How to Participate

Whitman researchers are looking for participants willing to take part in marketing, supply chain, and other business studies in the behavioral research lab.  None of our studies involve physical exertion or medical procedures.

To Register:

To participate in studies through the behavioral lab, please join our participant pool! If you have an email address you can sign up here and participate in studies more regularly than through drop-in days. Once signed up, you can see studies that are available as they are scheduled. Those listed with a “$” pay cash for participation; those with a “CC” earn SONA credits which many Whitman professors use and encourage toward homework or participation credits.

Occasionally we host “Drop-in Days” which do not require pre-registration and are open to everyone.  These are all cash studies.  See the Events page for upcoming Drop-In Days.

To Participate:

-You must be 18 years of age or order

-You may only have one account on SONA.  If you aren’t sure, try the “Lost your Password?” link on the SONA page.

-You may not participate in the same study more than once—SONA manages this.

-Some studies will be limited to or excluded from subjects in certain majors, classes,  etc. A variety of studies are posted each week and there should generally always be something for which you are eligible.


Lab Participation Expectations

  1. Show up on time for your study.  The door will close 3 minutes after the study starts with a “do not disturb” sign and you will be marked as a “no show” for that session.  This is to ensure minimum distractions for all study participants. 
  2. Turn off cell phones and other distractions, not just on vibrate.  Distractions can severely impact the results of a study.
  3. No food or drink in the lab.  Containers can be left on the front desk during the task and picked back up on your way out.
  4. If you have a question or problem with the task, raise your hand and the research assistant will help you.
  5. Read the instructions and all screens carefully.  Treat this as a significant task.  Do not just show up and click buttons to earn credit.
  6. Please do not discuss the details of the study, questions, or your answers with other people who have not done the study.  It biases the results of future participants.

Frequently Asked Questions:

If you do not see your question here, please email  In general, please do not email your faculty member with lab questions.

Where do the labs take place?

The Whitman Behavioral Lab is in room 010, diagonally across from the Lender auditorium.  It is the first door on the left after the center stairwell.

My professor told me this would count toward class, but the course isn't listed when I go to assign credits to courses.

If you joined the course after the professor sent the class roster, you may not be affiliated with the course. Email with the course number, professor, and section and we can manually add it to your account.  (e.g. SCM 265 Niederhoff Section 2).  You can re-assign existing credits to that course once it is added to your account, so you can do the study now and then assign the credit to the course later.

What types of studies are being done?

These change from week-to-week but faculty doing studies are in SCM, MAR, MGT, and we have interested faculty from EEE and FIN who may run studies, too.  Studies range from surveys to task-based activities.

Which study do I need to do to get credit in my class? For example, does it matter if it's a finance class?

In most cases it does not matter—any study (as long as it is not a drop-in day) counts toward any class. 

However, if your professor has chosen to limit the credit to a specific type of study, that will be managed within SONA with no effort by you.  The study will be set up to only be visible to students registered in your class and the description will indicate that this study is for your credit in that class.

How do I log in to SONA?

Go to SONA (  Your user ID is your email; your password was emailed to you.  If you lost the password, click the link (lower left of the main SONA screen).  If you do not have an account, you can create one; then email if you need to be affiliated with courses.

I'm logging in and not seeing any studies listed with "timeslots available".

This could be one of two main issues:

1. Schedules are not yet set: The lab typically runs Mon – Weds and sign-ups typically close 12-24 hours before a study session.  If it is Weds or Thursday afternoon, the research team is probably finalizing the schedule for the next week and will post the sign-ups for the following week by Friday afternoon.

2. You are not qualified for the current schedule of labs: The second issue is that most studies block students from participating twice and many have restrictions such as only those in certain classes, blocking those in certain classes, or blocking those that have done a very similar study already.  It may be possible that there are studies running but you do not qualify for any of them that week and so none show as available.  We try to run a mix of studies across time slots and days to avoid this, but it can happen. 

If you aren’t sure, email

What happens if a student is in multiple classes with lab requirements?

The student’s account will be associated with all classes that have submitted class lists which include his or her email ID.  When they sign up for a study they can select which class to assign that credit toward.  (If the course does not show up on your list, email with the course name and section)

Thus if one class requires lab completion by mid-semester and other by the end of the semester, they can opt to apply credits accordingly.  Or if they only plan to do one study they can apply it to the course they most need the credit in. 

Professors will get completion reports which will show the total number of credits earned and total required (across all courses this semester) as well as the number applied to each course.

How long does a lab usually last (time commitment)?

Most of our labs take 25-30 minutes and count as one participation credit.  Generally if a lab will take more than that time, it will count as more credits.  So participating in a 90 minute lab (if there were one) could earn 3 credits.  The length of time the study takes is noted on each sign-up screen.

Can students earn money, too?

Some studies involve making financially-based decisions (setting prices, making investments, etc.) and thus students are paid based on their earned rewards in the experiment to align incentives.  Total payment is generally around $5/study.  Many studies have no financial incentives or participation payments.  These details are included in the study description information when subjects sign-up.

What are "Drop-in Days"?

At three points in the semester, we host Drop-in Days (usually 12-5 on a Thurs/Fri).  These are like an open-house and students are welcome to stop by at any point in the posted hours to complete a 30-minute study and earn $5.  These do not count toward class requirements.