Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lab Rats

I received a call yesterday from a grad student at the university who is doing some kind of study on children. We've participated in a bunch of language studies at the university where we go there, but for this one, she wanted to come to the house.

Since I've told the university (and told them, and told them, and told them quarterly when they call) that they're not getting any donations from us until my student loans are paid off, and since we still live in the town where we went to college, I feel like doing these studies is a good way to "give back" to the university without writing a check. The kids enjoy doing the studies, and they usually get a book or a small toy as a thank you for their participation. Occasionally we get paid. I see it as a win-win for everyone that gives us something new and fun to do, and doesn't take up much of my time.

But I just couldn't agree to this study. The home visit, frankly, freaked me out.

The researcher assured me that she'd done 50 other studies in the community. That had the opposite result, though, from what she intended. When she said that I thought, "GOOD, that means you're not having any trouble finding participants and I don't have to feel guilty about saying no!"

I don't generally have any trouble letting people in my house. I like people. I like our house. So that's not the issue. And obviously I don't have any trouble making my children into lab rats, because we've done that many times. The researcher sounded perfectly nice. I'm sure she wouldn't have found anything bad to write about us. But there was just something that felt creepy about someone we don't know coming into our home and taking notes about our behavior - notes that I wouldn't be able to read - for 45 minutes.

Is that weird? Would you allow your kids to be studied? In your home? Do you think I'm being paranoid? Do you think that having someone come observe your family in your home violates your privacy?

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)


RobMonroe said...

We participate in tons of studies at our local University. They have never once asked to come to our home. That seems weird.

I'm not sure where my comfort level would be with such a move. Hmm. I'm going with you made the right call.

Lesley said...

Hi! I've been on the other side...I've done observations for my grad school counseling program at a few houses. It wasn't a "real" study with an IRP or anything...just an observation of her sons' temperament so I could learn how to do analysis.

The good part---I was in my colleagues' home with her kids, so we were just hanging out drinking iced tea and interacting in a social environment. The reason we did it in her home was so that I could observe the most natural behavior of the kids where they are most comfortable being themselves with their own activities and surroundings.

Some of the most valuable studies children studies were conducted doing observations in the home rather than in an artificial lab setting.

That being said, I've never had researchers in my home. :>

Mrs4444 said...

Unless I knew the purpose of the study beforehand (which I suppose would skew the results), I'd probably feel uncomfortable, too.