A practical guide for studying human behavior in the lab

Joao Barbosa, Heike Stein, Sam Zorowitz, Yael Niv, Christopher Summerfield, Salvador Soto-Faraco, Alexandre Hyafil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In the last few decades, the field of neuroscience has witnessed major technological advances that have allowed researchers to measure and control neural activity with great detail. Yet, behavioral experiments in humans remain an essential approach to investigate the mysteries of the mind. Their relatively modest technological and economic requisites make behavioral research an attractive and accessible experimental avenue for neuroscientists with very diverse backgrounds. However, like any experimental enterprise, it has its own inherent challenges that may pose practical hurdles, especially to less experienced behavioral researchers. Here, we aim at providing a practical guide for a steady walk through the workflow of a typical behavioral experiment with human subjects. This primer concerns the design of an experimental protocol, research ethics, and subject care, as well as best practices for data collection, analysis, and sharing. The goal is to provide clear instructions for both beginners and experienced researchers from diverse backgrounds in planning behavioral experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-76
Number of pages19
JournalBehavior Research Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


  • 10 rules
  • Good practices
  • Human behavioral experiments
  • Open science
  • Study design


Dive into the research topics of 'A practical guide for studying human behavior in the lab'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this