The Zellner Research
Sociologist William Zellner (1978) sought to interview the family, friends. and acquaintances of persons killed in single-car crashes that he thought might have been "autocides," Zellner wondered if some automobile "accidents" were actually suicides-instances in which the individual wished to protect other people and perhaps make it easier for them to collect insurance benefit IS that might not be paid if the death was a suicide. By interviewing people who knew the victims. Zellner hoped to obtain information that would help determine if the deaths were accidental or intentional. To recruit respondents, he suggested that their reparticipation in his study might reduce the number of accidents in the future: however, he did not mention that he suspected autocide. In each interview, he asked if the deceased had recently talked about suicide or about himself or herself in a negative manner. From the data he collected, Zellner concluded that at least 12 percent of the fatal single-occupant crashes were suicides. He also learned that in a number of the crashes, other people (innocent bystanders) were killed or critically injured. Was Zellner's research unethical because he misrepresented the reasons for his study? Tnthis situation, does the right to know outweigh the right to privacy?