Tapped out or barely tapped? Recommendations for how to harness the vast and largely unused potential of the Mechanical Turk participant pool

Autoři: Jonathan Robinson aff001;  Cheskie Rosenzweig aff002;  Aaron J. Moss aff002;  Leib Litman aff004
Působiště autorů: Department of Computer Science, Lander College, Flushing, New York, United States of America aff001;  Prime Research Solutions, Queens, New York, United States of America aff002;  Department of Clinical Psychology, Columbia University, New York, New York, United States of America aff003;  Department of Psychology, Lander College, Flushing, New York, United States of America aff004
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(12)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0226394


Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a common source of research participants within the academic community. Despite MTurk’s utility and benefits over traditional subject pools some researchers have questioned whether it is sustainable. Specifically, some have asked whether MTurk workers are too familiar with manipulations and measures common in the social sciences, the result of many researchers relying on the same small participant pool. Here, we show that concerns about non-naivete on MTurk are due less to the MTurk platform itself and more to the way researchers use the platform. Specifically, we find that there are at least 250,000 MTurk workers worldwide and that a large majority of US workers are new to the platform each year and therefore relatively inexperienced as research participants. We describe how inexperienced workers are excluded from studies, in part, because of the worker reputation qualifications researchers commonly use. Then, we propose and evaluate an alternative approach to sampling on MTurk that allows researchers to access inexperienced participants without sacrificing data quality. We recommend that in some cases researchers should limit the number of highly experienced workers allowed in their study by excluding these workers or by stratifying sample recruitment based on worker experience levels. We discuss the trade-offs of different sampling practices on MTurk and describe how the above sampling strategies can help researchers harness the vast and largely untapped potential of the Mechanical Turk participant pool.

Klíčová slova:

Attention – Personality – Personality tests – Public and occupational health – Reflection – Research validity – Social sciences – Social systems


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