1) General Information on Participating in a Research Study

How can I participate in an MPIEA study?

We are always looking for participants of all ages to take part in our research studies. You can register in our participant database at ae.mpg.de/mitmachen without any obligation to participate. You will then receive regular invitations and information on our current studies. Participation is entirely voluntary; and you can unsubscribe at any time, and your personal data will be deleted.

What are these studies for?

The MPIEA conducts empirical research in order to gain fundamental knowledge about aesthetics. When it comes to works of music, literature, film, or art, opinions often differ widely. This is because, as is well known, tastes differ. What we want to know is: Why do people's tastes differ and why do they like what they like? How is taste created and what influences it? And what functions do aesthetic preferences have for individuals and societies?

Detailed information about the research of the MPIEA can be found here and on the pages of our departments.

Where do the studies take place?

Most studies take place at our Institute on Grüneburgweg in Frankfurt's Westend neighborhood (directions). For some studies you may be able to participate online from home. For certain other studies, you may be invited to the Brain Imaging Center (BIC) in the Niederrad neighborhood (directions).

Will I receive compensation for participating?

Compensation for on-site studies starts at 14 euros per hour, but may be more depending on the duration and scope of the study. As a rule, there is no compensation for participating in online studies, but there is often an opportunity to take part in a raffle for shopping vouchers.

What are the criteria for participating?

These depend on the particular study. We generally require that participants be at least 18 years old. But for some studies we specifically seek children or adolescents, especially when the development of aesthetic preferences is concerned. There are also studies that require a certain mother tongue or expertise (e.g., playing an instrument). Sometimes, for methodological reasons, certain studies are restricted to certain groups of participants (e.g., right-handers, a certain age group, etc.). Often, however, there are no specific criteria for participation.

Our MRT/MEG studies are subject to stricter conditions for participation. For example, participants must not have any non-removable metal in or on their body in order to exclude the risk of injury.

Detailed requirements for participating in a study are announced in advance either in the invitation or on the study information page and must be read carefully.

What happens to the results of the studies?

The results are published in different scientific journals or on our website. You can subscribe to our newsletter, which provides regular information on our latest research findings and publications.


2) Methods

What is involved in a research study?

Each of our studies is very different from the other, so it is impossible to generalize as to what is involved in them. Our online studies, for example, often consist of questionnaires about different topics. In most of our laboratory studies you will be presented with visual or auditory stimuli, such as a piece of music, a text, or a short film, after which you will be asked a few questions or to choose between different responses within a short period of time. In some studies, additional measurement methods are used, such as tracking eye movements or recording brain waves (EEG).

In our studies at the Brain Imaging Center in Niederrad, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or magnetoencephalography (MEG) is used to take images of the brain or to measure its magnetic fields. Their aim is to record neuronal activities under the influence of visual or auditory stimuli.

How long does a study last?

This depends on the type of study: Online studies typically take only 15–30 minutes, while laboratory studies take between one and three hours. The MRI/MEG studies can also involve multiple appointments. The duration of a study will always be announced in advance.


3) Data Protection

What happens to my data when I register in the participant database?

We store and process your data exclusively for the purpose of contacting you and planning studies. No other Max Planck Institute has access to this data, and under no circumstances will your data be passed on to third parties.

You can find detailed information on data protection here.

What happens to the data collected during the studies?

All data collected in the course of a study are treated confidentially. The collection and processing of data is anonymized, i.e., it is labelled with a number, not the participant's name. The number and name are indeed linked on a separate coding list, which exists only as a hard copy (on paper) and is accessible only to the experiment and project leaders. This means that only this small group of people immediately connected to the project can associate the data collected from you with your name. The coding list is stored in a locked cabinet and is destroyed when the research project is completed. The results of our studies are also anonymized when published, i.e., without the data from study participants being in any way attributable to them.


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