Brown University Social Science Experimental Laboratory (BUSSEL) allows researchers to run social science
experiments, supporting investigations in decision-making and human behavior.
What does BUSSEL do?
BUSSEL is equipped to run both in-person and online experiments. These may involve decision-making tasks,
surveys, games, puzzles, interviews, or group activities.
In-person experiments usually take place in our Laboratory at the 9th floor of the Science Library.
Online experiments are a recent addition, and require participants to just access our experimental software
using any browser. Depending on the type of study, you may moreover be asked to connect with our experimenters via
Zoom (or a similar software) for the duration of the study.
Do you want to take part in BUSSEL's research? Click
Joining BUSSEL is great as:
you choose the date and time that best suit you
you need no previous experience or skills, just a valid Brown ID
you get a chance to support Brown's world class research
you are compensated in cash or gift cards for your time
Below you can find all the information needed to register and be invited for future experiments. If
you want to know more about how different kinds of study work, check the tabs on the right.
How to sign up
Step 1: Read carefully our rules and policies. If you agree with them, sign-up for our subjecy pool.
This step does not commit you to participate in any particular experiment, but you will receive email invitations to upcoming
experiments when they are scheduled.
Step 2: After you sign up, you will receive a confirmation email from our system. Simply click on the
link contained in it to complete the registration. If you do not receive the email, please make sure firstname.lastname@example.org
is a safe sender in your email client and check your spam or junk folder.
Step 3: Receive email notifications about experiments or check the calendar
for new experiments. If you would like to join, follow the instructions attached to the invitation email or log in into your personal area.
Step 4: Attend the experiment and get paid!
If you are registered already, you can view the upcoming experiments in
Notice: Laboratory studies are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Laboratory studies take place in our laboratory on the 9th floor of the Science Library
On the day of the experiment, we ask you to show up 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time (see our
for delays and no-shows). We will identify you through your Brown badge and we will
indicate you which terminal to sit in. After everyone has been seated, the experiment will begin and
you will be read specific instructions about the tasks you have to complete. Please notice it is not
allowed to eat in the laboratory.
When the experiment is over, we ask you to remain seated. Lab operators will then
hand you an envelope containing your compensation for the experiment and a payment slip. Once you have
signed the payment slip and brought it back to the experimenter, you are free to go.
Online studies require you to just log on our experimental software 5-10 minutes before the
scheduled time for the experiment
(the same policies for delay and no-show are in place for online studies).
Our software can be accessed by any browser as long as you have a
stable connection. Even if there are no minimum technical requirements to participate, we strongly
recommend not to use a mobile device (phones in particular) as the website can not be optimized for
this kind of devices.
Some experiments may ask you to connect to Zoom (or a similar software) for the duration of the experiment (you will be sent
the details about the connection via email). Unless explicitly stated, you will not be recorded: video calls are just meant to conduct proper identification of participants via their Brown badge and to ensure any
technical problem or doubt is timely solved. You will be given precise instructions during the
experiment: as a general rule, try to choose a quiet place in which you have no distractions or
disturbances. If you are concerned about how the room around you would look, keep in mind you can
always set a
background in Zoom.
Please make sure your connection is stable, and your browser is up to date before
the session start.
Yes, you will be able to sign up only if you are 18 or older.
If you are interested in participating in experiments, please register to our subject pool (see more here). You will receive periodic invitations by email to sign up for new experiments posted on the
calendar. To sign up, log into your personal area, select a session, and reserve a spot on the participant list or just click the link in your
You can participate to as many experiments as you want, with one exception: as many experiments consist of several sessions,
you may not be allowed to sign up for a session if you already participated to another session of that same experiment.
Make sure to register under one email address only, so that you are not invited to sessions for which you don’t
qualify for due to past participation.
That is probably due to the fact that you participated in a previous session of the same experiment before.
There will be new experiments in the future, and you will receive an email inviting you to sign up if you are eligible
to participate. Also, make sure you sign under your actual status, e.g. Brown undergraduate: some
sessions may be open only to undergraduates.
BUSSEL is located on the 9th floor of the Sciences Library. Some experiments will take place
entirely online or at a different location; this will be clearly indicated in the invitation message you receive for it.
For every experimental session, you will receive a fixed show-up fee as well as variable compensation for participation.
If you show-up to the laboratory or log on in time (depending on whether the experiment is in-person or online), you will receive the minimum show-up payment. This will be
the case even if there are more participants than needed and you will not be allowed to participate to that specific session.
The payments for individual experiments vary and may depend on your decisions, the decisions of others, luck, and
on the length of the experiment. Average total payments typically range from $10-$25, but there can
be more variation in the earnings of given individuals (so you may receive either more or less than
Each experiment is different, as subjects typically go through several
rounds of decisions, either alone or in groups.
Experimental sessions normally last between 30 and 90 minutes.
Before you sign up, you get an announcement email with details on time, date, place, and
the expected length of each experimental session.
The data you provide when you sign up to the subject pool is used exclusively to send you invitations
to future experiments. It will never be published: the data is kept secure on our servers and can be
seen only by experimenters and lab managers.
The data collected during experiments, which may be published, is anonymous and cannot be traced back
to individual participants. To this purpose, the experimenter will assign you a random ID
(or a similar device): this is meant to prevent anyone (experimenters included) from observing
directly what you decide or how you perform during the experiment. This ID is also used to ensure
you are receiving the right amount at the end of the experiment. As soon as the experiment is over,
experimenters will erase all the IDs from the data we gathered to make sure it cannot be traced back to you in any way.
After conducting an experiment, we need some time to update the recruitment database.
