An Online Child Lab to resolve the problem of selective high-SES samples in child studies
Most studies in psychological research are done in western cultures with people who are comparably rich and science oriented. Since one cannot assume that effects found in such groups of people also exist in other groups or cultures, such studies hardly allow for conclusions about how humans generally behave, think, or develop. Therefore, an important challenge is to reach more people from different cultures and more diverse people within these cultures (not primarily rich and science-related people) to take part in studies. One way to reach more diverse people is to reduce the effort that is needed to take part in studies. Studies on child development, for example, are mostly conducted in cities with a university and families interested in participating in our research need to make the effort of bringing their children to the test locations at university.
In order to reduce this effort, we created a platform for online testing that allows families to participate in scientific studies from the comfort of their homes. The software allows for easy and intuitive programming of studies. Families open a link in the browser of their computer, are provided with information about the study and fill in forms with personal details. Then, their local webcam is activated and calibrated to record the sessions with sound and video. Parents provide oral consent for their child’s participation on video and children participate in the study while seated comfortably on their parent’s lap. During the studies children see pictures and sound and video content and are recorded via webcam. They are also provided the opportunity to answer questions verbally and via gestures, while their eye movements are recorded for further analysis.
With this online testing software, we hope to be able to test more diverse samples in our future studies. Since the platform can easily run studies in multiple languages, we can conduct the same studies in different languages and cultures.