How Online Labor Markets are Revolutionizing Innovation and Discovery in the Social Sciences

Posted: 25 May 2011

See all articles by David G. Rand

David G. Rand

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Date Written: May 25, 2011

Abstract

The internet provides an unprecedented opportunity for social scientists to recruit large number of subjects quickly, cheaply and virtually effortlessly. Online labor markets, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), allow researchers to easily recruit and pay subjects from around the world to participate in studies which are monetarily incentivized (ie pay depends on choices in the study, rather just a flat rate). These labor markets also facilitate field studies, where 'subjects' are unaware they are in an experiment, but instead think they are just completing normal work tasks. The speed and easy of online experimentation has the potential to increase the rate of scientific progress by orders of magnitude. In this talk I will describe how MTurk can be used to run incentivized experiments, a number of validation studies demonstrating the reliability on data collected on MTurk, and new insights into human behavior emerging from MTurk experiments.

Suggested Citation

Rand, David G., How Online Labor Markets are Revolutionizing Innovation and Discovery in the Social Sciences (May 25, 2011). Gruter Institute Squaw Valley Conference – Innovation and Economic Growth, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1851668

David G. Rand (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

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