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Deception Impacts in Psychological Research Essay

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Updated: Apr 22nd, 2020

Introduction

Research plays a crucial role in making known the unknown. The conduct of research has been applied in different fields such as nursing, criminology and psychology. Research is based on the ascertainment of facts for scientific fields and proves of theories for philosophical fields (Goodwin, 2010). This paper outlines the concept of deceit in research. In addition, the ethics and risk/benefit ratio for psychological research are also explained.

Defining Ethics

The word “ethics” is usually used in research to refer to good practices associated with given procedure. In research, it is also important that guidelines associated with it are followed to the latter. Moral standards regard ethics as an obvious phenomenon. In addition, huge investments, personal risks and discomfort require that research ethics are followed (Russell, 2009). Unethical research practices include excessive risks compared to benefits, inadequate information and incorrect samples.

Poor selection of participants and inappropriate allocation of resources are also serious unethical practices. Research integrity is vital in data analysis. Statistical analysis ensures that the data used is of acceptable quality and quantity. Use of statistical tools that minimize the errors and uncertainties is encouraged. Research hypotheses should be formulated in advance. Modern statistical tools are customized to produce significant results from a range of studies.

Risk/benefit Ratio

Risk/benefit ratio is used to ascertain the viability of any research finding. It is important to appreciate that risk and benefits are encountered in any research finding. Risk refers to the likelihood that physical, psychological, social and economic harm would occur within a research finding. The likelihood and magnitude of risk in any given research range from being minimal to considerable (Russell, 2009). Minimal risk is said to occur once the anticipated discomfort is less.

Risks that exceed the minimal mark are considered maximal. They limit proper conduct of research and call for increased monitoring. Maximal risks should be accompanied with stringent approval processes especially when the research targets vulnerable populations. Ideally, maximal risk should be countered by increased benefits to make the research viable.

Benefits refer to the potential of the research to realize its intended purpose. The benefits may accrue to an individual or a population. Results from prior studies may have benefits to present and subsequent research. Researchers should ensure that the choice of research methods is based on accuracy of data, cost minimization and results oriented (Goodwin, 2010).

Risk/ benefits ratio is used as a parameter to measure the worth of a research (Russell, 2009). The ratio compares the risks anticipated and encountered against the benefits realized. In the event that physical risk is minimal, researchers should not overlook psychological and social skills. Such risks include stigma. It is unethical to conduct research on stigmatized populations since the viability of the research is impaired. A research therefore aims at increasing the benefits while minimizing the risks.

The realization of a favorable risk/benefit ratio should not ignore the following ethical principles; autonomy, beneficence and justice. Autonomy obliges the researchers to respect the views of all participants involved in the study. In addition, the participants should be aware of the objectives of the study, risks and benefits and possible alternatives. Beneficence obliges the researchers to make attempts towards maximization of benefits and minimization of risks. Risk/benefit calculations should be clearly given (Goodwin, 2010).

Justice principle obliges researchers to carry out an equitable selection of populations. The selection of participants on grounds of coercion or undue influence is discouraged. Some of the vulnerable persons to be exempted from research studies are prisoners, children and insane people. The risks and benefits should be shared equally among all participants involved in the research.

Deception in Research

Deception may either be partial disclosure or misrepresentation of research information. Partial disclosure is said to occur in situations where the researcher deliberately conceals the objectives of a research. Participants are therefore ignorant of some research information. Misrepresentation, on the other hand, occurs when a researcher misleads the participants in regard to the study objectives (Goodwin, 2010).Whether the deception is a partial disclosure or misrepresentation should not affect the objectivity of carrying out the research.

The willingness of the participants to be part of the research should not be compromised. Post-session debriefing is important in ensuring that deception does not influence the objectivity of the research. Debriefing sessions are characterized by full disclosure of the deception, actual explanation of purpose of the study and reasons for the deception (Goodwin, 2010). These sessions also provide a platform for participants to give an informed consent to the application of their data in research.

Regulatory and advisory bodies are aware of the fact that deception is a common phenomenon. They advocate for the minimization of risks associated with deception. The American Psychological Association (APA) regards deception as an ethical venture in situations where non-deceptive options are unavailable.

Social benefits of die research may also exceed the costs of deceptive practices, thereby making deception viable (Russell, 2009). According to Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), deception may be totally inevitable in situations where alternative procedures lack. In the event that negative effects are not predicted, the use of deception should be discouraged.

Impact of Deception

Deception has received mixed reaction from researchers and participants. Whereas some researchers advocate for the procedure, some criticize it. They render it morally unacceptable and socially unethical. In fact the society regards deception as a means of creating social mistrust between the scientists and lay persons. Research however indicates that there was more research experience attributed to deceptive experiments than non-deceptive experiments.

In addition, educational benefit was observed among deceptive subjects. Scholars consider deception as desirable and an acceptable research methodology. Researchers are becoming aware of the fact that deception is a viable option in situations where non-deceptive research is costly, less accurate and impossible.

Both APA and CPA consider deception to be socially ethical on grounds of lack of alternative procedures (Russell, 2009). It is nevertheless important to conduct post-session debriefing sessions to ensure that participants’ willingness to cooperate in the research remains uncompromised.

Conclusion

Research conducted is prone to several risks and benefits. It is important that research ethics are observed in ensuring that research yields the intended results, In addition, risks should be maintained at low levels while benefits should be maximized. Ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence and justice should be adhered to ensure that the risk/benefit ratio realized is fair to both the researcher and the participants.

Studies indicate that little information is available regarding the nature of deception on public behaviors. Deception is rampant in modern times. The frequent deception of research participants only means that deception is here to stay. The use of deception in psychological research is expected to last for many years to come.

References

Goodwin, J. (2010). Research in Psychology: Methods and Design. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Russell, B. (2009). Understanding Research Essentials: Designing and Execute Research Studies. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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