Illusions of Reality
A History of Deception in Social Psychology
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Examines the origins and the development of the use of deception in psychological research to create illusions of reality.
Some psychologists think it is almost always wrong to deceive research subjects, while others think the use of deception is essential if significant human problems are to receive scientific study. Illusions of Reality shows how deception is used in psychological research to create illusions of reality—situations that involve research subjects without revealing the true purpose of the experiment. The book examines the origins and development of this practice that have lead to some of the most dramatic and controversial studies in the history of psychology.
Social psychology may be the only area of research where the research methods sometimes are as interesting as the results. The most impressive experiments in this field produce their impact by creating situations that lead research subjects to believe that they are taking part in something other than the true experiment, or situations where subjects are not even aware that an experiment is being conducted. These illusions of reality are created by using various forms of deception, such as providing false information to people about how they perform on tests or by using actors who play roles. The research described in Illusions of Reality includes significant and controversial experiments in the history of psychology that sometimes took on the characteristics of dramatic stage productions. The ethical issues raised by this research are discussed, and the practice of using deception in research is placed in the context of American cultural values.
James H. Korn is Professor in the Department of Psychology, Saint Louis University, and Fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the American Psychological Society.
"This book provides an interesting slice of the history of psychology that is usually ignored or simply an aside in other books of the history of psychology. " — Neil E. Grunberg, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences