Benefits and drawbacks of Forms and Web Experiments

Questionnaires and web experiments are study methods involving the internet as a means to collect data and are therefore often used in place of traditional lab-based experimental designs. They’ve been around since the days of the net (World Wide Web, short: web) and were able to develop rapidly mainly because the Internet improved and became extensively available (Skitka & Sargis, 2006).

Internet questionnaires and web tests are useful designed for collecting huge participant crowds of people at decreased administrative costs than can be possible in a lab. On the other hand, these advantages are often counterbalanced by challenges that can come up when using the net as an experiment site. Birnbaum (2004) highlights some popular pitfalls, which include incorrect coding and incorrect data collection due to the approach HTML forms work (e. g., determining the same variable brand to form components, for example , to a questionnaire item asking about sex and one requesting sex frequency).

Other complications can also occur, just like drop out and differences in inspiration between participants. The latter can be particularly problematic because, while pointed out simply by Reips (1999, 2002b), it may be possible to interpret between-condition effects although the same individuals were exposed to diverse stimuli inside the same research.

Fortunately, a large number of techniques and detailed solutions are available to avoid these potential problems and in some cases to turn all of them in advantageous options that come with web experimentation. The software tool OpenSesame, for example, makes it easy to construct and operate complex behavioral experiments on-line without the need for customized programming abilities.

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