Bioethics Blogs

Research Participants in the Digital Age – a First Hand Perspective

Behavioral scientists utilize mobile imaging, pervasive sensing, social media, and location tracking (MISST) technologies to observe and intervene with research participants in their natural environment. With the variety of sensor-embedded wearables, collecting data about human behavior is now much easier and likely more accurate. Since pervasive sensing technologies can provide real-time data in context, researchers can customize interventions tailored to the individual; for example, study participants could receive a reminder as they pass by their gym or a local park if they haven’t yet met their physical activity goal for that day. Alternatively, they could receive encouragement to make healthy choices in the grocery store, based on GPS data streamed from their phone. However, despite the exciting potential for benefits, MISST technologies introduce new ethical challenges to consider.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.