[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Online listening tests and psychoacoutics experiments with large N

Some comments on earlier postings on the topic of online listening experiments:

Online listening experiments are indeed not novel. However, it only recently became possible to be relatively sure about good quality stimuli presentation at the users end (i.e., high-quality sound, reliable timing, and reasonable download times, e.g., using formats like mpeg4). So nothing really new, besides that it is only recently that these type of online listening experiments can run on most computers (thanks to several internet standards).

Nevertheless, the real challenge in these type of listening experiments is how to control for attention. And interestingly, this is not different from experiments performed in the lab. In an online experiment as well, one needs to make sure people are paying attention and actually doing what you instructed them to do (such as a request to use a headphone).
Our solution (for the moment) is —next to the standard tricks — to make these online listening experiments as engaging as possible! For instance, by using screen-casts [1] i.o. having to read instructions from the screen (or from paper in the lab), designing a doable short experiment (15 min max.) that is challenging and/or fun to do, etc. All such that we can assume serious and really interested listeners. In addition, and like suggested in an earlier posting, listeners might actually behave more natural and/or less ‘stressed’ in doing some of these experiments at home.
I am confident that online listening studies will become more and more a reliable source for empirical research. Next to becoming a serious alternative to some types of lab-based experiments, it might even avoid some the traps of lab based studies such as the typical psychology-students-pool biased results (see [2] for an argument in the visual domain, but also [3] arguing strongly against web-based experiments; Actually, [4] was refused on that basis by that journal :-).

In short, there are still plenty of weaknesses is using this type of online data collection. However, I believe that they generally do not generate more problems than in an ‘ordinary’ lab situation.

Henkjan Honing

[1] www.musiccognition.nl/e4/
[2] McGraw, K.O., et al. (2000). The Integrity of Web-Delivered Experiments: Can You Trust the Data? Psychological Science, 11(6), 502-506
[3] Mehler, J. (1999) Editorial. Cognition 71 (1999) 187 – 189.
[4] http://www.hum.uva.nl/mmm/abstracts/honing-2005d.html