A confederate's perspective on deception

Ethics and Behavior 1 (4):253 – 258 (1991)
In this article, I outline my position regarding the use of deception in psychology experiments, based on my experience as a confederate. I describe an experiment I participated in and the problems resulting from the study: subjects' differing responses to the deception; angry reactions of some subjects to the experiment; and the general discomfort of both subjects and confederates, in particular, who had their doubts concerning the external validity of the study and the ethics involved in running it. issues of informed consent and debriefing are also addressed; it is argued that the success of deception depends on the subject being misinformed as to the experiment's true nature and that debriefing itself sometimes angers subjects. I encourage a decrease in the use of deception and the reexamination of a system that attempts to balance the pain of experimental participants with anticipated benefit to scientific knowledge.
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