Tag Archives: cocaine

A novel method of recruiting research participants

In college, I participated in my share of my psychological studies. I pressed the space bar every time I heard a tone for an hour. I allowed researchers to cap me with EEG electrodes and pick my brain. I willingly climbed into an fMRI scanner. But I think I was a rarity among students for actually responding to the fliers that decked the maze-like halls of the Psych building at the University of Michigan. Maybe the Psych grad students at my school were just really uncreative, but as I recall pretty much every flier soliciting participants consisted of plain white paper with boiler-plate black Times New Roman font and little tear-away tabs haphazardly cut into the bottom of the page — the tabs that, once torn, inevitably ended up as an incomprehensible wad in the bottom of the dryer. The largest fonts shouted the most general questions to passers-by who caught a glimpse in their peripheral vision and thought “Hey, that sounds like me.”

“ARE YOU STRESSED?” “DO YOU SOMETIMES FEEL SAD?” And of course, the low-hanging fruit of “DO YOU WANT TO MAKE SOME EXTRA CASH THIS SUMMER??” reeled in the strung-out and sleep-deprived, only to disappoint upon a look closer where the small print revealed they had to be left-handed non-smoking diabetics from East Asia to qualify.

But here in Williamsburg, I’ve noticed, people are starting to get creative:



These were business-card sized advertisements I found at the Internet Garage, my local computing hang out where, conveniently I used to work (free whatever, my geek boys hook it up).

Appealing, right? I mean, if you want to get people’s attention in this neighborhood, sex and cocaine are probably the ways to do it. But to the dismay of all the hopefuls who thought they had stumbled on a goldmine of hipster goodies, the back of the cards revealed the ulterior motive was a scientific study:

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