Behavior Research Methods

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 430–438 | Cite as

Build your own social network laboratory with Social Lab: A tool for research in social media

  • Pablo Garaizar
  • Ulf-Dietrich Reips


Social networking has surpassed e-mail and instant messaging as the dominant form of online communication (Meeker, Devitt, & Wu, 2010). Currently, all large social networks are proprietary, making it difficult to impossible for researchers to make changes to such networks for the purpose of study design and access to user-generated data from the networks. To address this issue, the authors have developed and present Social Lab, an Internet-based free and open-source social network software system available from Having full availability of navigation and communication data in Social Lab allows researchers to investigate behavior in social media on an individual and group level. Automated artificial users (“bots”) are available to the researcher to simulate and stimulate social networking situations. These bots respond dynamically to situations as they unfold. The bots can easily be configured with scripts and can be used to experimentally manipulate social networking situations in Social Lab. Examples for setting up, configuring, and using Social Lab as a tool for research in social media are provided.


Internet-based research Internet science Social media Social engineering Social networking sites Open-source software 


Author Note

We thank two anonymous reviewers and the editor for valuable feedback. Support for this research was provided by Cátedra Telefónica–Deusto. The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of the EU COST Action IS1004 “Webdatanet” ( The authors declare that there was no conflict of interest in the publication of this study. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Pablo Garaizar, Deusto Institute of Technology (DeustoTech) – Universidad de Deusto, Avda. Universidades 24, 48007, Bilbao, Spain. E-mail:


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deusto Institute of Technology (DeustoTech)Universidad de DeustoBilbaoSpain
  2. 2.Ikerbasque, Basque Foundation for ScienceBilbaoSpain

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