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Open-Ended Prompt Treatments

An increasingly popular experimental technique is to have subjects write for a few minutes in response to a prompt, for example in order to induce a particular emotional state. We think such manipulations are very valuable when they work, but have become worried that they are not a good fit for TESS. Many respondents on web panel surveys often provide extremely cursory responses, and stipulations of our survey vendor do not allow investigators to press them to spend a particular amount of time on the item or write responses of a particular length. Of course, if the writing task is not taken seriously, there is no chance for the experiment to work, even if the hypothesis is correct. While we do not prohibit proposals for such experiments, we are wary of fielding them without reason to believe they will surmount the problem of engaging participants sufficiently for the manipulation to work.

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