In , sociologist and ordained Episcopalian minister Laud Humphreys published his book The Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public. Ethics Controversies: Case Studies – Debates about the ethics of the Tearoom Trade Study Methodology. In the ‘s PhD student in sociology Laud. Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places. 2. \; f! ri. ‘; i’. ~j. ~. ” I. I.j. Ij. ‘e.:~ f :’ t. lAUD HUMPHREYS. ‘”,. “,. At shortly after five o’clock on a weekday.

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He was a charter member of the International Academy of Sex Research. A year later and carefully disguised, Humphreys appeared at their homes claiming to be a health-service interviewer and interviewed them about their marital status, race, job, and so on.

Research ethics materials wimba 2.doc

It is universally acknowledged in scientific communities that openly observing an interaction between two subjects can change the outcome of their interaction. Protecting identities of participants Case Study Protecting identities of participants: Those who were willing to talk openly with him tended to be among the better-educated members of the “tearoom trade.

Retrieved June 20, The Best and Worst of Sociology. The insertor presented his penis for fellatio.

Yet, despite the benefits of this research, The Tearoom Trade raises ethical questions about sociology research: Humphreys also concluded that such encounters were harmless, and posed no danger of harassment to straight men.

Both of these versions trrade published in True, today one could not do such research because there was no ‘informed consent’ but then again, in many cases, when doing research on deviant behavior, one will never get ‘informed consent’ so we miss out on a lot of important findings.

Around the time Humphreys conducted his study, many superhighways were being constructed, and the rest stops along these roads provided ideal tearoom facilities due to their numerous locations and ease of accessibility.

Laud Humphreys and the Tearoom Sex Study

Towards the end of his life, Humphreys worked as a consultant for police forces and offered his expertise in ,aud subcultures and homophobic violence during testimonies in court cases. The dissertation proposal was reviewed only by Humphreys’ Ph. Only after the research had been completed did the other members of the Sociology Department learn of it.


He stationed himself in “tearooms” and offered to serve as “watchqueen” – the individual who keeps watch and coughs when a police car stops nearby or a stranger approaches. However, there were about a dozen subjects to whom Humphreys revealed his true identity in order to gain assistance hjmphreys conducting the study, learning the rules, and locating tearooms.

Laud Humphreys died in from lung cancer.

Another 24 percent were single and were covert homosexuals. Laud Humphreys, a sociologist, recognized that the public and the law-enforcement authorities hold highly simplistic stereotyped beliefs about men who commit impersonal sexual acts with one another in public restrooms.

The act of oral sexor fellatiowas often free as typically all members involved in a tearoom trade achieved sexual release from the experience. Does the value of gaining information about sexual practices justify the violation of people’s privacy?

Impersonal Sex in Public Placesone of the most famous and controversial studies in sexology. Loneliness emerged as a prominent characteristic in many of the subjects he surveyed. Specifically, they put on a “breastplate of righteousness” social and political conservatism in an effort to conceal their sexual behavior and prevent being exposed as deviants.

Following the release of his study, police arrests of homosexuals and raids on tearooms actually decreased in frequency, exemplifying how the understanding of human nature benefits everyone. Though The Tearoom Trade made important contributions to sex research, Humphreys’ research methods violated modern contemporary ethical standards and raised serious questions about the morality of scientific observation.

He changed his hair, clothes, and vehicle to protect his identity in case any subject recognized him from the times he played the role of watchqueen for them.

In the event that law enforcement saw fit to arrest Humphreys for conducting this controversial study, the sensitive data he meticulously collected would be demanded by the authorities. Humphreys revealed his role to some of those he observed, but he noted that those who tended to talk with him openly were better educated; as he continued his research, he decided to conceal his identity in order to avoid response bias.


The advantages that made tearooms appealing to the men who participated were the inexpensive and liberating nature of the interaction, the impersonal sexual gratification that accompanied the activity, and the speed and efficiency that allowed participants to quickly enter and exit the tearooms.

The special issue contained ten articles analyzing his research and his multiple contributions as a social activist and scholar. Trace states that an estimatedcopies of Tearoom had been sold bywhich makes it one of the best selling books ever written by a sociologist.

Police officers were aware of several tearoom locations. He preached a message of acceptance and tolerance to any who would listen, and embodied these principles by humphryes mostly to the LGBTQ community. Portraying himself as a social health researcher he interviewed them under false pretences to gain information on their marital status, sexuality and sexual orientations and occupations. Was this article helpful to rrade Merely engaging in sexual acts with the same gender could merit an arrest, and this risk increased significantly if the acts were conducted in a public facility.

He is often studied in research methods classes for the ethical questions that his works raised. During this time, sodomy accounted for the majority of homosexual arrests. The Author Laud Humphreys entered the field of sociology after serving for ten years as a clergyman in the Episcopal Church. The men involved did not know he was a researcher.

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