Deceptive field experiments of discrimination: are they ethical?

P. Riach, Judy Rich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Field experiments in which bogus pairs of transactors test for discrimination by applying for employment or housing, or by trading in product markets, have been widely-published during the last decade. However, no detailed justification has been provided for the deception involved. The general lack of veracity in the market-place, the social harm inflicted by discrimination and the superior accuracy and transparency of this technique justify deceiving the subjects of experiments. Deception of testers, however, may do them harm, contravenes the ethical standards of psychologists and sociologists and is unnecessary, as alternative procedures are available to deal with ‘experimenter effects’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-470
Number of pages14
JournalKyklos: International Review of Social Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004


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