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.

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