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Was Laud Humphreys's tea room study ethical?There is a lot of controversy on whether or...

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chachikoch | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted February 8, 2012 at 9:28 AM via web

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Was Laud Humphreys's tea room study ethical?

There is a lot of controversy on whether or not the tea room study was ethical considering he disguised himself, lied about why he was interviewing people, and published very personal and private information that those men most likely did not want published. So was it ethical or not?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 8, 2012 at 9:47 AM (Answer #1)

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In today's world, what Humphreys did was completely unethical.  His work would never be approved by any sort of a human subjects review board today.  The main reason for this is that social science research ethics is based on the idea that human subjects need to consent to be "used" as subjects.  They have to be told that they are the subject of social science research.  Researchers are generally required to obtain the informed consent of any subjects that they use in their studies.  Because Humphreys did not do these things, his conduct would today be considered unethical. This is true for sociolinguistic studies, too.

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