In psychological research with human subjects, it is not uncommon practice to use deceptive techniques. Deception is considered necessary when accurately informing participants about the goal of the research could bias their responses, thereby impairing the validity of the resulting data. Thus, the practice of deception can be situated in the area of tension between on the one hand the duty of researchers and the research community to treat research participants with respect, and on the other hand scientific and methodological standards which are decisive for the scientific value of the research.
In this paper, firstly different forms and topics of deception are described. Then the morally problematic character of deception is assessed and two different ethical approaches to the practice of deception are distinguished. In the final part of the paper an ethically justifiable way of dealing with deception in psychological research is proposed. (Netherlands Journal of Psychology, 63, 14-20.)
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Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Department of Health Ethics and Philosophy, Maastricht University
Correspondence to: Ron L.P. Berghmans, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Department of Health Ethics and Philosophy, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, NL 6200 MD Maastricht. E-mail: email@example.com
Submitted 10 April 2006; revision accepted 8 January 2007.