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Human Participant Policy

Participation in experiments through the Human Participant Pool of the Psychology Department serves two important functions. First, participants in experiments gain valuable insight into the procedures and methodology of the discipline of psychology. This allows them to experience firsthand what subjects must do and helps them to achieve insight into both the potential strengths and weaknesses of modern psychological research. Second, participants play a fundamental role in the research endeavors of the department.

A large pool of participants is crucial for successfully carrying out of the departmental research mission for understanding human psychological functioning.

It is important that the department’s human participant policy balance these two functions. The following points (with supporting rationale) thus constitute the department’s human participant policy.

  • All students enrolled in Psychology 1010 will be required to obtain direct experience with the methodology of psychological research. This requirement can be met by obtaining six (6) points through one of the following means (or combination thereof), 1) participation in psychology experiments (1 hour of participation = 1 point), or 2) by responding to a brief set of questions regarding methodology on each of four different psychology journal articles (1 set of questions = 1 point). The chair is authorized to explore other options such as the completion of computerized demonstration experiments. The availability of an option(s) to research participation is linked to principles 6.11 and 6.14 of the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (American Psychologist, December, 1992). Rationale: These procedures should provide introductory psychology students with experience in the methodologies of psychological research and thus should provide a means of achieving the first function noted above.
  • Students enrolled in Psychology 1010 may participate in additional experiments, or respond to additional question sets over additional articles for extra credit (1 hour of participation = 1 point).
  • Faculty members teaching other psychology courses may choose to have their classes participate in the human participant pool on a voluntary extra credit basis.
  • In both Psychology 1010 and in other courses participating in the participant pool, it is recommended that the total number of extra credit points permitted should fall between 4 to 6 percent of the total points for the course. Rationale: Points a and b allow students in psychology classes to participate on a voluntary basis for extra credit points. This should provide a means of achieving the second function of the participant pool noted above.
  • The catalog course description for Psychology 1010 and the course syllabi for all 1010 sections will include the following statement which specifies that all students must meet the requirement noted in point 1 above.
  • "All students are required to obtain experience with the methodology of psychological research through participation in psychology experiments or through the completion of an equivalent option. According to ethical guidelines, individuals may withdraw, without penalty, at any time from an experiment in which they are participating.” Rationale: This insures that all students enrolling in 1010 have prior access to a statement of the requirement noted in point 1.
  • All experimenters making use of the human participants pool are to provide debriefing information to participants so they can understand the basic issues and methodology employed in the studies in which they participate. Preferably this should be presented at the immediate conclusion of the participant’s participation in the study. If this is not possible, some form of written or oral debriefing information should be made available at the earliest possible opportunity. Rationale: This point insures that participants in experiments will obtain information regarding the methodology of the study in addition to their own observations through participation. This should help achieve the first function noted above.
  • When students fail to attend an experiment for which they have signed up, other students and the experimenter may be negatively affected (e.g., group experiments may need to be canceled). If students are unable to attend experiments for which they signed up they should cancel their appointment directly at least one hour prior to the time of the experiment. If access to the web-based experiment management system is not possible, students can contact the experimenter or the Study Management System administrator (Dr. Jeffrey Vancouver) at least one hour prior to the time of the experiment. Multiple failures to do so will result in limited access to the sign-up system. However, all students who attend an experiment for which they have signed up may choose to withdraw from the experiment at any time for any reason. If they do withdraw they will be given credit for all completed parts of the experiment including the session for which they withdrew.
  • In a similar manner, experimenters who fail to attend experimental sessions for which they are scheduled, negatively affect students who signed up for the experiment. Such experimenters may not be permitted to continue to make use of the participant pool. Rationale: This point is aimed at insuring that both students and experimenters meet social obligations affecting other individuals. It also insures that students who attend an experiment and object to the experiment for any reason at any time may withdraw without penalty.