The dating experiment Sexcams with no signup or verifying
While psychologists do publish their findings publicly, we don’t assume that the public reads academic journals, so we must debrief each participant directly.
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.
In their experiment, OKCupid randomly selected some of its users to see a very high match percentage (90%) when, in reality, their actual match was much lower (30%).
Importantly, OKCupid users had no idea that the match % they saw was actually fake.
Participants are also told about the potential risks and benefits if they choose to participate, and participants sign a form indicating that they understand all of this information about the study. But sometimes researchers will use deception, when necessary, which is an official scientific term to denote when researchers do not fully describe the purpose of the study before it begins.
In such studies, participants are not informed about the nature of the study until afterwards.