When dealing with the public, and with Institution Review Boards (IRBs), the moral high ground is the place to be. Yet, personality researchers and social psychologists, because of their methods and interests, often find themselves down in a moral morass. Take deception research as a case in point. Social psychologists, because they study people’s spontaneous reactions, prefer to not fully inform participants about all aspects of the situation until after the data have been gathered. This desire to withhold information, although scientifically essential, is nonetheless inconsistent with key elements in the Nuremberg Code, the Belmont Code, and HHS 45 CFR 46.407 ("407"), the “common rule.” These codes maintain that voluntary consent of the fully informed non-coerced participant is essential in the research process. IRBs are duty-bound to make certain that researchers respect this requirement.

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2008

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2008 Society for Personality and Social Psychology. This article first appeared in Dialogue 23:1 (2008), 7.

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