Uninformed Consent? The Effect of Participant Characteristics and Delivery Format on Informed Consent

Ethics and Behavior 28 (7):517-543 (2018)
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Although many people choose to sign consent forms and participate in research, how many thoroughly read a consent form before signing it? Across 3 experiments using 348 undergraduate student participants, we examined whether personality characteristics as well as consent form content, format, and delivery method were related to thorough reading. Students repeatedly failed to read the consent forms, although small effects were found favoring electronic delivery methods and traditional format forms. Potential explanations are discussed and include participant apathy, participants trying to save time by not reading the consent form, and participant assumptions about consent forms.



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