To most people, the idea of taking part in a psychology experiment doesn’t sound like a load of fun. Who would want to be a guinea pig and have scientists meddling with your mind?
Well, think again. Sometimes scientific research can have some unexpected rewards and perks for the participants. Here are nine psychology studies that you would find hard to turn down.
1) Swimming with dolphins
- Perks: swimming with four wild dolphins off a beach in Australia.
- What the study involved: Researchers tested participants’ well-being before and after the swim.
- Outcome: ‘Well-being was greater in participants who swam with dolphins than in those who did not, both before and after their swim.’
Source: The Effect of Swimming with Dolphins on Human Well-Being and Anxiety
2) Win a half-year’s salary
- Perks: The chance to win the equivalent of six months’ salary
- What the study involved: Researchers gave villagers in India a series of fun games to test if high monetary rewards had an impact on performance.
- Outcome: Amazing, large monetary rewards had a detrimental effect on performance. Those who were given most rewards performed better.
Source: Large Stakes and Big Mistakes
3) Shoot billiards, drink beer and chill out
- Perks: hang out with friends, free drinks, snacks and bar games, plus a taxi ride home
- What the study involved: Researchers questioned students about their opinions of tee-totallers, light drinkers and heavy drinkers. Afterwards, they let them chill-out in the bar-like atmosphere and observed their behavior.
- Outcome: People who viewed heavy drinkers in a more favorable light tended to order more drinks.
Source: Students’ drinker prototypes and alcohol use in a naturalistic setting
4) A three week wilderness adventure
- Perks: 3 weeks exploring the Superior National Park, Minnesota.
- What the study involved: Researchers compared students who went on a 21 day wilderness course with students who stayed at home on a range of psychological measures including self-efficacy (belief in one’s abilities)
- Outcome: The group that spent time in nature had higher levels of self-efficacy and this was ‘transferred into the personal, social and work spheres of participants’ lives.’
Source: Social Psychological Benefits of a Wilderness Adventure Program
5) Mess around with bubble wrap
- Perks: Have fun popping bubble wrap
- What the study involved: Participants were asked to pop bubble wrap of different sizes. Researchers recorded their moods before and after.
- Outcome: Participants felt more energized and calm, and less tired, but the activity had no effect on their tension.
Source: Popping Sealed Air-Capsules To Reduce Stress
6) Have a lot of sex
- Perks: Have twice as much sex as usual
- What the study involved: Researchers instructed to have double the amount of sex they normally have for 90 days.
- Outcome: ‘Increased frequency [of sex] does not lead to increased happiness, perhaps because it leads to a decline in wanting for, and enjoyment of, sex.’
Source: Does Increased Sexual Frequency Enhance Happiness?
7) Listen to music and eat delicious toffee
- Perks: Eat toffee prepared in a world famous restaurant while listening to music.
- What the study involved: Researchers investigated how different types of music affected people’s perception of taste
- Outcome: People who heard the ‘sweet’ soundtrack found the taste to be sweeter.
Source: A bittersweet symphony: Systematically modulating the taste of food by changing the sonic properties of the soundtrack playing in the background
8) Laugh all the way to the bank
- Perks: Get paid to laugh
- What the study involved: Participants watched either 10 minute clips of either; a comedy show, a nature documentary, or a golf instruction video. Participants were then asked to list 5 pieces of personal information they would be willing to share with other participants.
- Outcome: People who saw the comedy clip were willing to share more personal information than the other groups.
Source: Laughter’s Influence on the Intimacy of Self-Disclosure
9) Free relaxing massages
- Perks: Get 6 free 15-minute massages from a trained masseuse
- What the study involved: Researchers compared anxiety levels before and after the study.
- Outcome: People who got the massages had less anxiety during the study, as well as 3 weeks after the massages ended.
Source: The Effectiveness of Massage Therapy Intervention on Reducing Anxiety in the Workplace