We're sponsoring your research - 7 Day Study Challenge

:mag: 7 Day Study Challenge


  • We’re funding research on important, newsworthy topics
  • Topics we want to focus on are Covid-19, fake news/conspiracy theories or climate change
  • You’ll have 7 days (from receiving our funding) to launch and present the findings of the study

The Challenge

Prolific was in the news recently after challenging an Ipsos poll regarding attitudes to Covid restrictions. You can read the coverage in The FT here. (Or check out our Twitter thread).

Following the positive response, we’re eager to provide a fresh perspective on other social issues, and we’d love your help!

We’re looking for volunteers to run research on important, newsworthy topics that would benefit from a representative sample of up to 1500 participants. You can put a different spin on an existing study (like we did with the Ipsos poll), or come up with an entirely novel idea. We’ll pay for the participants, of course (up to £1000).

The catch? You’ll have 7 days (from receiving our funding) to launch and present the findings of the study.

The outcome of this research will be featured on our blog, with your contribution credited. Your audience is the average reader, so we’d like you to avoid complicated statistical tests and focus on communicating the importance of your research.

We have three topics we’d like to explore:

:earth_africa: Climate change
:newspaper: Fake news/conspiracy theories
:man_scientist: Covid-19

Do you have an idea for a study on those topics? Give us an up to 250-word summary which includes:

  • Your research question / aim of the study
  • Your methodology
  • Cost estimates
  • Link to your ResearchGate or Google Scholar profile (or similar service)

Deadline for submitting: Friday 13th Aug 2021 (6pm GMT)

We’ll select our favourites at the end of next week and get in touch to discuss the details!

@trust_level_0 @Community_Leaders

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I want to explore the relationship between loneliness in COVID and depression with different clinical features.

How to apply for this activity?

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Josh –

FYi – we are the group that deconstructed the Russian SVR (social media disinformation) system. If you are interested in disinformation and want to run our software on Prolific panels, we can.

But several issues to consider -

(Attachment 4a - Russia’s social media influence campaigns may be more sophisticated than we thought.pdf is missing)

(Attachment Product Deck 7-20-21 .pdf is missing)

(Attachment Travel - Week 4 report v2.pdf is missing)

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Topic: Fake news

I will test whether partisanship affects news scrutiny: I will first teach subjects how data can be misconstrued to tell a story. Subsequently, I will test whether the subjects’ willingness and ability to fact-check changes depending on whether they agree or disagree with the article in question.

For more details incl. hypotheses, experimental design, and pre-registration, see this post.


Welcome to the community :tada:

Give us a summary which includes (250 words max):

  • Your research question / aim of the study
  • Your methodology
  • Cost estimates
  • Link to your ResearchGate or Google Scholar profile (or similar service)

Thanks for your comment!

Just to clarify, would you like to run a study on those topics as part of this challenge?

Also, your attachments didn’t upload :slight_smile:

RE: Challenge

Yes. We can run set up, recruit through you and publish within 7 days – no problem. I’m not sure the UK77 crew can/will move that fast, but if you wanted to include them and demo in front of them, we can try to make the challenge a Prolific-Veriphix-UK77 public test.

We’ve already demonstrated the tech to the MOD/HOL. I don’t need to run a panel, but they were just talking about something that makes me think turning this Prolific challenge into a pseudo demo could solve some problems. Running it under a public challenge gives you all something to publish, and gets you in front of MOD/Home Office. I don’t mind running more data on the issue – we are software on our end.

If you want to go down that path, I can ping Fittock (chief of Staff at 77) and see who should ride shotgun and loop you in. It may be a generic consulting company so this could be you announcing the winner as Veriphix + Generic Consulting company.

We are software so just pick the issue you want to be associated with –

Covid disinformation discovery

Economic / Travel disinformation discovery

Disinformation directed at military

Disinformation re: ??? (pick an issue that is pulling the UK apart or an issue with political / economic / societal importance)

RE: attachments

Here is a dropbox transfer link with the attachments.

