Ethical Implications of Investigating Internet Relationships

Ethical Implications of Investigating Internet Relationships

Monica T. Whitty (Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-553-5.ch196
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The focus on Internet relationships has escalated in recent times, with researchers investigating such areas as the development of online relationships (e.g., McCown, Fischer, Page & Homant, 2001; Parks & Roberts, 1998; Whitty & Gavin, 2001), the formation of friends online (Parks & Floyd, 1996), representation (Bargh, McKenna & Fitzsimons, 2002), and misrepresentation (Whitty, 2002) of self online. Researchers have also attempted to identify those addicted to accessing online sexual material (Cooper, Putnam, Planchon & Boies, 1999). Moreover, others have been interested in Internet infidelity (Whitty, 2003a) and cybersex addiction (Griffiths, 2001; Young, Griffin-Shelley, Cooper, O’Mara & Buchanan, 2000). Notwithstanding this continued growth of research in this field, researchers have neglected to consider the more ethical ways in conducting this type of research.

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