Skip to Content

Resources :: Guide :: Deception :: When is deception appropriate?

When is Deception and/or Witholding Information from Participants Appropriate?

The APA (American Psychological Association) Ethics Code (2002) includes the following regarding deception:

    • Psychologists do not conduct a study involving deception unless they have determined that the use of deceptive techniques is justified by the study‚Äôs significant prospective scientific, educational, or applied value and that effective nondeceptive alternative procedures are not feasible.
    • Psychologists do not deceive prospective participants about research that is reasonably expected to cause physical pain or severe emotional distress.
    • Psychologists explain any deception that is an integral feature of the design and conduct of an experiment to participants as early as is feasible, preferably at the conclusion of their participation, but no later than at the conclusion of the data collection, and permit participants to withdraw their data.

In other words, researchers should not use deception unless it is the best and only feasible method, it will not cause pain or distress, and participants will have the opportunity to understand the deception as soon as possible with the option to withdraw their data should they so choose.

Previous :: Deception
Next :: Deception and the consent process