Injection Fear Predicts Vaccine Hesitancy

Injection phobia is known as “the only deadly anxiety disorder” because some people forgo lifesaving treatment out of fear of needles. This status may be cemented by the COVID-19 pandemic, as unvaccinated individuals die tragically and unnecessarily from the virus. Surprisingly, there has been little research on the role of injection fear in vaccine hesitancy. Although only 3% meet full criteria, up to 15% of the population experiences injection fear and avoids some injections. Presently, 22% of the eligible US population is unvaccinated. I predict that unvaccinated adult population is higher in injection fear compared to the vaccinated population (after adjusting for demographics) and that injection fear uniquely predicts vaccine hesitancy.

I will measure injection fear using the Injection Phobia Scale (Olatunji, Armstrong, et al., 2010), and through a behavioral measure, MouseView.js (Anwyl-Irvine, Armstrong, & Dalmaijer, 2021). Using eye tracking, I found that injection fear is reliably characterized by looking away from images of injections (Armstrong et al., 2014). I have replicated this effect with MouseView.js, an online approximation of eye tracking in which participants view images through an aperture of clarity controlled by their mouse. COVID vaccine hesitancy will be measured using the Adult Vaccine Hesitancy Scale (Akel et al., 2021). A demographics scale will measure vaccine status, age, gender, race/ethnicity, political affiliation, income, and education. I have nearly all the measures and reduction scripts pre-programmed.


N = 400 US/UK representative, duration = 7 min, participant cost = £995.10 (.88 each)


Do Normative Rules Interfere with Belief Judgments?

Omid Ghasemi (OSF)
Andrew Roberts (OSF)
Simon Handley (Goggle Scholar)

A Very Short Background

Previous research has shown that normative rules such as logic or probability can interfere with belief
judgments (e.g., Pennycook et al., 2013). In the current project, however, we are interested to see if normative rules can interfere with more entrenched beliefs such as climate-related beliefs. To investigate this question, we intend to run two experiments by recruiting participants who believe in climate change and those who deny climate change.


Participants will be presented with 24 climate-related and 24 neutral base-rate arguments and will be asked to evaluate them either based on statistics rules or their personal beliefs by selecting a number on a scale from 0 to 100.

  • A neutral base-rate argument:

    • In a study 1000 people were tested. Jack is a randomly chosen participant of this study.
    • Among the participants there were 5 engineers and 995 lawyers.
    • Jack is 36 years old. He is not married and is somewhat introverted. He likes to spend his free time reading science fiction.
    • What is the probability that Jack is an engineer?
  • A climate base-rate argument

    • In a large online experiment, 1000 participants were given a graph of the history of global temperatures. Allan was a randomly chosen participant of the experiment.
    • Among those participants, 996 concluded that the temperature has stayed the same, and 4 concluded that the temperature has increased.
    • Allan has interpreted the graph incorrectly. He only considered the temperature trend of the last few years, instead of the long-term trend.
    • What is the probability that Allan concluded that the temperature has increased?

Half of the arguments are conflict items in which the base-rate information and the stereotypical information are incongruent. The other half are non-conflict items and both base-rate and stereotypical information cue the same response. If normative rules can interfere in both political and neutral beliefs, we would expect lower accuracy on conflict items under belief instructions, regardless of the content of arguments. On the other hand, a larger conflict effect for one content compared to another indicates that normative rules accessibility varies across different beliefs.

Pilot Study - Already done
As we intend to recruit participants who deny climate change as a real phenomenon (trend deniers) in Experiment 1, those who deny it as a human-caused phenomenon (source deniers) in Experiment 2, we ran a pilot experiment on Prolific to identify our desired samples. We recruited participants who have already responded “No” to the Prolific pre-screen question “Do you believe in climate change?” and asked them the following question:

  • Which of these three statements about climate change comes closest to your view?
    • Climate is changing mostly because of human activity such as burning of fossil fuels
    • Climate is changing mostly because of natural patterns in the Earth’s environment
    • There is no solid evidence that climate is changing

As the following figure shows, out of 751 participants, 171 were trend deniers (believing climate change is not happening) and 454 were attribution deniers (believing climate change is not human-caused).

