Two-way mirrors, hidden observers: welcome to the Department for Work and Pensions laboratory

Politics and Insights

018I regularly write to raise concerns about the current government’s misuse of psychologyin public policies and research. There has been a shift towards the formulation of targeted, prejudiced, class contingent policies which have the central aim of “changing behaviours.” This neo-behaviourist approach has some profound implications for democracy. It constrains autonomy and curtails the basic liberties of targeted citizens.

On the government website, a contract finder notice for the “Provision of Research Laboratory Facilities” for the Department for Work and Pensions says:

“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) requires research to be undertaken, in a research laboratory environment, with recipients of the Carers Allowance and recipients of the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

In a typical lab situation DWP shall have one DWP researcher in a room with the participant and other DWP researchers (if appropriate) and invited observers behind a two way mirror…

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