A Historical Interpretation of Deceptive Experiments in American Psychology

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal / Book Title

History of the Human Sciences


In debate over the ethics of deceptive experiments in American psychology, commentators often provide an inaccurate history of these experiments. This happens especially where writers portray experimental deception as a necessary accompaniment to human experiments, rather than a conscious choice based on values attached to persons and scientific inquiry. Compounding the error, commentators typically give a misleading portrayal of psychologists' attitudes and procedures. Commentators frequently cite Stanley Milgram's work in the 1960s as a harbinger of changed attitudes towards deception, and suggest that today's psychologists abide by more enlightened ethical practices. It is difficult to find evidence to support this portrayal.



Published Citation

Herrera, C. D. (1997). A historical interpretation of deceptive experiments in American psychology. History of the Human Sciences, 10(1), 23-36.