Volunteer Science: An Online Laboratory for Experiments in Social Psychology

J. Radford, A. Pilny, A. Reichelmann, B. Keegan, B. F. Welles, J. Hoye, K. Ognyanova, W. Meleis, D. Lazer


Experimental research in traditional laboratories comes at a significant logistic and financial cost while drawing data from demographically narrow populations. The growth of online methods of research has resulted in effective means for social psychologists to collect large-scale survey-based data in a cost-effective and timely manner. However, the same advancement has not occurred for social psychologists who rely on experimentation as their primary method of data collection. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of one online laboratory for conducting experiments, Volunteer Science, and report the results of six studies that test canonical behaviors commonly captured in social psychological experiments. Our results show that the online laboratory is capable of performing a variety of studies with large numbers of diverse volunteers. We advocate for the use of the online laboratory as a valid and cost-effective way to perform social psychological experiments with large numbers of diverse subjects.

Related publications