Advanced Methods for Conducting Online Behavioral Research
For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories
The Internet is revolutionizing the way psychologists conduct behavioral research. Studies conducted online are not only less error prone and labor intensive but also rapidly reach large numbers of diverse participants at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. In addition to improving the efficiency and accuracy of data collection, online studies provide automatic data storage and deliver immediate personalized feedback to research participants—a major incentive that can exponentially expand participant pools. Furthermore, behavioral researchers can also track data on online behavioral phenomena, including Instant Messaging (IM), social networking, and other social media.
This book goes beyond the basics to teach readers advanced methods for conducting behavioral research on the Internet. Short chapters offer practical advice by leading experts in key domains of Internet research. Readers are shown, step by step, how to conduct online experiments, surveys, and ability testing, use advanced graphic tools such as drag-and-drop objects, apply automatic text analysis tools, check the validity of protocols, automate the storage and analysis of data, record "field notes" on the behavior of online subjects and chatroom or blogging communities, and much more. Chapters also address critical issues such as data security, ethics, participant recruitment, and how to ensure the completion of tests or questionnaires. This volume also features a companion website with additional resources, links, scripts, and instructions to further assist readers with their online research.
This book is designed for researchers and advanced graduate students in the behavioral sciences seeking greater technical detail about emerging research methods. Readers will be well equipped to implement and integrate these exciting new methods into their own Internet-based behavioral research effectively, securely, and responsibly.
I. Getting Started
- How to Use This Book
—John A. Johnson and Samuel D. Gosling
- An Overview of Major Techniques of Web-Based Research
—Michael H. Birnbaum
II. Considerations When Designing Web Pages
- Design and Formatting in Internet-Based Research
- Using Graphics, Photographs, and Dynamic Media
—John H. Krantz and John E. Williams
- Drag & Drop: A Flexible Method for Moving Objects, Implementing Rankings, and a Wide Range of Other Applications
III. Studying Internet Behavior
- Collecting Data From Social Networking Web Sites and Blogs
- Using Automated "Field Notes" to Observe the Behavior of Online Subjects
- Automatic Text Analysis
—Matthias R. Mehl and Alastair J. Gill
IV. Transporting Traditional Methodologies to the Web
- Internet-Based Ability Testing
—Ulrich Schroeders, Oliver Wilhelm, and Stefan Schipolowski
- Web-Based Self-Report Personality Scales
—John A. Johnson
- Online Collection of Informant Reports
- Conducting Online Surveys
—Tracy L. Tuten
- Conducing True Experiments on the Web
—Ulf-Dietrich Reips and John H. Krantz
V. Cross-Cutting Issues
- Using Lotteries, Loyalty Points, and Other Incentives to Increase Participant Response and Completion
—Anja S. Göritz
- Security and Data Protection: Collection, Storage, and Feedback in Internet Research
—Olaf Thiele and Lars Kaczmirek
- Ethical Issues in Psychological Research on the Internet
—Tom Buchanan and John E. Williams
About the Editors
Samuel D. Gosling, PhD, is a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He has been using the Internet to collect data since the mid 1990s, when he created a questionnaire to collect personality ratings of pets by their owners. Since then, he has published numerous articles that make use of data collected on the Internet; these articles focus on such diverse topics as personality change over the life span, the links between music preferences and personality, geographic variation in psychological traits, and perceptions of others based on their Web sites and their online social networking profiles (e.g., Facebook). His 2004 American Psychologist article focused on evaluating the pros and cons of Internet methods.
Dr. Gosling's substantive research has focused on animal personality and on how human personality is manifested in everyday contexts like bedrooms, offices, clothing, Web pages, and music preferences. The latter topic was summarized in his book, Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You (2008).
Dr. Gosling is a recipient of an American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution.
John A. Johnson, PhD, is a professor of psychology at the Pennsylvania State University, DuBois. He also serves as the consultant for the International Personality Item Pool, a Web-based repository for psychological measures in the public domain. He entered the field of computer-assisted psychological research in 1986, when he wrote microcomputer programs for scoring and interpreting the Hogan Personality Inventory. When the World Wide Web emerged in the 1990s, he transported concepts from these programs to the Web. He has published research on assessing the validity of data collected on the Internet and on sharing data through Web-based collaboratories.