Experiment 1 (Trend Deniers) - Already done

For this preregistered study (OSF), we recruited 180 participants including 90 climate believers and 90 trend deniers (Mean age = 34.71, SD = 13.36, 70 females). Using a linear mixed-model with conflict (conflict vs. non-conflict), instructions (statistics vs. belief), content (climate vs. neutral), and group (believers vs. deniers), we found that conflict interfered with belief-based and statistic-based judgments for both climate and neutral arguments. Thus, people, in general, were sensitive to conflict between normative rules and their beliefs even when they are evaluating climate-related arguments. In other words, the presence of conflicting statistical information reduces people’s ability to respond in line with beliefs (for both stereotypes and climate beliefs) irrespective of political perspective.

Experiment 2 (Attribution Deniers)
We participated in this challenge to seek funding for Experiment 2. For this experiment, we plan to recruit 300 participants, including 150 climate believers and 150 attribution deniers. The procedure, materials, and analysis would be the same as Experiment 1. The experiment would take around 40 minutes. The general question is whether statistical information still interferes with both climate and neutral belief judgments when we use a sample of attribution deniers. Moreover, depending on the funding, we may add measures such as cognitive ability and style, climate scepticism, numeracy, etc. to investigate individual differences in the main effects.

Cost Estimate
To recruit 300 participants for a 40-minute experiment, we need £2,000. We are aware the maximum amount that we can apply for is £1,000, so we are happy to provide the rest from our Ph.D. budget.

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What Drives Aggressive Discrimination Against East Asians During COVID-19?
Jose Yong (Google Scholar)
Amy Lim (ORCID)


  • Violent discrimination against East Asians is on the rise during COVID-19
  • Some theories suggest that discrimination is driven by disgust in order to avoid infection
  • This runs counter to aggressive discriminatory behavior, which makes people approach those they want to attack
  • We aim to determine which motive fundamentally underlies discrimination against East Asians during COVID-19

Background and Overview of Research

Following COVID-19, discrimination and violence against Chinese nationals and individuals of East-Asian descent have been reported across the US and Western Europe. While these behaviors appear to stem from wanting to avoid being infected given the association between East Asians and the origins of COVID-19, attacks against these individuals—assumed to be COVID-19 carriers—would be counterintuitive to such motivation as close contact is involved and would ironically increase the chances of infection. As studies have yet to address this contradiction, we aim to uncover the actual motives that underlie the discrimination displayed against East Asians, broadly, during the pandemic.

According to pathogen avoidance theory (Tybur & Lieberman, 2016), discrimination arises from the motivation to avoid disease. Mechanisms facilitating such motivation, in particular disgust, significantly predict people’s discriminatory tendencies. In contrast, intergroup threat theory (Cottrell & Neuberg, 2005) posits that threat appraisals evoke anger, which spurs actions to remove sources of the threat. Aggressive discriminatory behavior manifests as one such threat-removal action. Guided by these competing theories, we aim to determine the precise motives that drive discrimination against Asians.

Research Methodology

A sample of 800 participants, recommended based on a priori power analysis via G*Power (using α=.05, 1-β=0.80, for a conservative small effect size, f=0.02), will be surveyed via Prolific. Participants will be asked to report their demographics (age, gender, ethnicity), perceptions of threat from Asians, feelings of anger and disgust, and endorsement of discriminatory behaviors against Asians. Anonymity and confidentiality will be emphasized to increase the likelihood of honest responding. This analysis is easily achievable within the 7-day timeframe.

Study Costs

We seek £2,005.33 in credit based on Prolific’s costing tool for a sample of 800 pre-screened participants. As we are interested in discrimination against East Asians, we will exclude Asians from this study. The survey will take approximately 15 minutes and compensation will be in line with the UK living wage (£8.91 per hour).

