A Census of Subject Pool Characteristics and Policies

Joan E. Sieber, Michael J. Saks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


A census of the 366 psychology departments that have subject pools and graduate programs yielded an 89% response rate. Of the 74% that reported having a subject pool, 93% recruit from introductory courses. An experiment within the survey indicated that respondents were generally candid. Many departments were found to be not entirely in conformance with American Psychological Association (APA) ethical guidelines or federal law: For example, subject pools that offer no clear educational benefit and have only unattractive alternatives to participation are actually nonvoluntary. Some departments evinced (a) exemplary procedures for making participation an educational experience; (b) readable subject pool announcements that had clear rules, were not coercive, and were respectful in tone and content; or (c) subject pool administration that provided accurate record keeping, appropriate channels of ethical review, and responsiveness to student concerns, questions, and complaints. These procedures, which deserve emulation by other departments, are summarized, and copies of the actual departmental documents are available from the National Auxiliary Publication Service.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1053-1061
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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