Social network visualization by Martin Grandjean, via Wikimedia Commons.

A new SFI project seeks to unravel how our friends shape the way we think about current issues. But to do this, we need your help.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, SFI Professor Mirta Galesic and External Professor Henrik Olsson are launching the new SciFriends project. It’s an online platform where groups of friends will participate in short, occasional paid studies. Participants will be asked to assess different characteristics about their friends — things like their opinions on social, political, health, and scientific issues. Everyone’s answers will remain confidential.

“Current social science on how accurately people assess these characteristics in their friends is not settled,” Galesic says. “In SciFriends, we will be able to assess the importance of trust and social costs for acceptance of novel information, and help predict the likelihood of belief change depending on the level of agreement among one’s friends.”

Understanding how social groups influence individual beliefs and decisions could help improve public education efforts around important issues of science, health, environment, and finance. Despite abundant and accessible scientific information, it has never been more apparent that people tend to disregard information from sources they don’t trust, even if the information is accurate.

Please help SFI better understand how social circles shape our thinking by joining this online research panel.


Here’s how you can participate:

  1. Complete a short questionnaire and create an account on the SciFriends website.
  2. Add the email addresses of three to five friends to join you in the project. You’ll be rewarded for each friend who participates.
  3. SciFriends will email you with 5-10 studies over the next 6-12 months
  4. Get paid through PayPal!


We're hoping for a diverse range of participants — all participants must be 18 years or older and have or be able to open a PayPal account. For now, funding is limited to 100 participants and up to 500 of their friends.

Research findings will be announced in a future issue of SFI's Parallax newsletter and on our website.

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