I recently participated in a research study involving DNA and genetics in order to see the effects of genetic variants on behaviour and brain activity.
Despite the fact that I was aware the researcher paid participants to be a part of their study that was not the initial reason why I decided to volunteer. I’ve always been interested in the relationship between genetics and behaviour and I wanted to be a part of the study in order to gain more knowledge of what the researcher was trying to find out, and how the results from the study could be used to gain information about how somebody behaves based on their performance in certain tasks.
After participating in the study I had the opportunity to ask the researcher further questions. I was curious as to how many participants had taken part so far and the amount of data they required before the analysis could take place. I found out that I was participant number 320, despite the fact that plenty more people had responded to the advertisement of the study, not all of them met the criteria of the study and so had failed to become a participant. Even though the criteria of the study were clearly stated on the advertisement, many people that did not meet the criteria attempted to participate regardless. What I found interesting though was the fact that the researcher still paid them as advertised despite not participating at all, in order to reimburse them for their time. Similarly participants have a right to withdraw from a study at any time without needing to provide a reason, if so, the participant would still receive the full amount of money despite not contributing to the data. However, is it fair that they are still rewarded for not contributing to the research findings?
From this, I decided in this week’s blog, to see whether people believe the drive to participation is significant? Would a participant behave differently throughout a study if all they are interested in is the money at the end of it?
I believe there would be a difference of performance if you compared results from people who had an interest in the area to people who are uninterested in the study, but very interested in the money. If people are only seeking the rewards (money) and do not care for the study itself, does this then become similar to operant conditioning, were performance is based on reward? One way to overcome this is for a study not to advertise a reward (and give the participant money after the study has taken place).
I think it would be very interesting to compare the response rate of a psychological study advertising for participants which did not state a reward (where willing participants would have a genuine interest in the subject) to the response rate of the same study advertising for participants and stating a reward (money, for example). Response rates could then be compared and then following on from that, a comparison of the results could take place. We would then be able to see whether the drive to participation is significant and whether the participants behave differently throughout a study if they do not believe they are being rewarded for their time and efforts, or vice versa.
Thank you for reading, feel free to comment!