Because of the inaccurate information and harmful stereotypes that are widely circulated throughout society, many researchers have internalized these stereotypes and are distrustful of MAP communities. When studying MAPs, rather than adopting the traditional research rationale of understanding their subjects’ perspectives and behavior or promoting their mental health, researchers have often focused on correcting or controlling their presumed incorrect thoughts or harmful behaviors. Even when focusing on knowledge creation or therapeutic goals, research has often seemed to do so only for the purpose of protecting “normal people” from MAPs, as if an understanding of MAPs or their mental well-being does not have inherent value as it does for other people.
Because of negative ways that researchers have sometimes portrayed MAPs and/or focused on social-control rather than mental health goals, many MAPs are distrustful of researchers and feel stigmatized by them. MAPs often fear that researchers see them as of lesser value than other people. The mutual fear and distrust between MAPs and researchers is counterproductive to collecting and disseminating accurate information to mental health practitioners and the public.
To help overcome this mutual distrust, B4U-ACT is committed to working together with researchers and with MAP communities to promote the collection of data from community samples of MAPs, for the purpose of understanding MAPs and promoting their well-being as goals in their own right. Our work with researchers can take a number of forms including inviting them to our workshops, giving feedback on surveys, contributing research ideas, and helping them to recruit research participants.
Before entering into a collaborative agreement with B4U-ACT, we ask researchers to provide a detailed rationale for their proposed study, with citations and bibliography. Researchers for whom B4U-ACT helps recruit participants shall treat MAPs with the same respect and dignity they would ascribe to any other group of people, and they must act in accordance with the same ethical principles researchers are expected to follow when studying any other group of people. The following principles are required of all researchers for whom B4U-ACT helps recruit participants. Therefore, when people see B4U-ACT posting calls for participants, they can be assured that, to the best of our knowledge, the following are true:
- The researchers’ priority is to develop an understanding of MAPs and/or to promote their mental health primarily for its own sake, not mainly for the presumed protection of other people from them.
- The researchers treat MAPs with respect and abide by standard ethical research principles.
- The researchers demonstrate a willingness to talk with and develop collaborative relationships with MAPs by working together with B4U-ACT throughout their research process and often by attending our workshops.
- The researchers will not ask participants about unadjudicated illegal activities.
By helping a researcher to recruit participants, we are not endorsing all assumptions involved in their research. There are a number of controversial issues in this area on which researchers and MAPs alike disagree amongst themselves and on which B4U-ACT takes no position. (For more information, see B4U-ACT’s Statement on Issues of Agreement.) By helping to recruit participants on a researcher’s behalf, B4U-ACT is communicating that, to the best of our knowledge, researchers are following the four guidelines above.
Statement adopted January 25, 2013
Revised November 12, 2016