Running studies on couples

One common dyadic study design we often come across from researcher requests is couples studies. That is, researchers want to run studies on pairs of romantic partners.

It is possible to conduct such studies on Prolific. The process is slightly complex, but the guide below should help you set up and run successful couple studies with us:

Step 1: Set your target audience with our prescreening tool

Prolific has an existing screener for recruiting couples, entitled "Participating together with a romantic partner on Prolific." 

As usual, you can check how many eligible participants we have by creating a study and going to the "audience" section. From there, you can select for the demographics you need. The system will then tell you the number of participants meeting your criteria.

To recruit a sample using this screener, we recommend using an approach similar to what is outlined here: Recruiting a niche sample with custom screening requirements.

Step 2: Set up your couples study through a two-study setup

The first study in this two-study approach should be a short survey, which asks participants to confirm that they are still in a relationship with someone also using Prolific, and are willing to take part in your main study together. This study should be distributed to each partner separately, so that both partners' consent is obtained prior to your main study. This is because our duplicate IP blocking mechanism prevents more than one participant from the same household taking part in one study.

Therefore, there will in practice be 4 Prolific studies involved here, as outlined below:

Study 1 (Partner A)
Recruits participants who have responded 'Yes' to the "Participating together with a romantic partner on Prolific" screener. You should ask participants to provide their partner's Prolific ID, in addition to their own.

Study 2 (Partner B)
You use the "Custom Allowlist" option to invite the partners, using the IDs obtained from Study 1. Then, you simply ask them to confirm that they are happy to take part in your main study together with their partner (Partner A).

Study 3 (Partner A)
Run your main study, with a Custom Allowlist added containing the IDs of your "Partner A"s.

Study 4 (Partner B)
Run your main study, with a Custom Allowlist added containing the IDs of your "Partner B"s.

If you have any questions regarding running couples studies, or any other dyadic studies, please feel free to contact our support team, and we'll be there to help.

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