Ethically Recruit Participants for an Experiment

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Ethics Tip: Ethically Recruit
Participants for an Experiment


Not only should you prescreen potential participants for characteristics you want to include or omit from your study, but you should also prescreen for ethical purposes. In particular:

  1. Be sure that anyone who you ask to participate in your study is legally able to give consent to participate. In particular, unless you have parental consent for their participation, you should screen out any person under 18.
  2. Be sure that you screen out those who would be at increased risk in your study. For example, if you will be having participants eat or drink something be sure you screen out those who might be allergic to the food or have ethical concerns with consuming the food.

Informed Consent

Most experiments require the informed consent of participants. One exception is if the DV is measured with observations in a public environment and there is no physical or emotional risk to participants. Review Chapter 1 for information about the informed consent process, and keep in mind the following when conducting an experiment:

  1. Even though not all participants will experience the same conditions, you should tell all your participants what might occur (e.g., “the study might involve listening to a three-minute song” or “you may be asked to use a mobile device while walking through a situation designed to simulate traffic”).
  2. You do not need to inform participants of your hypotheses, the exact topic of study, or that participants will experience different conditions based on random assignment.
Drawn From
Research Methods, Statistics, and ApplicationsThis material is drawn from the SAGE Publishing text, Research Methods, Statistics, and Applications, by Kathrynn Adams and Eva Lawrence. The book consistently integrates methods and statistics to prepare students for both graduate work and critical analysis of research as professionals and informed citizens; while also maintaining the conversational writing style, multiple examples, and hands-on applications of key concepts.

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