Frequently Asked Questions

Below we have some frequently asked questions about our Living Lab Program!

What is the UM Living Lab program?

The UM Living Lab gives adults and children the chance to see social/behavioral science in action and to ask questions to the researchers who are part of that science. The Living Lab program at UM brings researchers from the University of Michigan into public spaces where interested families can participate in short, enjoyable studies. Many of the studies explore questions about the development of behavior and cognition in children. Some studies also ask for parents to participate by taking part in the procedures or by filling out surveys. A key aspect of the Living Lab model is the communication between researchers and the public. Thus, the UM Living Lab serves as a way for people to learn more about the science of child development while taking part in that science!

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A view of the Living Lab in action at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

I want to come with my child to participate in a study. How do I get involved?

We currently have two Living Lab sites for you to visit in Ann Arbor:

You can find us in the museums on most weekends, and during most school vacations. To check on times when we are there, please see the UM Living Lab calendar. There is no need to schedule an appointment. When you see us, just come on over and say hello!

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A view of the Living Lab at the UM Museum of Natural History

Who are the researchers, and what are you studying?

The researchers who take part in the UM Living Lab program are from the University of Michigan.  Most are from the Department of Psychology, and are interested in children’s thinking, learning, and behavior.  A wide and fascinating variety of topics are explored in the UM Living Lab.  Some recent studies have explored:

  • What children understand about social power
  • What children and adults think about fair ways to hand out punishments and rewards
  • How children think and behave around scarce vs. plentiful resources
  • How children make predictions about their future selves
  • What children understand about race
  • What children believe about the power of wishing, hoping, and praying
  • What children understand about the traits of heroes and villains
  • How children’s memory is affected by the types of language we use
  • How children’s math abilities relate to their thinking about fairness

A key goal is that all children and adults have fun in our research!  Children are given thank-you gifts for participating, and adults receive more information about the study after participating. Everyone is encouraged to ask lots of questions about the research! We look forward to seeing you at a UM Living Lab site some time soon!