15 March 2011

Coercing Research

So I have been having a little bit of trouble with respect to doing my dissertation research. Not that I am hitting a dead end, but it is more along the lines of lack of participants for experiments.

See, if things were doing okay, people who would be taking Psych 101 classes would be required to do a bunch of experiments as part of the Psych 101 learning experience. However, for some reason, that was taken as being coercive, and therefore the rules were changed. There are now alternative ways of earning this credit without doing the experiment. However, it seems that the alternative way is way more easy and therefore the participants aren't coming to the labs and instead doing that alternative task.

See, I understand that research should be done ethically. I understand that I cannot force people to undergo pain and humiliation. I understand that I cannot replicate the Zimbardo Prison Experiment anymore, given current standards on ethics. But hey, I am not doing anything close to those. I am just asking people to read sentences, I am just asking them to write stories, I am just asking them to rate certain constructions.

Sometimes, I find it odd and counter-intuitive that a university would want its research units to stop doing research. Because in essence it boils down to that. Without participants, one cannot do research. I do understand that they are fixing this matter so that next semester things would be better, but in the meantime, I get to be cranky and mean. And it forces me to apply for a grant, so that I don't have to depend on the subject pool when recruiting participants.


(Stone Footpaths, from my Cuzco's Colonial Structures Series)


  1. Why would the student be offer the choice to not take the experiment? That's strange. It seems like a normal requirements. Were they complaints?

  2. Zhu,

    It's because they don't want to say that they are coercing people to participate in experiments. Participation should be voluntary, not forced, but at the same time, if students from PSY 101 aren't ehem, required to do experiments, then research would be really really slow.