Research Study Pool Information

The Department of Psychology believes that experiencing research from the perspective of a research participant adds greatly to a student's understanding of course material, particularly to the student's understanding of "how" psychologists study behavior. Whether psychologists address issues of attention, perception, learning, memory, thinking, social influence or bias, their insights are based largely on the results of empirical investigations, and it is important for students to appreciate the nature, strengths, and limitations of this approach. Our understanding of basic neurobiological, cognitive and social processes depends critically on studies of healthy individuals conducted by researchers working at universities.

Your participation not only furthers your education about the nature of psychological research; it also makes a substantial, critical contribution to psychological research at Princeton and to science in general.  Thus, students are to participate in four hours of experimental sessions during the semester for the first two psychology courses taken at Princeton. If students do not wish to fulfill their research requirement in this manner, there is an alternative written assignment designed to expose students to methods used in psychological science (see below). 

The majority of experiments in which students may participate take place in Peretsman Scully Hall or the Princeton Neuroscience Institute.  All experiments will have prior approval from the University Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects and from the departmental committee overseeing the research participation assignment. Participants are assigned code numbers and all results of the research are reported as group averages, so no individual is identified in any way.

Signing up for Studies

Sign up to participate in studies by using Sona Systems, the online experiment management system used by the psychology department. Email messages containing information on how to access the Sona Systems website will be sent to all students who participate in experiments. The subject line will read “Special Announcement: Psychology Subject Pool.” All experimental sessions for which students may sign-up will be posted online. Postings begin in September and will continue to be posted throughout the semester until the deadline date.

Students may sign up for a total of four hours of experimental sessions at any time during the semester of the psychology course.  However, they are encouraged not to leave their participation to the last few weeks of the semester, since there could be difficulties in finding experiments at the last minute.

  • All of the posted sessions are acceptable for any course
  • Students need not select experiments whose content overlaps with the topic of the course they are taking
  • Students must be at least 18 years of age to participate 
  • You may not participate in the same study more than once

No-Show Policy/Late Arrival

Researchers rely on participants to show up at scheduled times.  If you sign up for a study and fail to show (except in cases of verified illness or emergency), you will only be able to make up your participation assignment if the researcher is able to reschedule.  If not, you will be assigned to do the alternative written assignment for credit.  If you fail to show twice without a legitimate excuse, you will no longer be able to sign up to participate in studies.  Instead, you must complete the alternative writing assignment.

Alternative Assignment

Students who do not wish to participate in experiments will acquire insights into research methods using in psychological science by completing writing assignments from a set list of journal articles. Each writing assignment is worth .5 hrs of credit and should be completed according to the instructions.  If you plan to complete the alternative writing assignment instead of research participation, please contact RoseMarie Stevenson ( for further instructions.

Assignment Deadline

Students must complete the assigned number of sessions or the alternative written assignment by the last day of Reading Period in order to pass the course.