Using the Internet for Psychology Studies

Using the Internet for Psychology Studies:

This article is great for two reasons: first, it links nicely to my previous post on the value of writing; secondly, the method used to study the research question in the psychology study was interesting – it used kids’ interactions on the internet, to learn something about their psychological well-being.

The only thing that seems strange to me is this – once the researchers figured out they wanted to study the interactions of students over the internet, why did they suffice with picking a few students from nearby schools, rather than try to pick them up from the internet itself.

Obviously there are many challenges to overcome in order to conduct a valid psychology study (having taken an introductory course in psychology in Israel’s Open University out of general interest in the field, I only began to grasp the complexity of these studies). Psychologists need to monitor so many variables in their studies, it’s probably understandable their natural instinct would be to keep the study up close and personal.

But what I still don’t see in the field of psychology, unlike many other fields, is serious considerations of the merits a web platform for psychology research. The article itself provides several reasons to at least consider it – the use of blogs and commenting, which could be easier to monitor if conducted in a controlled web environment, and the ability to reach a wider testing audience (which, as the researchers profess, was gender biassed in their study).

It’s true that using the web comes with many risks, including spamming, flaming, and trolling in comments to name just a few, but I think a good and controlled environment, with the proper incentive to participate (while still complying with requirements to avoid harming the test participants) could be amazing. Imagine a computer game designed with sensory tests that could gather data from around the world? Or how about testing cooperation under very controlled circumstances? I’ve actually read an article about Spanish researchers testing the prisoners dilema in a computer hall with 1000 students – but why not set up the same experiment with 100,000? The technology is there – all that’s missing are willing designers to plan the research!

via tumblr http://vehpus.tumblr.com/post/15312980516 at January 05, 2012 at 12:52AM. Originally posted on http://vehpus.tumblr.com

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