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The researcher as experimental subject: using self-experimentation to access experiences, understand social phenomena, and stimulate reflexivity

Corti, Kevin, Reddy, Geetha, Choi, Ellen and Gillespie, Alex (2015) The researcher as experimental subject: using self-experimentation to access experiences, understand social phenomena, and stimulate reflexivity. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 49 (2). pp. 288-308. ISSN 1932-4502

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Abstract

The current article argues that researcher-as-subject self-experimentation can provide valuable insight and systematic knowledge to social psychologists. This approach, the modus operandi of experimental psychology when the field was in its infancy, has been largely eclipsed by an almost exclusive focus on participant-as-subject other-experimentation. Drawing from the non-experimental first-person traditions of autoethnography, participant observation, and phenomenology, we argue that participating as both observer and subject within one’s own social psychological experiment affords researchers at least three potential benefits: (1) access to “social qualia,” that is, the subjective experience of social phenomena; (2) improved mental models of social phenomena, potentially stimulating new research questions; and (3) an enhanced ability to be reflexive about the given experiment. To support our position, we provide first-person self-reflections from researchers who have self-experimented with transformed social interactions involving Milgram’s cyranoid method. We close by offering guidelines on how one might approach self-experimentation, and discuss a variety of first-person perspective ethnographic technologies that can be incorporated into the practice.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://link.springer.com/journal/12124
Additional Information: © 2015 Springer Science+Business Media New York
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Sets: Departments > Social Psychology
Departments > Psychological and Behavioural Science
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2015 10:32
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/64466/

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