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Evaluating Online Labor Markets for Experimental Research: Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 January 2017

Adam J. Berinsky*
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139
Gregory A. Huber
Affiliation:
Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511. e-mail: gregory.huber@yale.edu
Gabriel S. Lenz
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720. e-mail: glenz@berkeley.edu
*
e-mail: berinsky@mit.edu (corresponding author)
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Abstract

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We examine the trade-offs associated with using Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk (MTurk) interface for subject recruitment. We first describe MTurk and its promise as a vehicle for performing low-cost and easy-to-field experiments. We then assess the internal and external validity of experiments performed using MTurk, employing a framework that can be used to evaluate other subject pools. We first investigate the characteristics of samples drawn from the MTurk population. We show that respondents recruited in this manner are often more representative of the U.S. population than in-person convenience samples—the modal sample in published experimental political science—but less representative than subjects in Internet-based panels or national probability samples. Finally, we replicate important published experimental work using MTurk samples.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Political Methodology 

Footnotes

Authors' note: Supplementary data for this article are available on the Political Analysis Web site.

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