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In the first week of March, scientists at the Center for Decision Research (CDR) at Chicago Booth were conducting studies at their campus lab, a downtown location, and at a pop-up location at Chicago’s Union Station when they received instructions to stop work immediately and isolate at home, as the realities of COVID-19 became increasingly clear.

In response to this crisis, the Center for Decision Research has successfully transformed its in-person operations, the PIMCO Decision Research Laboratories, into a virtual laboratory space. After three months in operation, more than 2,500 unique participants have taken studies in the Virtual Lab, completing 12,000 study sessions. In an average week, the Virtual Lab engages three times more participants than the in-person labs did a year ago, while maintaining the same high standards for data quality.

“I’ve just been amazed at how well our transition to the virtual lab has gone,” said Nicholas Epley, the John Templeton Keller Professor of Behavioral Science and Faculty Director of the Center. “I feared it was the end of productive research as we know it in the CDR. I could not have been more wrong. Everyone leapt to meet the challenge. Our staff worked relentlessly to develop new skills and solve completely new problems. Their teamwork and cooperation could be used as a case study in some of our management classes.”

Read the full story on CDR’s website to learn why the virtual research environment has yielded surprising benefits and how you can sign up to participate in paid online studies to further the center’s vital mission.

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