(Un)informed consent in Psychological Research: An empirical study on consent in psychological research and the GDPR


  • Dara Hallinan FIZ Karlsruhe - Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure
  • Franziska Boehm FIZ Karlsruhe - Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure
  • Annika Kulpmann Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum
  • Malte Elson Institute of Psychology, University of Bern


In many instances, psychological research requires the collection and processing of personal data collected directly from research subjects. In principle, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to psychological research which involves the collection and processing of personal data in the European Eco- nomic Area (EEA). Further, the GDPR includes provisions elaborating the types of information which should be offered to research subjects when personal data are collected directly from them. Given the general norm that informed consent should be obtained before psychological research involving the collection of personal data directly from research participants should go ahead, the information which should be provided to subjects according to the GDPR will usually be communicated in the context of an informed consent process. Unfortunately, there is reason to believe that the GDPR’s obligations concerning information provision to research subjects may not always be fulfilled. This paper outlines the results of an empirical investigation into the degree to which these information obligations are fulfilled in the context of psychological research consent procedures to which European data protection law applies. Significant discrepancies between the legal obligations to provide information to research subjects, and the information actually provided, are identified.