Aims and topics of these lessons

These lessons…​

  • explain common terms and jargon in cognitive psychological psychology

  • demonstrate what common experiments look like

  • teach about how stimuli used in cognitive psychological experiments can be created

  • teach a little bit about the computer jargon and skills necessary behind setting up your own studies

  • introduce the free statistical software R

  • teach you how to setup your own PsyToolkit projects (with video screen casts)

Minion Lessons are great for learning how to set up PsyToolkit online studies

For whom are these lessons?

These lessons can be used by anyone to learn more about cognitive psychological experiments, such as the Stroop task, and how to set online studies (including online questionnaires). These lessons are suitable for secondary education, undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. They are also useful for researchers who want to use PsyToolkit in their online research.

The lessons are written in simple English without any expectations of prior knowledge of psychology. They come with links to useful resources and references.

If you are teaching psychology, and if you would like to contribute your own lesson, or if you have comments, do not hesitate to contact me.

Different types of lessons

There are six types of lessons.

Introductory lessons

Lesson Description

Computer Basics

This lesson helps students to understand the essentials of computers running PsyToolkit, and it introduces a few programs. Inkscape for creating stimuli. R for data analysis. For Microsoft users, it explains a bit about Notepad++, a free text editor for the Microsoft Operating System (OS):

Common Terms

Introduction to common terms used, such as stimulus, response, trial, task, paradigm.

Lessons about cognitive psychological phenomena and experiments

Lesson Description

Simple vs choice response time tasks

This lesson explains and demonstrates the difference between simple and choice response time tasks.

Stroop Effect

This lesson shows the famous Stroop Effect, possibly the best known psychological experiment in the area of experimental cognitive psychology.

Stimulus-Response Compatibility / Simon task

This lesson explains how response speed and accuracy can be affected by the spatial relationship between stimulus and response location.

Cueing / Posner Task

This lesson shows how to run a simple experiment. It compares responses with the left and right hand, and it shows how a valid cue helps participants to respond faster.

Visual Search

Why is difficult to find your keys in a cluttered room? Because there are so many similar items laying around. Psychologists have carefully studied how we search for things, and how the number of distracters affects performance.

Inhibition Of Return (IOR)

This lesson builds on the cueing lesson and introduces the phenomenon IOR.

ABBA task

This lesson is about when the "opposite" of normal spatial compatibility occurs (like in the Simon effect). It involves action planning, preparation, and memory.

Mental rotation

Can you imagine what an object looks like when it is rotated? People find this quite difficult. Mental rotation is a popular paradigm in psychology, and it is known that men and women perform, on average, differently on this task.

Fitt’s Law

Fitts’s Law describes the relationship between the time it takes to move your arm towards a target based on the distance between you and the target object and it’s size. That is, it takes more time to pick up something small that is far away than something that is close by, but the size of the object can compensate for that.

Negative Priming

This lesson explains how your behavior can be negatively influenced by what you have seen just before.

Lessons about other important software

In depth lessons about some of the software that you will need to become really efficient in using PsyToolkit.

Lesson Description


If you run experiments, you will need to create visual stimuli (although you can also play sounds very easily). Inkscape is a free drawing program to do exactly this. Learn here how.

Starting with R

Some PsyToolkit lessons use the statistical software R. You can follow the lessons without understanding or using R, but if you want to do your own data analyses, you might want to understand R a bit. Of course, you can use other statistical software, like SPSS or Excel instead, depending on your projects and needs.

How to set up a PsyToolkit study

In depth lessons about working with PsyToolkit (with videos telling you how to do things from start to finish).

Learning something new takes time!!! Expected learning time for Psychology students (with at least one year of study behind themselves) is, approximately, as follows:
  1. Understanding the basics of PsyToolkit: At least 1 hour (up to a few hours).

  2. Learning how to setup a questionnaire study: 1 to 5 hours.

  3. Learning how to set up a reaction time experiment: 2 to 10 hours.

  4. Learning how to analyze questionnaire data: 2 hours.

  5. Learning how to analyze experiment data: 5 hours.

  6. Learning to draw stimuli with Inkscape: 20 minutes to 1 day (depending on level of complexity).

  7. Understanding it all really well: A week.

Lesson Description

Setup a complete questionnaire study

Setup a questionnaire from start to finish (without embedded experiments). Everything is explained with video screen casts.

Setup a complete questionnaire with embedded reaction time experiment

An extensive lesson about how to setup a study with PsyToolkit with detailed video screen-casts. This study show how to setup a reaction time experiment and how to embed it in an online questionnaire. Ideal for those who want to set up their own online study. Includes videos on how to do everything from start to finish, including designing stimuli, program experiment code, questionnaire code, data analysis, and more.

