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I've often used Inquisit to run psychological experiments online. The software enables delivery of stimuli (e.g., text, images, etc.) and collection of reaction times.

Obviously general purpose programming languages provide one avenue for delivery of online experiments. There's also a good listing of software for psychological experiments here. I've also seen PsyToolkit which is GNU licensed software for programming psychological experiments, but I'm not aware of any online option.

Are there any open source options for online delivery of psychological experiments, particularly ones that enable reaction time measurement?

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I'm curious about this too. I use Adobe Flash to write psychological experiments -- the opposite of open source! –  Andy DeSoto Feb 6 '12 at 22:27
HTML5 is really capable and could be used to construct reaction time experiments. While I have no data on response registration latency, I can't imagine that it is that bad. A plus with using HTML is that you can run pilots (or studies) on Amazon Mechanical turk, which is a very convenient way of rallying participants. See for example: Buhrmester, M., Kwang, T., & Gosling, S. D. (2011). Amazon’s Mechanical Turk: A New Source of Inexpensive, Yet High-Quality, Data? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(1), 3-5. doi:10.1177/1745691610393980 –  Rasmus Bååth Feb 20 '12 at 8:43
I think the question (or answers?) might need a bit refinement in that response time measurements are easy in terms of accuracies in the order of seconds, but it becomes exceedingly difficult if tens-of-milliseconds-accuracy is necessary. –  AliceD Mar 9 at 12:28

7 Answers 7

For an open source JavaScript/HTML/CSS solution, check out jsPsych: http://www.jspsych.org. It can be used for reaction time measurement and interactive designs. An article describing the library was recently published in Behavior Research Methods.

de Leeuw, J. R. (2015). jsPsych: A JavaScript library for creating behavioral experiments in a Web browser. Behavior Research Methods, 47(1), 1-12.

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thanks - this look really promising and also very current - last update on github github.com/jodeleeuw/jsPsych was only 2 weeks ago –  jacanterbury Jun 5 '14 at 14:36

I'm not sure if it can measure reaction times but Tatool, developed at the University of Zurich, is an open source experiment platform that can be run from the web:


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Limesurvey is worth checking out (more suitable for questionnaire style tasks, but very flexible and with some coding it should be possible to, eg. record RTs)

Wextor could be another possibility - it allows building more complicated designs, has not been developed for a bit, though...

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Another option is ScriptingRT. It's open source and fairly easy to use. The experiments are designed via a script language and then compiled into Flash apps.

ScriptingRT is designed to measure reaction time differences in the millisecond range. Schubert et al. (2013) report comparisons with other response time programs (e.g., DMDX, e-prime, Inquisit, see Studies 1 and 2).

The data suggest that measuring reaction times with ScriptingRT is associated with a little bit more noise than on lab computers. However it is sufficiently precise for the type of questions typically addressed in psychological experiments.

From Study 1:

the SDs of these responses stayed below 7 ms in all three browsers. That value is comparable to many regular keyboards and standard reaction time software. In addition, the constant added by measuring in ScriptingRT was about 60 ms. This result suggests that researchers using ScriptingRT should thus focus primarily on differences between RTs and be cautious when interpreting absolute latencies.

From Study 2:

ScriptingRT resulted in both longer response latencies and a larger standard deviation than all other packages except SuperLab and E-Prime in one configuration. Nevertheless, in absolute terms, the SD of 4.21 is comparable to what was standard for keyboards for a long time [16]. It is thus clear that any test with ScriptingRT should be well powered and used to assess primarily paradigms with a large effect size.

Schubert, T.W., Murteira, C., Collins, E.C., Lopes, D. (2013). ScriptingRT: A software library for collecting response latencies in online studies of cognition. PLoS ONE 8: e67769. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067769

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What is the accuracy range? I mean, second or millisecond-range? –  AliceD Mar 9 at 12:30
I added some information to the answer. –  MaríaAnt Mar 9 at 13:04
Great! Very useful info. +1 –  AliceD Mar 9 at 13:05

WebExp is a free framework for developing web-based experiments, and the source code is freely available. The client side is a Java applet, so subjects must have Java installed on their computers. Perhaps this causes fewer drop-outs than having to install the executable generated by Inquisit Web. This paper discusses the timing accuracy of WebExp-based experiments.

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from a quick look at their website it doesn't look like this product has been worked on since 2009 :( –  jacanterbury Jun 5 '14 at 14:33

We just released a beta version of Tatool Web based on JavaScript and HTML 5 which allows for running web experiments in the browser and measuring reaction times. You can check it out on www.tatool-web.com and of course it's open source.


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I would highly recommend looking at http://www.qualtrics.com/. You can take a look at free trial accounts and see how its easy to use interface is still extremely sophisticated – e.g. automatic option to record response time – and can be augmented with javascript when you want to.

I'm not sure of pricing because many universities often buy a site license. But Qualtrics has revolutionized the way we do experiments.

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Hi Joseph. Welcome to the site. It's great to have someone with your background and expertise involved on the site. I guess Qualtrics isn't open source. Is Qualtrics mainly for surveys or can you do experiments involving multimedia, reaction time, randomisation of stimuli, etc? –  Jeromy Anglim Apr 27 '12 at 13:10
The questions clearly asks (in bold) for Open Source Options and Qualtrics is a commercial package. Also, although I don't think the builtin timing features will have the precision of psychology response time type experiments without writin gyour own Javscript. –  jacanterbury Jun 5 '14 at 14:27

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