[CogSci] New toolkit for psycholinguistic experiments using instant messaging

Gregory Mills g.j.mills at rug.nl
Tue Dec 22 07:48:33 PST 2020

Dear colleagues,

We have just released a toolkit for running controlled psycholinguistic 
experiments using instant messaging.

The toolkit runs as a bot on the Telegram network. Participants connect 
to the toolkit using the Telegram app on their mobile phones. Since all 
messages between participants are mediated via the toolkit, data is 
instantly available for analysis - there is no need for participants to 
send in their data. The toolkit allows high levels of experimental 
control: participants can be dynamically assigned to different groups, 
and experimental instructions (e.g. images, texts, questionnaires) can 
be sent automatically by the toolkit to the participants in their chat 

The toolkit also supports fine-grained manipulations of the content and 
timing of participant’s turns. For example, experimental interventions 
can be scripted that automatically substitute key words and phrases in 
participants´ turns. Interventions can also be scripted that insert 
“spoof” turns into the dialogue. These spoof turns appear to 
participants as originating from each other, while they have in fact 
been created and sent by the server. These techniques allow the direct 
testing of hypotheses about how participants will respond to specific 
types of prompts at different moments in the interaction.

In addition to Telegram-based chat, the toolkit provides customizable 
chat interfaces that run on participants’ PCs (Windows, Apple, Linux). 
Among other features these interfaces can be set to display each 
character as it is typed, for investigating incremental language 
processing in dialogue.

The toolkit is open-source and is downloadable at:



Gregory Mills
g.j.mills at rug.nl

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