ERIC Number: ED167255
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1976-Jun
Informed Consent in Research with Children: A Piagetian Approach.
Nichols, Irene A.; Shauffer, Carole B.
The ethical codes for experimentation adopted by most professional organizations include references to the requirement that subjects be given at least minimal information about their involvement in research, but are generally silent on the necessity of ascertaining whether or not subjects sufficiently comprehend the information given. For moral, legal, and pragmatic reasons the issue of comprehension is particularly important when the potential subjects are children. A survey of ethical codes reveals that most of them sidestep the issue by relying on parental consent alone. When in some instances they attempt to cope with the problem, the usual solution to determining whether or not children are able to understand enough to consent is to designate the common law "age of discretion" of seven years as the standard. This paper proposes an alternative standard, the child's cognitive competence. It specifies the cognitive abilities of children necessary to comprehend the information which codes require researchers to give subjects. Using a Piagetian schema, the paper analyzes the nature of these cognitive abilities and how they develop. Minimal procedures for insuring that informed consent has been obtained from children are outlined. (Author/RH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A