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Debriefing is conducted with the participants after the study has taken place. Firstly, it aims to ensure that none of the participants have been harmed in any way by the study.
Secondly, it aims to make sure that the researchers have informed consent.
There are a number of times when debriefing the participants of a study is not possible.
To give an example, Piliavin et al., which was a field experiment.
The participants of that study could not be debriefed because they did not know that they were taking part and it would have been nearly impossible to complete.
Some studies require that the participants are deceived in some way.
However, that being said, researchers can do their upmost to prevent any undue stress for their participants.
Giving participants the right to withdraw does not just informing them that they can leave the study , but also informing them that they have the right to withdraw their results from the study at any time.
Finally, it allows the participants to ask any questions about the study to make sure they fully understand the content of it.
Take for example a study in which a person has to take an IQ test, that returns the result that they have below average intelligence.
This could be embarrassing for the participants and may lead them to want to withdraw. Ensuring that your results are anonymous and also confidential follows the ethical code put forth by the British Psychological Society.
The majority of the time this is to prevent demand characteristics, which can confound upon the results and conclusions of the study.
Deception however, is against the ethical standards set by the British Psychological Association.