Expected Contribution and Impact

Knowing the precise motives that drive discrimination against Asians during COVID-19 will help to address the nature of aggressive discrimination, with further implications for discriminatory behavior beyond East Asians as the target group given that such discrimination can also happen to different targets elsewhere (e.g., due to COVID-19 variants originating from India and Indian nationals). Finally, our research will shed light on the legitimizing effects of COVID-19 on aggressive discriminatory behavior.


Public opinion on measures to counter disinformation online

Sandy Schumann

This study examines public approval of different measures that are employed to counter disinformation online. Social media platforms have, in response to regulatory requirements, introduced different mechanisms to reduce the prevalence and distribution of disinformation online. However, without users’ approval, the success of these initiatives is limited. If measures are not accepted, users may move to less restrictive sites (i.e., Parler instead of Facebook), which then leads to a displacement rather than reduction of disinformation.

To explore public opinion on measures that are aimed to counter disinformation online, I propose to conduct a cross-sectional survey. I will capture approval of three specific measures – red-flagging harmful content, content removal, and deplatforming users who share disinformation. I will investigate support for the measures in two scenarios: a) the topic discussed in the content is personally important but it does not affect society at large and b) the topic is personally not important but it strongly affects society at large. Moreover, I will assess how participants would react if they were affected by countermeasures themselves (i.e., having their content red-flagged); affective and behavioural reactions will be examined.

I aim to recruit a nationally representative sample of 500 participants. Participants should be currently resident in the UK. The survey will take approximately seven minutes to complete, which would result in a cost of £977.16. The study and analysis plan will be pre-registered; all material and data will be made available in a public repository.

Google scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=W9kk7iIAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao

Website: https://sandyschumann.github.io/

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Topic: Fake News/ Propaganda

This proposal aims to construct a model which uses valued arguments and user-reported polarization reports regarding argument sets and predicts the societal receptiveness to the arguments. The model maps out base opinions on a multiplex Cartesian graph of concentric circles against a series of polar values for statements. These polar arguments are what is shared when propaganda is released into a system. As a result, allowing us to evaluate the effect of mass propaganda. Stemming from the psychology of affective polarization and argument anchoring, it uses a measure of intensity, polarization, and group effect. Thus, proving useful in telling the long-term ramifications of propaganda/fake news on a given population size. This model’s use for measuring the mass perception of propaganda would be useful in topics such as how COVID related rumors/fake news spreads in a given population size, political group or region.

EST Cost: 500 Participants ($1.50 USD per Participant). ~10 min survey. Total: $1000

Proposal: Do we want our future children to walk on a “carpet of flowers” or on a “carpet of trash”?
Testing the impact of metaphorical language on environmental concern.

The above-mentioned quote is from the environmental activist Haïda El Ali, who has dedicated his whole life to the renaturation of the mangrove forest. The metaphors powerfully illustrate the responsibility we have for future generations. Previous research has shown that metaphorical compared to non-metaphorical language increases the comprehensibility of information (e.g., Casarett et al., 2010), enhances attention (e.g., Fernandez-Duque & Johnson, 2002), and facilitates its memorization (e.g., Pearson et al., 1981). There has been much research on the use of metaphorical language in medicine (Casarett et al., 2010; Hendricks et al., 2018), education (Duit, 1991; Pearson et al., 1981), and various social contexts (Panzeri et al., 2021; Schnepf & Christmann, in press). To date, little research has been done on the effects of metaphors in relation to crucial environmental problems. Psychological framing research has focused on abstract phenomena such as “the climate” or “the environment” (Flusberg et al., 2017; Hardisty et al., 2010), but less attention has been paid on concrete consequences such as floods, extreme heat, droughts, or the global waste problem. The aim of this study is to test whether the use of metaphorical compared to non-metaphorical frames for concrete environmental issues affect people’s environmental concern, their willingness to act and to donate for related pro-environmental programs. For this purpose, an experiment is planned in which two concrete environmental issues are labeled with a metaphorical frame versus a non-metaphorical frame. This results in four experimental conditions (issue x frame). To be able to identify a small framing effect, 600 participants will be needed. The study will take about 7 minutes. Therefore, a budget of £739.20 is needed.

