Alexander Pope, who opined that "the proper study of man is man," did not have to convince an Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the wisdom of his words. Just this week I was told that I could not use the question "What city does your romantic partner live in?" to check if the subject was in a long-distant relationship (made the partner too identifiable). Earlier in the year a reviewer objected to asking students about their mother and father's parenting style (reports on the behavior of unconsented third parties). When I said I would recruit participants from classes, the reviewer wanted to know the precise wording of the speech that would be used in the recruitment, and warned that ad libs would not be tolerated. I comply with these requests, feeling very much like a subject in Milgram's obedience study pushing the lever down one more time.
Copyright © 2004 Society for Personality and Social Psychology. This article first appeared in Dialogue 19:2 (2004), 14, 15, 29.
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Forsyth, Donelson R. "IRBism: Prejudice Against Institutional Review Boards." Dialogue 23 (Fall 2004): 14, 15, 29.