Institutional Review Boards: From Bane to Benefit

Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Institutional review boards (IRBs) are primarily prevention-focused, avoiding damage to human subjects and averting ethical infractions, thereby protecting participants, researchers, and universities. Yet, the cost of prevention focus is simply avoiding negative outcomes and is enacted through control, risk-aversion, security, detail-orientation, reactivity, anxiety, avoidance, punishment, negative possibilities, and seizing on a single dominant solution. These endanger the research enterprise. An alternative promotion focus is more advantageous as it seeks positive outcomes and thus facilitating research, which is the IRB s second duty. This alternative guides recruiting and training of staff, panel, and researchers; orienting to and reinforcing promotion norms; creating well-known, transparent, responsive, and efficient processes; and understanding the IRB's boundaries. Promotion balances prevention to make IRBs support research and protect subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-31
Number of pages2
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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