Researchgate account: Julia SCHNEPF | PhD Student | Master of Arts | Universität Koblenz-Landau, Koblenz | Faculty of Psychology


Casarett, D., Pickard, A., Fishman, J. M., Alexander, S. C., Arnold, R. M., Pollak, K. I., & Tulsky, J. A. (2010). Can metaphors and analogies improve communication with seriously ill patients?. Journal of Palliative Medicine , 13 (3), 255-260. http://doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2009.0221

Duit, R. (1991). On the role of analogies and metaphors in learning science. Science Education , 75 (6), 649-672.

Fernandez-Duque, D., & Johnson, M. L. (2002). Cause and effect theories of attention: The role of conceptual metaphors. Review of General Psychology , 6 (2), 153-165. https://doi.org/10.1037/1089-2680.6.2.153

Flusberg, S. J., Matlock, T., & Thibodeau, P. H. (2017). Metaphors for the war (or race) against climate change. Environmental Communication , 11 (6), 769-783. https://doi.org/10.1080/17524032.2017.1289111

Hardisty, D. J., Johnson, E. J., & Weber, E. U. (2010). A dirty word or a dirty world? Attribute framing, political affiliation, and query theory. Psychological Science , 21 (1), 86–92. SAGE Journals: Your gateway to world-class journal research

Hendricks, R. K., Demjén, Z., Semino, E., & Boroditsky, L. (2018). Emotional implications of metaphor: Consequences of metaphor framing for mindset about cancer. Metaphor and Symbol , 33 (4), 267-279. https://doi.org/10.1080/10926488.2018.1549835

Panzeri, F., Di Paola, S., & Domaneschi, F. (2021). Does the COVID-19 war metaphor influence reasoning?. Plos One , 16 (4), e0250651.

Pearson, P. D., Raphael, T. E., Tepaske, N., & Hyser, C. (1981). The function of metaphor in children’s recall of expository passages. Journal of Reading Behavior , 13 (3), 249-261.

Schnepf, J., & Christmann, U. (in press). “It’s a war! It’s a battle! It’s a fight!”: Do militaristic metaphors increase people’s threat perceptions and support for COVID-19 policies? International Journal of Psychology , https://doi.org/10.1002/ijop.12797

Research question: Can brief reappraisal intervention (an emotion regulation training) improve emotional resilience during COVID-19 in a representative sample in the long run?

Research background: Our recent study across 87 countries finds that brief reappraisal interventions delivered online (vs. active and passive controls) can significantly increase positive emotions and decrease negative emotions in response to COVID-19, without reducing intentions to practice preventive health behaviors (Wang et al., 2021). Importantly, the effects of the intervention were not meager, helping ease the emotional toll caused by lockdown and self-isolation. The findings demonstrate the viability of creating scalable, low-cost interventions for use around the world.

Knowledge gap: However, our sample was not nationally representative, and we examined only the immediate and proximal effects of the interventions. In this study, we plan to employ a longitudinal design on a representative sample to examine whether the effects generalize across the population and persist over time.

Methodology: We will randomly assign participants to one of two experimental conditions (reappraisal intervention or active control) and follow up every day for a week on their mental health and well-being.

Sample size: We will recruit 260 participants based on power analysis.

Cost estimates: £1,396.90 for the initial survey and follow-ups (we will use other sources to cover the part over £1000)

Google Scholar profile: ‪Ke Wang‬ - ‪Google Scholar‬

Reference: Wang, K… & Isager, P. M. (2021). A multi-country test of brief reappraisal interventions on emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nature Human Behaviour, 1-22.

