Indiana University psych student reinvents surveys

Josh de Leeuw, a graduate student in the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in Bloomington, has created jsPsych, an open-source software platform that employs a common Web technology to conduct psychology experiments over the Internet.

De Leeuw expects his technology to lower costs, speed up data collection, and broaden the types of volunteers for psychology research. Most psychological studies are conducted on college students, since they are the most readily available volunteer subjects to university-based researchers.

“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,” de Leeuw said in a statement.

Using jsPsych, a psychologist could present anyone with Internet access with a series of on-screen experiments and then collect responses.

Ben Motz, senior lecturer and director of undergraduate instruction in the IU Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, who has collaborated with de Leeuw, said jsPsych could help solve the growing inability of researchers to reproduce the results of one study in subsequent studies.

“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,” Motz said.

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