By now, most people have heard of the gig economy and have some idea of how it works. In the gig economy, people perform short-term jobs or tasks to earn money. Gig economy jobs are considered independent or contract work, meaning people who work in the gig economy often trade the benefits and stability of traditional employment for the freedom and flexibility to decide when and how much they work. Some of the most easily identifiable gig economy platforms are Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, and the slightly less mentioned Mechanical Turk or MTurk.
A persistent cause of concern for researchers who conduct studies online is understanding what participants might be doing while completing their study. When participants are outside the lab, they cannot be observed and distracting aspects of the environment cannot be controlled by the research team. As a result, researchers are left to wonder: how much attention are participants giving my survey?
In this blog, we report on one small aspect of this issue by describing the work style adopted by workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.