I’ve been to a number of market research conferences where the following argument has been raised in defense of methodologies that some people deem questionable:
It’s not illegal so we can do it.
It’s made me stop and re-evaluate how I run my life. That whole “Do unto others” thing is far too complicated and theoretical and the books that promote it are thousands of years old and not relevant to me. Besides, it’s greatly to my advantage to base my choices purely on legalities. So here is how I’m going to better my life.
- I’m going to save at least $100 every year by keeping any wallets or phones that I find. (Shout, I could have had a new Android phone last week!)
- I’m going to get at least 3 free pairs of gloves and 1 free umbrella every year by not telling departing transit passengers that they’ve dropped something.
- Conferences presentations will be a lot funnier because I won’t tell people who are about to present that their zipper is undone.
- I will save at least 90 minutes every year by no longer holding doors open for people, trying to re-unite lost children with their moms, and offering to taking photos for visiting travelers.
- I will make more money by disregarding personal preferences for privacy, anonymity, and respect.
- I will gain more self-respect by doing what’s right for me personally instead of wondering how my perfectly legal actions affect the people around me.
It’s all perfectly legal my dear friends so let’s start with item #1.
- Quick Poll: Have you read the Terms of Service for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn?
- Social Media Data is like a Box of Timbits
- Qualitative Market Research is Bunk
- Neal and Toplansky: Thought Leaders Debate
I’ve been in many different situations recently wherein market research ethics became the topic of discussion. In my efforts to convince people that there are alternative behaviours which might be better, I heard many arguments trying to convince me otherwise. As you consider the excuses, think about these two questions.
Does this response make our Market Research industry look good?
Will this response have legislators saying, “you can excuse market researchers from this legislation because they are doing a great job self-governing.”
What I’m doing is fine because:
1. Hardly anyone was hurt
2. No one was hurt
3. Other people are doing it too
4. The other party involved has ulterior motives
5. It’s not illegal
6. The person I did it to won’t find out
7. No one complained about it
8. They can leave if they don’t like it
9. Everyone knows this is what’s happening
Have I missed any of the important responses? I need to know so that I’ll have them ready when I need a lame excuse.