How do I know if participants are paying attention during studies?

Attention checks, or Instructional Manipulation Checks (IMCs), are a straightforward and simple way to determine who does or doesn't pay attention to your study instructions (Oppenheimer, Mayvis, & Davidenko, 2009).

We recommend that you always have at least one attention check in any given study.

Here's an example:

Payments can be made contingent on attention checks, provided they're fair. If you're unsure whether your attention check is fair, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Note: The attention check must be in a part of the study that, if it were not an attention check, would be vital to complete the study correctly. For example, it cannot be in repeated unchanging text, or in text that's in an intentionally small font. Also, attention checks should not require participants to remember unreasonable amounts of information. 

To learn more about attention checks, you can also read our blog post.


Oppenheimer, D. M., Meyvis, T., & Davidenko, N. (2009). Instructional manipulation checks: Detecting satisficing to increase statistical power. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(4), 867-872.

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