If the experimenter has not filled in the participation data yet, there will be the three
question marks as your "show-up" status for the experiment. Once the data is entered, the status
will change to either "yes" or "no".
Researchers have to be sure that subjects who signed up for a session actually show up and are
on time. If you sign up and cannot make the session, please inform the researcher directly or email
email@example.com as soon as possible. Please make sure to only sign up to sessions you are confident
you can attend. BUSSEL reserves the right to block or remove subjects who repeatedly fail to show up
to sessions on time from the registration system. For more information, check our
rules and policies.
No, that is not allowed. You can however bring a bottle of water with you.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can put you in
touch with the facility managers.
Obviously! However, we ask you to let us know about it in advance: this will allow us to make
the experimental setup as accessible as possible. Unfortunately, it may not be possible to accommodate
every necessity: for example, some studies may necessarily require you to be able to hear sounds.
Many studies can accommodate only a given number of participants. We sometime recruit more participants
than necessary, to avoid cancelling a session in case someone does not show up or is late. If more people
than needed show up, some are turned away with the show up fee. In this case, you are usually given
the opportunity to sign up again for another session of the same experiment.
No, that is not possible. We identify all participants before the experiments begin,
and we cannot allow anyone who is not registered in the laboratory. If you cannot make it to the
experiment, please cancel your participation or contact us as soon as possible.
Experiments involve using a computer to play games, answer questions, or
perform different kinds of tasks. All experiments are not invasive, and they usually do not
involve any physical component.
We usually pay cash or gift cards at the end of each laboratory experiment.
Due to the pandemic, we are now introducing new ways of paying electronically. At the moment, we
can pay only through electronic gift cards (typically Amazon ones). We are working to include other payment methods in the next few months.
To avoid receiving new invitations, you can log in and click
the "Unsubscribe" button at the top right corner. This keeps your name and pertinent data in our database
for further reference (for example, in case you want to subscribe again). In case you want to remove
those data as well, please contact us at email@example.com. We will then proceed to replace your record with dummy entries (for example, your name will be replaced with "deleted_name").
No, we strongly discourage you from doing so. Your information is crucial to keep the experimental
laboratory running smoothly. If your record is found to be incorrect, we reserve the right to
exclude you from future experiments. If there is some infomation you do not feel comfortable providing,
you can contact us about it.
Your information is kept secure on our servers, and no one can access it
except for experimenters and the lab manager. Make sure to check our
rules and policies as well.
In order to guarantee all research studies proceed smoothly, both experimenters and participants
are expected to follow a set of rules and policies. In the participant section,
you will find what we expect participants to do. In the experimenter section, we will describe the standards
experimenters are required to uphold in all interactions with participants (potentially, you). The full set of policies is available here.
Please make sure to read both sections carefully.
When we open a new experiment for registration, we send out e-mail invitations to some or all the people that have
signed up for experiments.
Once you have received an invitation, if you would like to participate to that experiment, please sign up for one session
by following the instructions in your invitation email. Otherwise, just ignore the invitation. Ignoring one or more
invitation will not affect in any way the chances of being invited to participate in another experiment.
We usually run several different sessions of the same experiment,
so there are often multiple times and dates from which you can choose. Sign up for only a SINGLE session, as you can
participate in an experiment only once. By signing up for a session, you commit to participate in that specific session.
You can unsubscribe from the invitation emails at any moment without penalty. If you want to erase your pertinent
information from the database as well, you can send us an email.
We will then proceed to replace your record with dummy entries (for example, your name will be replaced with
If you decide to sign up for an experiment and you can no longer attend, please contact us as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org. We track the number of "no-shows" for
each participant and reserve the right to exclude from the subject pool those who regularly do not show up to an
experiment after they have registered for them. Letting us know you can no longer participate in advance will ensure
there are no "no-shows" on your account.
If you sign up for an experiment, please arrive at the lab or log on 5-10 minutes before the starting time of the session.
Please be aware that experimenters usually recruit more subjects than necessary, in order to make up for last-minute cancellations
from participants. After the scheduled start time, anyone who registered for an experiment (that is, was invited and confirmed
his participation in a specific session) but did not show up will not receive any compensation for it.
Strict no deception policy
BUSSEL implements strict no‐deception policy, meaning that all information you are told during experiments is truthful.
This may not be the case for experiments in other laboratories or fields of science.
Participation to BUSSEL studies is completely voluntary: by signing up for our subject pool, you just agree to receive
email invitations to our studies. Moreover, you may change your mind about participating at any point during the experiment. If you do so, however, you will not be entitled to any compensation for that experiment.
Please keep in mind that, depending on the type of experiment, this may entail that the experiment has to conclude for some or all other participants.
If you show-up to the laboratory or log on in time (depending on whether the experiment is in-person or online),
you will receive a minimum show-up payment. This will be
the case even if there are more subjects than needed and you will not be allowed to participate to that particular session.
In addition, you can earn more money depending on your decisions, the decisions of others, luck, and on the length
of the experiment. Average total payments typically range from $10-$25, but there can be more variation in the earnings of given individuals.
The normal method of payment is either cash or gift cards. You will be paid privately at the end of the experiment: no one else
will know how much you earned.
Payment method and show-up fee will be clearly indicated in the invitation emails you will receive.
Internal Review Board approval
All experiments that you will be participating in (with the exception of those run by students for class projects)
have been approved by the Institutional Review Board of Brown University (IRB). The IRB is in charge of making sure
that the experiments comply with all federal regulations, and in particular that each participant has expressed his
or her informed consent, and that the experiment does no harm. If you have any questions regarding your rights as a
research participant, you may contact the Brown University Human Research Protection Program at (401) 863-3050.
If you have any questions, please send us an email at email@example.com.