Title

The Influence of Disclosure and Ethics Education On Perceptions of Financial Conflicts of Interest

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-10-2014

School

Psychology

Abstract

This study explored how disclosure of financial conflicts of interest (FCOI) influences naïve or “lay” individuals’ perceptions of the ethicality of researcher conduct. On a between-subjects basis, participants read ten scenarios in which researchers disclosed or failed to disclose relevant financial conflicts of interest. Participants evaluated the extent to which each vignette represented a FCOI, its possible influence on researcher objectivity, and the ethics of the financial relationship. Participants were then asked if they had completed a college-level ethics course. Results indicated that FCOI disclosure significantly influenced participants’ perceptions of the ethicality of the situation, but only marginally affected perceptions of researcher objectivity and had no significant influence on perceptions of the existence of FCOIs. Participants who had previously completed a college-level ethics course appeared more sensitive to the importance of FCOI disclosure than those who lacked such background. This result suggests that formal ethical training may help individuals become more critical consumers of scientific research.

Publication Title

Science and Engineering Ethics

Volume

21

First Page

875

Last Page

894

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