Learn how to show stimuli in PsyToolkit experiments

Learn about the basic visual stimuli in PsyToolkit experiments: Bitmaps, rectangles, circles, and texts.

More about bitmaps

Learn more about one of the most commonly used type of stimulus in PsyToolkit experiments, the bitmap, also known as image file — lesson under construction

Add instructions

Learn how to add instructions for your participants. This not difficult, but very important, because people need to understand what they are supposed to do.

Add university logo

Learn how to add your university logo to the welcome page of your survey.

Exchange of information

Learn how to send information from surveys to experiments (and vice versa)]

Using jumps

Learn on how to jump conditionally or unconditionally from one question to another, based on question answers or for counterbalancing.

Receiving from or sending information to other websites

Learn how to use the in and out variables. This is an advanced topic that few users will need. But if you do, this will explain all you need to know.


How to get equal number of participants in different conditions of my online survey

Learning from experiment-code examples

Once you have learned the basics, you might want to see how specific things are done. The examples below give you some tips for "special" things might want to do in experiments.

Complete experiment-scripting manual can be found here.
Even though some of the examples are not the most common things to do, the examples show what sort of things are possible with PsyToolkit.
Lesson Description

Showing fixation points

Most experiments will have a fixation point. This lesson shows you three different ways to show fixations points.

Using tables

Use PsyToolkit tables to set up your experimental conditions

Measuring response times

Most experiments require participants to press a button. This lesson explains how to measure which key was pressed for how long.

Stroop experiment explained

Explains every line of a complete experiment, including advanced participant feedback

Experiment which plays sounds

Shows how to add sound stimuli to your study

Select a bitmap with the mouse

Shows 3 bitmaps, and participant needs to click one of them.

Choose items with mouse

Shows how participant can select and deselect items. This is useful for memory experiments

Run block until criterion reached

This is useful for tasks in which you want to train participants up to specific performance level.

Experiment with a Likert scale (rate)

Shows how to add a Likert scale in an experiment (rarely needed and for advanced users only)

Learn how to deal with time in PsyToolkit

Explains all the available time commands in experiments

Entering words using readkeys

Explains how to have participant enter words or numbers (not just one key)

Entering words using textbox

Explains how to have participant enter words or numbers (not just one key)

Play music during experiment

Explains how to setup continuously playing music during experiment

Let a stimulus disappear while still waiting for response

Explains how to show a stimulus and let it disappear from screen while the participant can continue to give a response for a longer period.

Selecting conditions or stimuli without a table

Shows you how you can have condition or stimulus selection without using a table.

Play video in experiment

Shows you how you can play one or more videoclips within your experiments

Using arrays

Explains how you can use array variables with a detailed example (visual search task). This is an advanced topic.

Learning from survey-code examples

Complete survey-scripting manual can be found here.

Once you have learned the basics, you might want to see how specific things are done. The examples below give you some tips for things people often want to do in online surveys.

Lesson Description

Questionnaire with images

Setup a questionnaire with smiley face icons to rate items (instead with text).

Questionnaire with embedded YouTube video

Learn how to embed a YouTube video in your online questionnaire and ask questions about it. Also explains scales and scoring in more detail.

Questionnaire with embedded audio/video with or without controls

Learn how to embed audio or video that you have more control over, with videos from Google Drive, with or without controls, option to play only once and so on

Alternative consent check

Learn how to have a tickbox list at the beginning of survey to check participants consent

Ending a survey early

Learn how to elegantly end a survey when people turn out not to be in the target population

Checking user IDs for participation

Learn how to only allow participipants with a certain ID-code, email, or number to participate

User’s uploaded/mailed stimuli

Learn how to ask the participant to send you some information (e.g., document or picture)

Participant recruitment systems

There are various websites that help you to quickly find online participants. Some of these websites are free, such as PollPool. Others cost money, such as Prolific. They can all be used very easily with PsyToolkit. If you experience problems with this, let us know via



Using PollPool

Learn step by step how to use the free online recruitment system PollPool with your PsyToolkit questionnaire

Using SONA

Learn step by step how to use SONA systems with your PsyToolkit questionnaire

Using Prolific

Learn how to use PsyToolkit with Prolific. Prolific is an easy way to recruit and pay participants.

Using MTurk

Learn how to use PsyToolkit with MTurk. MTurk is an easy way to recruit and pay participants.




Translate survey phrases

Learn how to improve or add a language for online surveys