Do data from mechanical Turk subjects replicate accuracy, response time, and diffusion modeling results?

Roger Ratcliff, Andrew T Hendrickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Online data collection is being used more and more, especially in the face of the COVID crisis. To examine the quality of such data, we chose to replicate lexical decision and item recognition paradigms from Ratcliff et al. (Cognitive Psychology, 60, 127-157, 2010) and numerosity discrimination paradigms from Ratcliff and McKoon (Psychological Review, 125, 183-217, 2018) with subjects recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT). Along with these tasks, we collected data from either an IQ test or a math computation test. Subjects in the lexical decision and item recognition tasks were relatively well-behaved, with only a few giving a significant number of responses with response times (RTs) under 300 ms at chance accuracy, i.e., fast guesses, and a few with unstable RTs across a session. But in the numerosity discrimination tasks, almost half of the subjects gave a significant number of fast guesses and/or unstable RTs across the session. Diffusion model parameters were largely consistent with the earlier studies as were correlations across tasks and correlations with IQ and age. One surprising result was that eliminating fast outliers from subjects with highly variable RTs (those eliminated from the main analyses) produced diffusion model analyses that showed patterns of correlations similar to the subjects with stable performance. Methods for displaying data to examine stability, eliminating subjects, and implementing RT data collection on AMT including checks on timing are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2302-2325
Number of pages24
JournalBehavior Research Methods
Issue number6
Early online date6 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Across-session variability
  • Diffusion decision model
  • Mechanical Turk data
  • Response time and accuracy


Dive into the research topics of 'Do data from mechanical Turk subjects replicate accuracy, response time, and diffusion modeling results?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this