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Social contract theory and the ethics of deception in consumer research

Author: Smith, N. Craig ; Kimmel, Allan J. ; Klein, Jill GabrielleINSEAD Area: Faculty at LargeIn: Journal of Consumer Psychology, vol. 19, no. 3, 2009 Language: EnglishDescription: p. 486-496.Type of document: INSEAD ArticleNote: Please ask us for this itemAbstract: Deception of research participants is a pervasive ethical issue in experimental consumer research. Content analyses find as many as threefourths of published human participant studies in our field involved some form of deception, almost all of which employed experimental methodologies. However, researchers have little guidance on the acceptability of the use of deception, notwithstanding the codes of root disciplines. We turn to theories of moral philosophy and use social contract theory specifically to identify conditions under which deception may be justified as morally permissible. Seven guiding principles for research practice are formulated and their implications for consumer researchers are identified, together with practical recommendations for decision making on studies involving deception
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Deception of research participants is a pervasive ethical issue in experimental consumer research. Content analyses find as many as threefourths of published human participant studies in our field involved some form of deception, almost all of which employed experimental methodologies. However, researchers have little guidance on the acceptability of the use of deception, notwithstanding the codes of root disciplines. We turn to theories of moral philosophy and use social contract theory specifically to identify conditions under which deception may be justified as morally permissible. Seven guiding principles for research practice are formulated and their implications for consumer researchers are identified, together with practical recommendations for decision making on studies involving deception

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