Saturday, June 9, 2012

experimental subjects

I made a little extra money participating in psychological experiments when I was a student. But I was puzzled how the researchers could deduce so much about human nature from their select samples of undergraduate students. I know I messed up someone's research project when I was asked to identify sounds by calling one "a Polish L" [written thusly Ł and pronounced something like a W].

Anyway, I now see in the Economist that scientists are finding nonconfirming results when they run classic experiments with non-western, non-rich and well-educated people.  One way of finding such populations for their experiments, however, is a crowdsourcing site on the Internet. I guess they can get people with some important differences from US undergraduates, but it's far from a random population sample.

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