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Can I run studies that deceive participants?

You are welcome to run studies that deceive participants about specific elements of your study, or about the study's overall purpose. For example, you may wish to tell participants that they will be interacting with another participant when in fact they are communicating with an AI bot, or you could wish to tell participants that your study is about marketing when it is actually about discrimination.

If you intend to run a study that deceives participants we ask that you follow the guidelines below:

  • You must apply the 'deception' prescreener to your study and select the response 'Yes, I would be comfortable to take part in such a study'. This will ensure that only participants who have indicated that they would be happy to be deceived will be invited to your study. Participants are not able to see which prescreeners have been applied to studies, and therefore will have no indication that the study may involve deception.
  • Your study must not collect any personally identifiable information, even if this data is not available to the research team or will not be used. Please see the article Can I ask Participants for their Personal Information/Identifiers? for more information.
  • You must provide a thorough debrief for participants at the end of the study. This should explain the true purpose of the study. It may be appropriate here to provide support information for participants if the study was regarding topics of a sensitive nature. Additionally, it may be appropriate to give participants a further opportunity to withdraw consent for their data to be used.

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