Psynteract: A flexible, cross-platform, open framework for interactive experiments

  • Felix Henninger
  • Pascal J. Kieslich
  • Benjamin E. Hilbig
Article

Abstract

We introduce a novel platform for interactive studies, that is, any form of study in which participants’ experiences depend not only on their own responses, but also on those of other participants who complete the same study in parallel, for example a prisoner’s dilemma or an ultimatum game. The software thus especially serves the rapidly growing field of strategic interaction research within psychology and behavioral economics. In contrast to all available software packages, our platform does not handle stimulus display and response collection itself. Instead, we provide a mechanism to extend existing experimental software to incorporate interactive functionality. This approach allows us to draw upon the capabilities already available, such as accuracy of temporal measurement, integration with auxiliary hardware such as eye-trackers or (neuro-)physiological apparatus, and recent advances in experimental software, for example capturing response dynamics through mouse-tracking. Through integration with OpenSesame, an open-source graphical experiment builder, studies can be assembled via a drag-and-drop interface requiring little or no further programming skills. In addition, by using the same communication mechanism across software packages, we also enable interoperability between systems. Our source code, which provides support for all major operating systems and several popular experimental packages, can be freely used and distributed under an open source license. The communication protocols underlying its functionality are also well documented and easily adapted to further platforms. Code and documentation are available at https://github.com/psynteract/.

Keywords

Strategic interaction Economic games Social dilemmas Experimental design Software OpenSesame Python Process tracing 

References

  1. Chen, D. L., Schonger, M., & Wickens, C. (2016). oTree–An open-source platform for laboratory, online, and field experiments. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, 9, 88–97. doi:10.1016/j.jbef.2015.12.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Dalmaijer, E. S., Mathôt, S., & van der Stigchel, S. (2014). PyGaze: An open source, cross-platform toolbox for minimal-effort programming of eyetracking experiments. Behavior Research Methods, 46(4), 913–921. doi:10.3758/s13428-013-0422-2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Fiedler, S., & Glöckner, A. (2015). Attention and moral behavior. Current Opinion in Psychology, 6, 139–144. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.08.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fiedler, S., Glöckner, A., Nicklisch, A., & Dickert, S. (2013). Social Value Orientation and information search in social dilemmas: An eye-tracking analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 120(2), 272–284. doi:10.1016/j.obhdp.2012.07.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Frystyk, H., Masinter, L., Leach, P., & Berners-Lee, T. (1999). Hypertext transfer protocol – HTTP/1.1. RFC Editor.Google Scholar
  6. Fischbacher, U. (2007). z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments. Experimental Economics, 10(2), 171–178. doi:10.1007/s10683-006-9159-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Geller, A. S., Schleifer, I. K., Sederberg, P. B., Jacobs, J., & Kahana, M. J. (2007). PyEPL: A cross-platform experiment-programming library. Behavior Research Methods, 39 (4), 950–958. doi:10.3758/BF03192990.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Güth, W., Schmittberger, R., & Schwarze, B. (1982). An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 3(4), 367–388. doi:10.1016/0167-2681(82)90011-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Güth, W., & Tietz, R. (1990). Ultimatum bargaining behavior: A survey and comparison of experimental results. Journal of Economic Psychology, 11(3), 417–449. doi:10.1016/0167-4870(90)90021-Z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hertwig, R., & Ortmann, A. (2001). Experimental practices in economics: A methodological challenge for psychologists? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24, 383–403.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Hilbig, B. E., Thielmann, I., Klein, S. A., & Henninger, F. (2016). The two faces of cooperation: On the unique role of HEXACO agreeableness for forgiveness versus retaliation. Journal of Research in Personality, 64, 69–78. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2016.08.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Janssen, M. A., Lee, A., & Waring, T. M. (2014). Experimental platforms for behavioral experiments on social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society, 19(4). doi:10.5751/ES-06895-190420.
  13. Kieslich, P. J., & Henninger, F. (2016). Mousetrap: Mouse-tracking plugins for OpenSesame (Version 1.2.1). doi:10.5281/zenodo.163404 10.5281/zenodo.159583.
  14. Kieslich, P. J., & Hilbig, B. E. (2014). Cognitive conflict in social dilemmas: An analysis of response dynamics. Judgment and Decision Making, 9(6), 510–522.Google Scholar
  15. Krause, F., & Lindemann, O. (2014). Expyriment: A Python library for cognitive and neuroscientific experiments. Behavior Research Methods, 46(2), 416–428. doi:10.3758/s13428-013-0390-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Mathôt, S., Schreij, D., & Theeuwes, J. (2012). OpenSesame: An open-source, graphical experiment builder for the social sciences. Behavior Research Methods, 44(2), 314–324. doi:10.3758/s13428-011-0168-7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Oosterbeek, H., Sloof, R., & Van de Kuilen, G. (2004). Cultural differences in ultimatum game experiments: Evidence from a meta-analysis. Experimental Economics, 7(2), 171–188. doi:10.1023/B:EXEC.0000026978.14316.74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Peirce, J. W. (2007). PsychoPy – Psychophysics software in Python. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 162 (1-2), 8–13. doi:10.1016/j.jneumeth.2006.11.017.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Psychology Software Tools Inc (2012). E-Prime (Version 2.0). Retrieved from http://www.pstnet.com.
  20. Rand, D. G., Greene, J. D., & Nowak, M. A (2012). Spontaneous giving and calculated greed. Nature, 489(7416), 427–430. doi:10.1038/nature11467.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Seithe, M., Morina, J., & Glöckner, A. (in press). Bonn eXperimental System (BoXS): An open source platform for interactive experiments in psychology and economics. Behavior Research Methods. doi:10.3758/s13428-015-0660-6.
  22. Stewart, N., Gächter, S., Noguchi, T., & Mullett, T. L. (2016). Eye movements in strategic choice. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 29(2-3), 137–156. doi:10.1002/bdm.1901.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Van Lange, P. A. M., Joireman, J., Parks, C. D., & Van Dijk, E. (2013). The psychology of social dilemmas: A review. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 120(2), 125–141. doi:10.1016/j.obhdp.2012.11.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cognitive Psychology LabUniversity of Koblenz-LandauLandauGermany
  2. 2.Experimental Psychology, School of Social SciencesUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany
  3. 3.Center for Doctoral Studies in Social and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany
  4. 4.Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective GoodsBonnGermany

Personalised recommendations