With Apple’s launch of new health tracking tools for the iPhone and medical researchers’ forays into Facebook to recruit clinical trial volunteers, Web and mobile apps are increasingly seen as a new source for health data.
But psychologists are also looking to the Internet as a new source of information about the mind — and an Indiana University researcher is on the forefront of those developing the tools to make it happen.
Josh de Leeuw, a graduate student in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, is the creator of jsPsych, a free open-source software platform that employs a common Web technology to conduct psychology experiments over the Internet. The program allows psychologists without significant programming skills to deliver tasks common to research on the mind through a Web browser.
“Conducting psychology research online is appealing for a number of reasons: faster data collection, lower costs and improved anonymity of subjects and experimenters,” de Leeuw said. “Internet users are more demographically diverse than the population conventionally sampled for behavioral research in psychology — a fact that could contribute to results that better reflect the population at large.”
This means the current pool of psychology research volunteers — generally, college students — could expand since participants would no longer need to travel to a researcher’s lab to perform tasks common in psychological research. Using jsPsych, a psychologist could present anyone with Internet access with on-screen stimuli and then collect responses. Study instructions and consent forms could also be delivered electronically.
“Online experimentation is the bleeding edge of psychology research, and many believe online studies will play an important role in addressing the so-called ‘replication crisis’ in psychology,” said Ben Motz, senior lecturer and director of undergraduate instruction in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, who has collaborated with de Leeuw. “Josh’s work is at the epicenter of this — and it’s all the more impressive that he’s developed this platform as a graduate student.”
The replication crisis refers to a growing concern in experimental psychology — and the larger scientific community — about the drop in studies able to confirm previous work with experiments that achieve the same results using the same methods, as well as the increased risk of data manipulation in studies with small sample sizes.
Reducing costs and other barriers to psychological research could increase the number of replication studies, as well as the overall number of volunteers and data produced, in turn creating stronger results.
A few psychology researchers are already using online services to conduct research. One of those tools is Amazon Mechanical Turk, a service from the retail giant that enables anyone to hire online workers to perform short, simple tasks.
Others remain hesitant to employ these methods due to worries about the quality of data collected outside the highly controlled environment of a research lab. To address this concern, de Leeuw recently published a study in the journal Behavior Research Methods investigating whether one specific issue among brain researchers — the potential delays in response introduced by the use of online technology — represents a significant barrier to conducting research online.
That study looked at differences between Matlab’s Psychophysics Toolbox — one of the most popular software systems for psychological experiments — and jsPsych.
To measure the speed that information is displayed on-screen and its effect on reaction time, de Leeuw asked 30 volunteers to sit in front of a projection screen and hold a thumb-activated switch in each hand. If volunteers saw the letter “N,” they clicked a button with their dominant hand. If they did not see the letter, they clicked with their other hand. Volunteers repeated this experiment 400 times, with only a 45-second break in the middle.
To prevent weariness from affecting the results, de Leeuw set up the screen to project two images simultaneously — one generated by jsPsych, the other by the traditional system — enabling response times to both systems to be measured simultaneously.
In psychology research, response times may be used to discover which mental operations are more difficult than others, or to measure how uncertain people are about a decision. They can help distinguish between different theories of perception, memory, decision-making and social cognition. Psychologists refer to the study of the relationships between stimulus and response as “psychophysics.” Measuring response times is only one of many applications of jsPsych.
The Latest on: Internet and psychology
via Google News
The Latest on: Internet and psychology
- Go Ahead and Complain. It Might Be Good for You.on January 7, 2020 at 2:26 pm
We’ve all done it: Whether it’s about traffic, our boss or our partner’s annoying habits, complaining “is just something we do, like breathing — though hopefully not as often,” said Robin Kowalski, a ...
- A NYC startup and Pitt extend an experiment to cut intro course priceson January 7, 2020 at 7:07 am
College isn't cheap. But the founder of an online education startup in New York City asserts that he has found a way to deliver high-quality introductory courses at sharply reduced prices. The ...
- The psychology of ransomwareon January 7, 2020 at 2:01 am
This helpless feeling leads many victims to conclude that the only way to recover their files is by paying money to the anonymous criminal on the other end of the Internet. Unless the ransomware is ...
- India and Israel Should Develop Options in Tech Industryon January 5, 2020 at 11:44 am
The shift in the purpose of digital technologies- from problem solver to problem creator to problem accelerator, and its growing capability to impact overall social behavior and psychology is a matter ...
- Next-Gen Speed And The Influence On User Experienceon January 3, 2020 at 4:36 am
As a society, we have come to expect instant gratification in almost every component of our lives — so, why would we treat websites any differently? Why is there a need for things to be done at the ...
- Searching for Beneficiaries May Surprise and Shock Youon December 31, 2019 at 7:29 am
In the late 1980s, there was not yet a functioning internet, online databases, or the other sources of information used ... I would later have a conversation with their daughter, “Robin,” who was, at ...
- Is science the secret to better job seeking and hiring?on December 31, 2019 at 2:10 am
Algorithms are not only dictating what you see on social media, but also inform the types of advertisements you're served on the Internet, who you're matched with on a dating app ... "My doctorate is ...
- Marin Voice: What is the psychology behind conspiracy theories?on December 30, 2019 at 10:15 am
How do you feel when someone expresses a belief that you think is absolutely crazy? Like the idea that Barack Obama is not an American citizen or the “deep state” is out to get the president or that 9 ...
- Baba Ram Dass, spiritual guru and LSD pioneer, dies at 88on December 23, 2019 at 5:42 am
He was born Richard Alpert and came under public scrutiny as a young psychology professor at Harvard where his ... and health organizations and promote spiritualism through the Internet. * I ...
- Adolescence in the Age of Internet Pornon December 16, 2019 at 5:53 am
That was a treasure of incalculable value to a teenage boy back then. Nowadays, more porn than you can view in a thousand lifetimes is readily available thanks to the internet. And this isn’t just ...
via Bing News