People are increasingly comfortable in virtual environments
For generations, social scientists have been studying people in behavioral labs at universities—labs that typically involve herding a group of people into a room for a couple of hours and asking them to perform a task of some kind. Empirica turns the lab virtual, employing software-controlled experiments with Internet participants. In addition to its flexibility and rigor, it will likely appeal to interview subjects who, in the pandemic age, have become comfortable engaging in a virtual environment.
Empirica makes it possible for researchers to create their own experimental games with minimal programming knowledge. Simple A/B tests with independent players feel intuitive and straightforward. And it’s easy to implement group experiments with real-time or asynchronous interactions in a factorial or within-subjects design as well as designs involving multiple types of units and conditional logic. Researchers deploy their experiments from a web interface and watch the progress in real time. They even have the ability to create one-way mirrors to observe the behavior of the participants in the virtual lab.
Almaatouq developed Empirica in collaboration with Nicolas Paton and some of the most storied thinkers in the digital world, including Sandy Pentland, director of MIT’s Human Dynamics Group, and Joost Bonsen of the MIT D-Lab.