotation to social psychology. Murray adds that social psychologists are looked upon as “the tricksters of science” (Murray 334) because they are known to use deception in experiments. Deception is immoral and provides unfavorable effects on subjects and …show more content…
Even if a researcher places an honest advertisement for volunteers in a study, there will still be people willing to participate. Deception is not necessary to get volunteers. An example is the prison experiment by Philip Zimbardo. He placed an advertisement telling the truth about the experiment and he found that more than enough people were willing to participate. Another point supporting deception is that if subjects are told the truth, they will behave differently, ultimately causing the experiment to fail. High moral standards are required in order to successfully carry out an experiment. Again in Zimbardo’s study, each subject knows the truth, but yet still experienced behavioral changes. Prior to the experiment, each subject was deemed to be psychologically and physically ‘healthy’. As the experiment progressed, the subjects went through drastic changes in behavior. Subjects playing prison guards became violent and truly believed they should be cruel to the subjects playing inmates. In addition, each of the inmates experienced high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. This goes to show that even without deception, the subjects will likely go through behavioral changes similar to those when deception is used. Deception should not be used because of the trauma and psychological pain that could ensue as a

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