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How do I run studies with couples?

It is possible to conduct studies on pairs of romantic partners on Prolific. The process is slightly complex compared to some other study designs, but the guide below should help you to set up and run successful couple studies with us.

Step 1: Set your target audience with our prescreening tool

Prolific has an existing prescreener for recruiting couples, entitled 'participating together with a romantic partner on Prolific'.

studies on couples

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 the demographics you need. The system will then tell you the number of active participants meeting your criteria.

To recruit a sample using this screener, we recommend using an approach similar to recruiting a custom sample. This will be outlined below.

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 using the same internet connection taking part in a study.

Therefore, there will 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' prescreener. You should ask participants to provide their partner's Prolific ID, in addition to their own.

  Study 2 (Partner B)

You use a custom allowlist 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.

Top tips

  • As these studies require participation from independent individuals, we ask that each participant is compensated fairly for each of the studies that they complete, regardless of whether their partner completes their sections.
  • To motivate completion of the full study from both partners, you can delay paying participants in any of the studies for up to 21 days. Read more about this here: Can I delay payment until all parts of the study are completed? There is also general guidance here on minimising the drop-out rate, including offering bonus payments for full completion.
  • Once you have received each partner's submission to studies 1 & 2, you won't need to approve their submissions until studies 3 & 4 are completed (as long as these studies are conducted within 21 days of studies 1 & 2). For any partners that do not return for studies 3 & 4, you can simply approve their submission in studies 1 & 2 to pay a minimal reward for their time.

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

I need further help

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