Whitman Behavioral Lab Conducts Human Subject Research


Students looking to earn some cash for their next cup of coffee need to look no further than the basement of the Whitman School. Located in room 010, the Behavioral Laboratory at the Whitman School of Management provides Whitman faculty and Ph.D. students with the resources to perform studies on human subjects for the purpose of business management research. All Syracuse University students, regardless of year or major, are welcomed to participate in 30-minute studies and will receive five dollars in exchange for their time and attention.

“Contrary to some popular beliefs, participating in research at the B-lab is not painful or boring. Many students leave asking when they can participate again,” says Breagin Riley, assistant professor of marketing at Whitman. “Our studies are interesting and engaging. It really doesn’t feel like you’re taking an exam.”

Founded in 2011, the Behavioral Lab was born out of faculty and student recognition of a need for a space to study human subjects in the context of business research. Studies performed in the lab today focus on a variety of topics, including consumer decision making, personalities and team performance. Many different business disciplines are represented at the lab, including finance, marketing and supply chain management.

While some studies are primarily questionnaires focusing on attitudes, others are significantly more interactive to provide researchers with more behavioral-focused insights. For example, a recent social exclusion study asked participants to play a ball-tossing game with others on the computer. After playing, participants then had the option to choose either a healthy or an unhealthy snack—think apples versus Cheetos—while researchers looked at personality, emotional response and self-control. The study found that participants who were higher in extraversion felt worse after social exclusion, demonstrating lower levels of self-control by choosing Cheetos more often. In other studies, participants have completed puzzles, played games or even created origami.

Students interested in participating in a study can sign up through SONA using their Syracuse email address. The lab is open each week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Additionally, Drop-in Days are held up to three times each semester, which take place from noon to 5 p.m. on a Thursday or Friday. Most studies take approximately 25 to 30 minutes to complete.

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