Virtual Lab - Center for Decision Research | Chicago Booth

Virtual Lab


Launched in April 2020, the PIMCO Decision Research Virtual Lab enables research to be conducted safely, reliably, and remotely using online surveys, video chatting, and other digital platforms.

Despite COVID-19, empirical research remains crucial to advancing behavioral science, so here's how you can take paid studies from the comfort of your own home.

Sign Up (New Participants)    Log In (Existing Participants)


Participate in the Virtual Lab

You'll need:

  • A computer, smartphone, or tablet
  • Internet connection 

How to Get Started

  1. Sign up for an account. Within 1 business day, you'll receive an email with your login info and other important information.
  2. Tell us about yourself. The first time you log into your account, you'll be prompted to take a short prescreen survey about you and your background. Watch a video tutorial.
  3. Complete prerequisite studies to become eligible. These paid studies help ensure the Virtual Lab collects high-quality data. You must complete one or both before signing up for other online studies. 

    Computer Skills Survey
    ($2 / 5-10 min. / On Demand)
    Tests basic computer skills like typing and following instructions. This is required to take shorter studies like surveys. Video tutorial.

    Zoom Prerequisite Study
    ($3 / 10-15 min. / Tu-Sat 11am-4pm CT)
    Required to take studies via Zoom. Limited appointments per day. 
    Many of our highest-paying studies will be conducted via Zoom, a video chat platform. You'll need a computer with a working microphone, webcam, and audio. Video tutorial.

After completing these introductory tasks, you'll be able to sign up for behavioral science studies on our research platform, Sona.  

Sign Up to Participate



Participants are paid at a rate of $12 per hour ($1 for every 5 minutes). After completing a study, you'll be emailed an Amazon digital gift card as payment within one business day.

Please note that if you are located outside of the United States, you will only be able to redeem Amazon electronic gift cards via the USA-based site, and not on Amazon sites based in other countries.


What to Expect

Virtual Lab studies involve simple, everyday tasks like filling out surveys or conversing with a study partner. To take basic studies like surveys, you must first complete the Computer Skills Survey.

Interactive studies are conducted using Zoom, a popular video chat platform. These tend to be our highest paying studies and require appointments. Before taking Zoom studies, you must first complete the Zoom Prerequisite Study. Tips for using Zoom.

We pride ourselves on creating an inclusive and safe environment for all participants and researchers, so please review the Virtual Lab code of conduct before participating. 

Questions? Email us at


Research with Children

We also conduct studies with children as young as four years of age with parental consent. Our studies typically ask children to listen to stories via Zoom and respond to questions. Each study is designed to be interactive and fun, and studies last approximately 5-15 minutes. The sign up process is slightly different for our studies with children, so if you are a parent or guardian, visit our Research with Children page to learn more. 


Current Participants

Log into your account to see the studies you are currently eligible to complete. Don't see any studies? Check back soon! New studies & time slots are posted each weeknight by 8pm. 

Surveys are available on-demand 24/7 and can be completed any time before the study's deadline.

Zoom studies are conducted Tuesday-Saturday 11am-4 pm CT (UTC -5). New time slots are posted nightly by 8pm.


For Researchers

If you are a researcher interested in conducting studies in the Virtual Lab, please visit the Researcher Portal (requires CNET ID) or contact the Virtual Lab to discuss your options. The labs team can help with IRB approval, study design, data analysis, and more.