An Anthropologist conducted research regarding head hunting. He wants to know the people involved in head hunting, the factors which affect them to engage therein, and the psychological effect of...

An Anthropologist conducted research regarding head hunting. He wants to know the people involved in head hunting, the factors which affect them to engage therein, and the psychological effect of this activity on the person involved. However, people are aware that killing is punishable under the law and they are afraid the they may be put in danger. Thus no one wants to be involved in the research. If you are the psychological researcher, what will you do in order to continue the research?

Asked on by kju407

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As I understand it, you are essentially asking how we could conduct research into headhunting even though the people who engage in that practice will be reluctant to respond because they will not want to get in trouble with the law.  There are two ways I can see to accomplish this.

First, you could conduct your research in a way that guarantees anonymity.  You could use written surveys that you send out by mail or over the internet.  You could potentially conduct anonymous interviews over the phone.  By doing your interviews in this way, you would get your information while protecting the subjects.  They would be less fearful because they would not be meeting face to face with you and would have much less reason to fear that you would be able to identify them to the authorities.

The problem that I see with this is that I highly doubt that you are likely to be able to contact people who engage in headhunting by mail, phone, or internet.  It seems much more likely that these people live in areas of the world where communications infrastructure is minimal.  Therefore, I think we need to find another way.  What I would suggest is conducting interviews face to face while preserving your subjects’ safety by conducting your interviews in a way that would allow them to talk to you without acknowledging wrongdoing.

What I would do is to ask people to talk about other, unnamed people that they know who engage in headhunting.  I would start my interview by saying something like this: “I’m conducting research into headhunting.  I know that headhunting is against the law so I know you, yourself, would never engage in it.  However, you might know other people who have engaged in headhunting.  Let us talk about what you have heard from those people.”  I might even explicitly say “if you have engaged in headhunting, you can tell me about it simply by saying that you are talking about what you have heard from others.” 

If you ask your questions like this, you are more likely to get people to talk about headhunting while protecting themselves from possible legal trouble.

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