The dating experiment
While psychologists do publish their findings publicly, we don’t assume that the public reads academic journals, so we must debrief each participant directly.Of course, a key difference between academic research (at universities and institutions like NIH/NSF) and research at private companies like Facebook or OKCupid is that academic researchers must have their research approved by an ethics board. S., we call this an Institutional Review Board (IRB).Some countries don’t even have any IRB process for minimal risk research (they only have IRB for studies with substantial risk, like medical/drug trials).In America the federal government offers general guidelines, but each individual institution that conducts research sets its own ethical standards, and there is substantial variability in what IRBs consider “risk” to participants.And ultimately, the net effect on people’s mood was So people’s outrage may have been a bit of an overreaction.Researchers are also required to inform participants that they were deceived after an experiment involving deception has ended.This is essentially a committee of people who oversee and approve studies on humans/animals, with a keen eye on ethical considerations.They do a qualitative “cost-benefit analysis” to see if the risk to participants is less than the beneficial knowledge we would get from the study.
So in OKCupid’s experiment, the worst that could possibly happen is that a participant goes on an unsuccessful date with someone whom they met on the site.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, users were more likely to exchange messages with each other when they Read about a classic experiment here that shows this effect.