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Although a growing body of research has examined various types of coercive practices that may occur among psychiatric patients over the years, almost no attention has been given to coercive influences that may occur specifically in the context of recruitment into research projects. Particularly for those who are institutionalized (e.g., in-patient insanity acquittees), there are significant concerns that their autonomous decision-making to consent or not may be significantly impaired due to the highly restrictive and controlled environment in which they live. This exploratory study sought to examine patients’ perceptions of coercive influences by presenting them with hypothetical research vignettes regarding possible recruitment into either a biomedical or social-behavioral research project. Among 148 multi-ethnic male and female participants across two facilities, participants reported relatively minimal perceptions that their autonomous decision-making would be impacted or that various potentially coercive factors (e.g., pressures from staff) would impair their free choice to participate (or not) in such research. To the extent that such perceptions of coercion did occur, they were moderately associated with patients’ more general personality traits and attitudinal variables, such as alienation and external locus of control. Limitations of this study and their implications for future research are discussed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.