Q&A: Jamie Moss, Behavioural Research Lab (LSE)

Andrew Ivchenko

We talk about running behavioural experiments in the Behavioural Research Lab at LSE, one of the most recognized behavioral research labs in the world

Normally, running behavioral research goes hand-to-hand with running lab experiments whether it is just a pilot study or a full-scale experiment. One of the highly recognized places for running lab experiments is Behavioural Research Lab (BRL) at the London School of Economics & Political Science. Even if you are outside of academia, it is simply impossible to miss it whenever one searches any of the search engines for the list of behavioural labs. I can proudly say that it is an honor for our team at the Expilab Research to be included into BRL (LSE) preferred partners list and provide support with programming and design of the behavioural studies.

While BRL was enjoying quietness of the summer time, I have managed not only to get a sneak-peak of the latest upgrades to BRL facilities (really cool upgrades I must say) but also to ask few questions to Jamie Moss, Behavioural Research Lab Manager about the specifics (hidden sides) of running laboratory experiments at LSE. Not only we talk about key things not to forget, but we also tried to understand the kind of feedback that participants share after completing experiments.

Q: How long have you been with BRL? What were the most comic situations you have encountered while running lab experiments?
A: I’ve been at the BRL for around three and a half years, on and off. I’m not sure we’ve had many comic situations but the strangest thing was when the BBC came in to record a documentary on behavioural science, turned off all the lights, replaced them with a handful of lamps and made us operate in the dark for the rest of the day to make the scenes more dramatic!

Q: Now, lets get a bit more serious. There are quite a few labs in London and its vicinity, but what are the strongest sides of BRL compared to others? Do you have any collaboration efforts?

A: Our biggest strengths are our flexibility and our location. We’re open to all researchers across the LSE and can accommodate a wide range of experimental research from experimental economics to decision sciences to social psychology. We’re also based right on the middle of one of the busiest parts of London which is great for recruiting participants as we have our own students and staff, students from other London universities as well as people working in companies nearby who take part in our lab studies. There’s often collaboration between researchers, but we haven’t done anything between labs.

Q: Obviously, in order to run a laboratory experiments there are quite a few things to think ahead. While BRL’s FAQ quite thoroughly goes through each point, what are the key points that slips from the memory of research fellows who intend to run a lab study?

A: You can never be too organised when it comes to planning. Obtaining cash can sometimes be time-consuming and researchers don’t always allow as much time as they should. They also often don’t realise how busy they will be when running of the experiment, and we usually recommend recruiting one of our willing research assistants to make things a little easier.

Q: While it is clear what happens before and during (hopefully!) experiment, I am curious about reactions of the participants to the experiments they just completed. What kind of reactions you typically observe after participants complete, perhaps, longer studies? Any common complains?

A: Most of our studies are only 30 minutes or an hour long, so these are no longer (and arguably more interesting) than the lectures many of our participants will sit in. Most are just satisfied with earning some extra money and having taken part in a (usually) fun task, but a surprising amount will be interested in the research itself and will contact the researcher to ask them more about the objective of the study.

Q: I know that participation slots fill in quite fast. Are there any patterns of preferences for the type of experiments offered for participation (attitudes after completing studies)?

A: Not really! As long as the a study pays a fair amount of money and there aren’t many restrictions on who can take part, most of our studies will fill up very quickly. Some people like the interactivity of the psychology experiments whilst others would prefer to only interact with computers!

Q: When are the best and the worst time periods for running laboratory experiments? Perhaps, not many participants are willing to take part in the studies in August or early January? Are tips for planning timing of the lab studies?

A: We’re open all year round except the Easter and Christmas holidays, but there are a few times during the year when it’s more difficult to recruit large numbers. Early January as many students are still away for the holidays, late May/early June when students are kept busy with exam season, and August when the campus is very quiet indeed. Fortunately these are often the same periods that faculty members are away or busy, so there is less demand on the lab to run studies during these periods.

Again, I would like to personally thank Jamie (BRL) for taking time to respond to our questions that, perhaps, may help scholars or lab managers to plan laboratory experiments better.

2017 UPDATE: Jamie Moss is no longer associated with Behavioural Research Lab at LSE. The latest BRL contacts may be found here: https://www.lse.ac.uk/management/research/brl/find-us

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