Mass Online Experiments

The ODISSEI Roadmap project, which consists of four integrated work streams (Data Facility, Observatory, Laboratory and Hub), is reaching the phase where tasks are being finalized. Within the Laboratory work stream, task 3.4: Mass Online Experiments is now closed succesfully. To learn more about this task and its significance, you can read the task summary below or click button below to access the full end report on our ODISSEI Zenodo community page.


Task Summary

A key challenge in social science is understanding how macro-level social phenomena – e.g., social inequality, network structure, or polarization – emerge as consequences of the actions of many interacting individuals. Yet, typical empirical strategies available to social scientists often fall short of meeting this challenge. On the one hand, survey data provide rich information about the attributes and opinions of individuals, but little about their interactions. Controlled laboratory experiments, on the other hand, allow for studying causal mechanisms of social interaction in detail, but lack the scale to represent the fundamental complexity of social life. Mass online experiments – in which more than 100 people interact via online interfaces – offer a solution as they allow for studying both micro level behavior and the emergence of social phenomena at scale under controlled conditions. However, such experiments require specific skills and tools that are in short supply in the social sciences and
humanities, leading to high fixed costs as a barrier to ground-breaking research. The project addresses these issues by establishing a proof of concept for Mass Online Experiments and the deployment of such experiments for the general social science community in the Netherlands.

Project team Mass Online Experiments: Arnout van de Rijt (Utrecht University) and Rense Corten (Utrecht University).
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