We face more moral “dilemmas” in everyday life than maybe we don’t realize. How do we resolve them? In this episode I discuss two interesting moral dilemmas: a) should you employ for-hire crowds of actors to attend your event in order to make it look like you’re more popular than you really are? and b) should you place your advertisements on web and print pages in such a way that they don’t really look like ads at all? I discuss the moral questions involved in “native advertising“. You’ll find some unique examples of Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.
Episode 69: Personal Space Invasions – Ethical Implications of one of Psychology’s Strangest Studies
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