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Do you want to contribute to science, but don’t have time to join a research lab? Interested in understanding the intricacies of behavioral studies from a new point of view? Or would you simply like to make some extra money in your free time, without a long-term commitment?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you might want to consider participating in studies at Columbia Business School’s Behavioral Research Lab!

What is the Behavioral Research Lab, and why is it paying me?

Basically, the Behavioral Research Lab is a laboratory in the Business School that focuses on studying human behavior through scholarly research. The data collected is used by a great number of researchers affiliated with Columbia. Accordingly, researchers need human subjects (e.g. students) to study to gain a better understanding of human behavior, so they are willing to compensate you for your cooperation.

Can I participate in these studies?

If you’re 18 or older and have a “.edu” email address, you’re eligible to sign up! Share this information with your friends at other institutions too, since this means that any student that has these qualifications (including alumni) are welcome to participate (they’ll thank you later).

How can I sign up?

It’s easy! Register for a SONA account here with your “.edu” email address. There will be an online pre-screening survey asking for some basic information once you log in. Note that if you choose not to answer some of the survey questions, you might not be notified of as many research studies that you could participate in (since some studies specifically require the information that the survey solicits).

You’ll use SONA to register for any studies you might be interested in and available for, meaning that you can choose which time slots you want to sign up for.

What kinds of studies are there to join?

Most of the studies are in the form of surveys (in-person or online), though there are also others that may involve group work, physiological response measurements to stimuli, or performance of simple behavioral tasks. When you sign up for a study, there will be a detailed description of exactly what you should expect, so there won’t be any surprises.

I need some stats to be convinced to jump onto the bandwagon.

According to the Behavioral Research Lab website, over 2,400 people participated in 20 lab studies in Fall 2018 alone, for a total of 1,320 hours of research and over $21,000 worth of compensation to these participants.

I’m not great at navigating buildings. Where can I find the studies?

The Behavioral Research Lab studies take place in Uris Hall, home of the Business School. For reference, this is the building in between Havemeyer and Schermerhorn.

Most of the studies take place in the basement of Uris, namely Rooms B203, B204, and B205, which you cannot access from inside of Uris, so make sure you enter through the glass doors right outside the stairs that lead up to Uris Deli (on the right side of the building adjacent to Schermerhorn and Mudd). Don’t forget to bring your ID, since you’ll need to swipe in to enter through here. The lab office (Room B201) is also located in the basement. If you need any special accommodations in accessing the Uris basement, please email Lab Coordinator Ashley Culver at

Studies also take place in Room 304, which is on the third floor of Uris. For this room, you can enter through the main entrance of Uris.

Lastly, a few studies might be held in other locations, so make sure to always double-check before you go. Visit this webpage for more clarification on how to get where you need to go.

I’m on a tight schedule. How long do these studies last?

The majority of studies take between 15-45 minutes, but some are as short as five minutes or as long as over an hour. You can sign up for a time slot that works best for you, so you won’t have to worry about time conflicts with other events. There are also online studies, so you can complete these from the comfort of your dorm room!

How much will I get paid?

On average, the rate for these studies is around $16 an hour. You’ll either receive cash payment immediately following the study or compensation in the form of gift cards for online studies. You might also be entered into a lottery to win a prize!

Anything else I should be aware of?

Some important logistical things should be mentioned.

1. You can’t register for more than one SONA account, and you can’t participate in the same study more than once.

2. Try to always be on time for the studies to respect everyone’s schedule; for some studies, if you’re more than five minutes late, you won’t be allowed to participate. You can contact the researchers or call the Lab Manager at 212-854-5497 to let them know if you’ll be late.

3. Two unexcused absences per semester will lead to account deactivation, so if something comes up during your study time, cancel your appointment online. If it’s an emergency, you can contact the researchers directly via email.

4. Make sure you use your Identity Code, the five- or six-digit number that will be emailed to you when you sign up, when participating in studies. This code keeps you anonymous and is the only way that researchers will be able to identify you.

5. You should be aware of your rights as a participant in these lab studies. According to the lab website, you have the “rights to be treated ethically and respectfully, to be informed of the nature of the experiment, and to withdraw your participation at any time.”

6. All of the lab studies are approved by Columbia’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), and researchers need to obtain your “informed consent” before each study. They may need to provide you with more information after you have completed the study, as well.

For more information on your rights as a participant, contact the Columbia University Morningside IRB by phone at 212-851-7040 or via email.

If you have any remaining questions, visit the Behavioral Research Lab website or email

Spectrum staff writer Caroline Chen can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter at @ColumbiaSpec.

Behavioral Research Lab Psychology Studies Columbia Business School SONA
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