I'm conducting research where participants come into a lab and complete a study entirely on a computer (about 10-15 minutes). This means that informed consent, instructions, manipulations, and measures are all completed on the computer and there is very little experimenter-participant interaction. The studies are mostly reading some text and answering questions.

I'm aware that there are many methods of assessing whether participants are paying attention, but when I use these methods I often find a large share of participants who aren't paying attention. Instead of just having to exclude these participants, I'd like to prevent this in the first place.

What strategies do you use to make online studies more engaging and encourage participants to pay attention?

  • $\begingroup$ I am confused: are you talking about online studies, or lab studies? I don't know what online lab studies are. Lab studies typically don't suffer from lack of attention (which might need more of a definition on what you mean that could clarify that). Online studies (like using MTurk) do, e.g., since such tasks can be automated by bots. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Mar 7 '19 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ Participants are physically present in our lab room, but the entire procedure is done on a computer. Participants complete informed consent, receive instructions, read text, and answer questions entirely on the computer. We are still suffering from lack of attention even though participants are in the lab. $\endgroup$ – KTK Mar 7 '19 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ So, 'online' here refers to what exactly? The fact that the software you use to run studies runs in 'the cloud'/on a website/a web application? If so, I'm not certain this ('online') is pertinent to your question. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Mar 7 '19 at 23:26
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    $\begingroup$ I imagine "online" was intended to distinguish that there is no researcher/participant interaction. The participants come into a lab, sit at a computer, and fill out a survey. This is notably different than being asked questions by someone in the lab in the context of this question. In my experience, this is a fairly common university setup. I'm fine with the word "online" given the clarification on the comment. $\endgroup$ – Andnp Mar 7 '19 at 23:41
  • $\begingroup$ Okay. I was unaware about this definition (if it is a common definition). Thank you for clarifying. I'm just wondering why they wouldn't name it something more straightforward like 'unassisted' study then, but oh well... $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Mar 10 '19 at 1:04

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