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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One advantage of tearooms that appealed to a portion of the subjects was that it was rare for insertees to demand monetary compensation from the insertor.

He recorded the names, license plate numbers, and addresses of around men. 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.

He was a true pioneer and a hero to all of us in these fields. Intimacy in ethnographic research: On one occasion, an undercover patrolman actually revealed to Humphreys that law enforcement was upregulating activity in a certain area of a park due to an increase in African-American visitors, an event unrelated to the tearoom activities. He found that subjects were often married, identified as Roman-Catholic, and had spouses who did not take birth-contro l.

Humphreys argued his deception was justified as the acts were so stigmatised he would not have got the information otherwise. Firstly, Humphreys believed that a scientist should never neglect an area of study or phenomenon because it was difficult to investigate or inherently socially sensitive.

Research ethics materials wimba 2.doc

The special issue contained ten articles analyzing his research and his multiple contributions as a social activist and scholar. Publicly identifying oneself as a social researcher while observing the interaction between men who prize their anonymity in a tearoom would produce drastically different results than presenting oneself as a trusted watchqueen.

The Author Laud Humphreys entered the field of sociology after serving for ten years as a clergyman in the Episcopal Church. 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.

While conducting his study, Humphreys often took on the role as watchqueen in order to convince others that he meant no harm, giving him the ability to observe tearoom interactions. Laud Humphreys’ unheralded theoretical contribution to the sociology of identity.

The Tearoom Trade | SexInfo Online

Schacht notes that this fact “makes it one of the best selling books ever written by a sociologist. Humphreys noted that the first challenge to studying tearooms was locating the facilities frequented by the subjects. Humphreys decided that it would be of considerable social trave for society to gain more objective understanding of who these men are and what motivates them to seek quick, impersonal sexual gratification.


Entering and exiting a tearoom quickly and efficiently resulted in less explaining that a man needed to provide to his family in order to justify his absences. These roles included an insertor, an insertee, and a lookout referred to as a watchqueen. On risk that his notes could have been seized to identify men engaged in illegal acts said he would have risked going to jail hymphreys than hand them over.

Schacht states that an estimatedcopies of Tearoom had been sold bywhich makes it one of the best selling books ever written etaroom a sociologist.

The watchqueen would alert the other men in the tearoom if a passerby approached and would notify them when it was safe to proceed again. He played that role faithfully while observing hundreds of acts of fellatio. Of the other 62 percent of Humphreys’ subjects, 24 percent were clearly bisexual, happily married, well educated, economically quite successful, and exemplary members of their community.

He was a charter member of the International Academy of Sex Research. 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.

Typically, tearooms were located in public parks. He recorded their licence plates as they returned to their cars, and then found out humpgreys addresses. Keys, was published inunder the title Laud Humphreys: Many would count this as a social benefit. Does the value of gaining information about sexual practices justify the violation of people’s privacy?

Laud Humphreys

He was able to gain the confidence of some of the men he observed, disclose his role as scientist, and persuade them to tell him about the rest of their lives and about their motives. Prophet of Homosexuality and Sociology. 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.

It is universally acknowledged in scientific communities that openly observing an interaction between two subjects can change the outcome of their interaction. Humphreys’ findings destroy many stereotypes. Humphreys married Nancy Wallace, a woman from a prominent Tulsa family in [3].


Table of Contents Key questions Example of harm from social science research – Research merit and integrity Justice Special protections for vulnerable communities Ethics Controversies: An Exchange”, in Norman K.

The watchqueen took on a voyeuristic role, receiving pleasure and arousal from observing the sexual interaction. 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. He is often studied in research methods classes for the ethical questions that his works raised.

Most social scientists agree that observing people’s acts in public spaces is not unethical, as long as people are not identified.

Laud Humphreys and the Tearoom Sex Study

Only 14 percent of Humphreys’ subjects corresponded to society’s stereotype of homosexuality. Tracking and interviewing the subjects provided an opportunity to better understand the rationality the subjects used when engaging in tearoom acts. Humphreys wanted to understand the relationship between these men’s anonymous homosexual acts and their public lives. Pages to import images to Wikidata.

Fifty-four percent of his subjects were married and living with their wives, and superficial analysis would suggest that they were exemplary citizens who had exemplary marriages. Informal inquiry Knerr, indicated that Humphreys’ research has helped persuade police departments to stop using their resources on arrest for this victimless crime. This study focuses on these interactions through investigation of possible social, psychological, or physiological reasons for this behavior.

The turmoil resulted in numerous other unfortunate events, including a fist fight among faculty members and the exodus of about half of the department members to positions at other universities. As Humphreys investigated the phenomena, noticeable patterns emerged. 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.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Nonetheless, others have defended Tearoom Tradepointing out that participants were conducting their activities in a public place and that the deceit was harmless, since Humphreys designed the study with respect for their individual privacy, not identifying them in his published work.