Remember the psychological study conducted in a men’s toilet? In the 1970s men were videotaped as they urinated – without their knowing it. Think this sounds weird? Unethical? What exactly were they looking to find out? We revisit this study and take a close look at what the critics say and what the authors themselves have to say in response. A fascinating look at the ethics, informed consent and research in psychology.
Resources for this Episode
- Personal Space Invasions – this is episode 16 in which I first discussed this strange but memorable study.
- The article discussed in this episode is Middlemist, R. D., Knowles, E. S. & Matter, C.F. (1976). Personal Space Invasions in the Lavatory: Suggestive Evidence for Arousal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33 (5), 541-546.
- The popular press article which criticized the study (in an off-handed way) is called "Bathroom Behaviors" and it appeared in the APA Monitor on November of 1977, 8 (11), 21.
- The critique by Koocher: Koocher, G.P. (1977). Bathroom Behavior and Human Dignity (1977). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35 (2), 120-121.
- The reply by Middlemist, et al.: Middlemist, R., Knowles, E.S., & Matter, C.F. (1977). What to Do and What to Report: A Reply to Koocher. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35 (2), 122-124.
- Many thanks to Dr. Blaine Peden of the University of Wisconson-Eau Claire for all his help in putting this episode together.
- Thanks also to Steven Soifer, founder of the Shy Bladder Center, for agreeing to be interviewed for this episode.
- This episode from NPR is a video on personal space in Second Life: “Avatar gender and personal space invasion anxiety level in desktop collaborative virtual environments.”
- The Shy Bladder Center website
- The International Paruresis Association website