Organizing the Methodological Toolbox: Lessons Learned From Implementing Developmental Methods Online

Jonathan F. Kominsky, Katarina Begus, Ilona Bass, Joseph Colantonio, Julia A. Leonard, Allyson P. Mackey, Elizabeth Bonawitz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Adapting studies typically run in the lab, preschool, or museum to online data collection presents a variety of challenges. The solutions to those challenges depend heavily on the specific questions pursued, the methods used, and the constraints imposed by available technology. We present a partial sample of solutions, discussing approaches we have developed for adapting studies targeting a range of different developmental populations, from infants to school-aged children, and utilizing various online methods such as high-framerate video presentation, having participants interact with a display on their own computer, having the experimenter interact with both the participant and an actor, recording free-play with physical objects, recording infant looking times both offline and live, and more. We also raise issues and solutions regarding recruitment and representativeness in online samples. By identifying the concrete needs of a given approach, tools that meet each of those individual needs, and interfaces between those tools, we have been able to implement many (but not all) of our studies using online data collection during the COVID-19 pandemic. This systematic review aligning available tools and approaches with different methods can inform the design of future studies, in and outside of the lab.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number702710
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - Sep 13 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


  • behavioral methods
  • developmental psychology
  • early childhood
  • infant
  • metascience
  • online studies


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