The Duke University ResearchMobile is a mobile laboratory for research in the social and behavioral sciences funded by a Major Research Instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation.
The 37-ft. air-conditioned trailer is equipped with four soundproofed cubicles, each capable of holding up to two participants for studying either individuals or dyads. Each cubicle has a writing surface, computer, monitor, and two cameras for audio-video recording. In addition, equipment is available for measuring physiological responses such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and galvanic skin response.
The ResearchMobile permits researchers in the social and behavioral sciences to:
- study difficult-to-reach target groups who have difficulty traveling to on-campus research sites, such as children, the elderly, users of rural healthcare, occupations that are tied to particular locations, and individuals who are displaced by natural disasters;
- recruit nontraditional and underrepresented samples of participants, thereby increasing the generalizability of research findings and the types of phenomena that can be studied;
- conduct experimental studies of people’s reactions to local events, such as local elections, plant closings, natural disasters, violent incidents, and advertising campaigns;
- respond rapidly to phenomena that are short-lived, such as disasters and community events;
- increase the ease with which broad samples of “ordinary people” may be studied.
Expanding and diversifying the populations and topics that scientists can study in controlled experimental settings extends knowledge regarding racial, ethnic, and other social groups who are under-represented in the experimental research literature as well as our understanding of a broader range of social, behavioral, and economic phenomena.
The ResearchMobile has been utilized to collect data from places like:
- Raleigh Flea Market
- North Carolina State Fair
- Durham Central Park Food Truck Rodeo
- North Carolina Central University
Use of the ResearchMobile is administered by the Interdisciplinary Behavioral Research Center (IBRC) and the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI).
Faculty members and other researchers who are interested in using the ResearchMobile should contact:
Patty Van Cappellen, Faculty Director of IBRC, firstname.lastname@example.org