Participating as a subject in a research study can be an interesting and rewarding experience. You help to advance scientific research, and you get to experience firsthand what an experiment is like. Some research entails filling out questionnaires such as personality scales or opinion surveys. For other studies, you might be asked to interact with another person and then to complete questionnaires about your impressions. Still other research involves psychophysiological recordings of your heart rate and skin conductance.

You may take a class in which the instructor gives credit for participating as a subject in research studies. For all PSYC 100 courses, student must earn at least 5 credit points. For all other courses, participating in the subject pool is optional and the amount of credit points students can earn depends on the instructor but 5 or 6 is typical.

If you have additional questions, please contact the Subject Pool TA (

Download Slides for PSYC 100 Participation in the Subject Pool HERE

Download Slides for Non-PSYC 100 Participation in the Subject Pool HERE

    • If you are in a class that provides extra credit for participation, your instructor should always provide you with an alternative extra credit exercise. You should always remember that you can quit a research study at any time, with no negative consequences. If you are feeling physical discomfort or emotional upset from the study, you should not feel compelled to continue. Just inform the research assistant that you want to discontinue the study, and you will be able to do so immediately.
    • When you participate in a research study, the researchers should give you a written Information Sheet or Statement of Informed Consent that you sign before beginning the study. These documents describe what you will be doing during the course of the study and what risks or discomfort there might be.
    • The USC Office for the Protection of Research Subjects (OPRS) and Institutional Review Board (IRB) exist to protect research participants, Every research study in which you participate in the psychology department has been reviewed by the USC IRB for ethical and safety concerns. If you have any concerns or negative experiences or feel coerced or unfairly treated, you may contact Dr. Stephen Read (coordinator of the psychology department subject pool),, or Dr. Antoine Bechara, (Department Chair) Contact the IRB if you have questions about your rights as a research participant or you have complaints about the research. You may contact the IRB at (323) 442-0114 or by email at can also submit a complaint online at the OPRS website. Do not feel hesitant about alerting us to problems! The sooner a problem with a study is identified, the sooner it can be resolved.