Release the Hypotheses!: Tools & Techniques for Experimental Studies ‘in the Wild’


Project period: July – November 2016

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Professor Danaë Stanton Fraser, Professor Tim Ibell
University of Bristol: Dr Andy Skinner
Cardiff University: Professor Roger Whitaker, Professor David Linden
University of Exeter: Professor Mark Levine

Project overview

Psychology and allied behavioural science disciplines increasingly want to explore the human world beyond the laboratory in order to improve the resolution, significance, validity and robustness of studies.

As research ‘in the wild’1 becomes more commonplace, we are seeing increasing reliance on an array of technologies and techniques to record, analyse and assign structure and meaning to data captured to study real-world human behaviour.

While mobile devices, sensors and networks – the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) – are providing increased access to data collection, the ability to control or influence the human setting in which the data collection occurs remains underexplored.

Furthermore, traditional approaches to pattern matching and intelligent algorithms are often designed in ways which ignore scientific hypotheses or experimental methods, with concerns arising around the validity and reliability of findings generated in processes that are often described as ‘dredging’ for statistical significances in massive datasets3.

Research in the Wild is therefore often characterised by qualitative or mixed-methods techniques which can better cope with the subjectivity of real-world settings, making them highly sensitive to context in comparison with traditional laboratory experiments.

 Our key outcome will be a GW4 consortium which is prepared for a large grant in the area. While we will be strongly focused on producing this specific grant proposal, there may also be secondary outcomes, including greater levels of collaboration on publications and further collaborative projects.