Study Participants

Thank you for joining the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory study pool. By joining the pool, you have become part of a group of volunteers taking part in scientific investigations of human judgment and decision making. Researchers conducting experiments here at HDSL come from schools all across the university.

If you are a current participant in our pool, or are considering becoming a participant, this page will familiarize you with the basic operations of our laboratory and will answer most of the questions we have learned subjects have about their participation in our studies.

We conduct all communications with you through e-mail. You will receive notices by e-mail of studies that are available to you for participation. You must reply using the Lab's SONA study-pool management system to sign up for a slot in any study. You will automatically receive an e-mailed reminder about your participation from the system.

It is essential for the integrity of the science conducted here that you may have only one identity or entry in the HDSL SONA system. If we find you have created duplicate identities or entries, you will be immediately removed from the participant pool and not permitted to re-enter.

If you sign up for a study and find you are not able to attend, you must give us at least twenty-four hours' notice of your need to cancel. We understand that from time to time things may come up that make it impossible for you participate as scheduled. However, our researchers depend on your being here when you have signed up for a slot.

If you sign up to participate and fail to arrive, we will indicate in your participant record that you were absent; three "unexcused no-shows" will cause you to be removed from the pool.

We assure adherence to this policy by asking all participants to present a photo ID at the time of check-in. You will be asked to do this each time you arrive for a study. There are no exceptions to this policy.

There is no deception in this laboratory. You may be aware that some experimental approaches employ deception in order to understand more clearly how people respond to a specific stimulus, or how certain conditions shape our decision making. While these techniques are generally regarded by scholars and regulatory agencies as acceptable practices under certain conditions, as a matter of policy such experimental practices are prohibited in this laboratory.

All studies conducted in this laboratory have been approved by one of the three institutional review boards (IRBs) at Harvard that review all research conducted using human subjects. Specific information on which IRB has reviewed an experiment you are participating in will be made available to you on the consent form for that experiment.

From time to time, an experimenter may find it necessary to cancel an experimental session. When a session that you have signed up for is cancelled, you will receive at least twenty-four hours' notice of the cancellation using the e-mail address we have on record for you.

If we have sent a cancellation notice more than twenty-four hours before the scheduled time of the experiment, you will not qualify for any payment from the experimenter. Please check your e-mail at least once a day once you have signed up for a study - and make sure you've added harvarddecisionlab@hks.harvard.edu to your safe-senders list!

HDSL does not require experimenters working in the lab to pay you a minimum fee for your participation. Your payment will vary from researcher to researcher and from experiment to experiment. Payment details for each study will be included in the posting of the study on SONA.

You may be invited to take part in studies involving the measurement of physiological functions. These experiments typically involve the placement of electrodes on your arms, chest, back, or legs; your fingers; or your wrist. A trained laboratory technician will place the sensors on you in a private changing room and will check to make certain they have been correctly placed.

You may be asked a series of medical questions before participating, such as whether you have a pacemaker, whether you are taking any medications, or whether you are pregnant. It is important both for your safety and for the integrity of the data collected in an experiment that you answer these questions honestly.

We do have a limit on the number of times you may participate in studies in the Decision Science Laboratory. In general, this is because the basis of the science conducted here is the assumption that subjects have not previously seen the kinds of questions asked or the stimuli that may be used. To ensure the highest possible quality of data for our researchers, and the best possible experience for our subjects, we may, at our discretion, advise you that you are being removed from the study pool.

Subjects in experiments are expected at all times to follow the instructions given by the experimenters and by all lab staff. Failure to do so may result in your being immediately removed from the pool and disqualified from further participation.

If you have any questions, please feel welcome to approach any member of the lab's staff team. Thank you again for your participation in our studies!