We note that the budget offered by Prolific’s 7-day challenge is £1000. In light of this budget, we can either reduce the sample size to 400 (costing £1002.67) based on a less conservative medium effect size (f=0.02), or still aim for 800 participants and cover the remaining £1005.33 ourselves. Regardless, the £1000 support will still go a long way in allowing us to conduct this timely and urgent research.

Perceptions of wastewater health surveillance in the UK

COVID-19 is shed in faeces, causing traces to enter the sewage system. Wastewater sampling is a new health surveillance method that offers early warning of localised outbreaks, yet we know little about how the public perceive this form of health surveillance. This study aims to understand public perceptions of using wastewater health surveillance and how people’s willingness to share such data changes across different phases of a pandemic. The data collected will complement our existing survey data, allowing us to explore how people’s perceptions differ when surveillance is performed using wastewater data compared to using other data types (e.g. mobility data). The findings will help inform UK policy and be incorporated into the final report from the Observatory for Monitoring Data-Driven Approaches to COVID-19 (omddac.org.uk).

We’ll adapt our previously tested and deployed COVID-19 survey to the context of wastewater surveillance. Conjoint design will be used which presents participants with a series of paired scenarios and asks them to select their preferred scenario. Scenarios will be defined through 3 attributes (I) Covid-19 Alert level, (II) the organisations the data is being shared with, (III) the size of the wastewater sample (e.g., average UK residential street). Participants will be asked how willing they are to share their wastewater data in all scenarios. This conjoint approach deconstructs the participant’s decision into its core components (the attributes), enabling their effects on data-sharing preference to be investigated.

£1,358.99 (500 participants, 7 minutes at £8.40/ph, UK representative sample (£358.99 we will cover).

Nina Serdarevic: Nina Serdarevic
Monika Pompeo
Francesco Capozza

Conspiracism: The Role of Beliefs, Personality traits and Harmfulness

From the JFK assassination to QAnon, conspiracy theories have cast a shadow on political and historical events. A common misperception is that they are endorsed by a minority of individuals with extreme views. However, a recent study found that half of the American public endorsed at least one conspiracy theory. The first step in the fight against conspiracy theories is understanding who is most likely to believe them and why.

This survey aims to document agreement with conspiracy narratives, beliefs about their prevalence and study its connection to individual characteristics across the US population. There are at least two channels through which misperceptions about the prevalence of such narratives might affect policy. First, status-seeking, the belief that they are a minority holding the truth, may push people to support conspiracy theories. Second, a “false-consensus” effect may make individuals believe that their attitudes are more widespread than they actually are. Correcting these misperceptions with information could increase support for interventions counteracting the spread of conspiracy narratives.

To precisely target information it is essential to consider whether agreement is heterogeneous along an individual-specific dimension, which probes the role of respondent’s misperceptions, personality and morality. We also consider a theory-specific dimension exploring the harmfulness of the conspiracy narrative in question.

approx 1.500 participants x £1.25 per participant + £0.50 bonus for belief elicitation question

Loneliness and depression with different clinical features during the COVID-19 outbreak


Depression is a highly heterogenous diagnostic category. Most studies have examined the association between loneliness and depression, yet little is known on the extent to which loneliness contribute to individual variability in clinical features of depression. In this study, I want to investigate the relationship between loneliness and depression with different clinical features.

Methodology :


250 Participants


Loneliness was assessed using the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Loneliness Scale (Russell, Peplau, & Cutrona, 1980).

Depressive symptoms were assessed using Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)-9 (Kroenke, Spitzer, & Williams, 2001), Beck depression inventory (BDI) (Beck, Ward, Mendelson, Mock, & Erbaugh, 1961), Emotion recognition tasks.

Anxiety symptoms were assessed using Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) (Fydrich, Dowdall, & Chambless, 1992).

Mood states were assessed using the positive affect negative affect schedule (PANAS)

Cost estimates:£1000 (250 participants * 4 pounds)

Link: Wenyu Li | Experimental Psychology (ucl.ac.uk)

What an excellent idea! I couldn’t find any direct link between fear of needles and vaccine hesitancy while attempted to answer a SE question. These data would be very informative.