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The first message I ever sent from my Northern Michigan University sanctioned email was to the editor-in-chief of the North Wind asking if there was any way I could join the staff. Classes hadn't even...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Opinion — Becoming a human guinea pig for STEM

Harry Stine/NW
RESEARCH — The Department of Psychological Science accepts volunteers to participate in research studies. Signing up for a study only takes a few minutes at most, and then you’re able to find a time that works for you.

I, like many college students, am often strapped for cash. This has led to me thinking up creative, if stingy, ways of saving money – whether that may be letting my empty cans pile up until I take them in for the deposit, paying for part of my groceries with loose change, or partitioning off food and dividing it equally among the days of the week. I’ve been teased by friends and roommates, but it’s worked for me.

One particularly poor week last semester got me thinking outside the box. I needed money, and bad. I thought back to my sophomore year of high school, when my English teacher explained that you can volunteer for experiments on campus, usually for cash in return. There it was.

I feel like many NMU students don’t realize that this is actually a thing that exists on campus. Any student can volunteer themselves for research studies in the Department of Psychological Science, with some of the experiments providing compensation. Many of the experiments also grant extra credit in psychology courses sometimes instead of money. I’m sure that this is very helpful, but I’ve only taken PSY 100, and even that was four years ago, so I would much rather mediate my financial woes.

I won’t get too into what the experiment was. I don’t know much about the scientific method, but I have a feeling that experiments work a lot better when test subjects aren’t given extra details about the testing beforehand.

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But I can tell you that it was interesting, for me at least. I sat in a room by myself for about an hour and a half, responding to stimuli on a computer screen, deeply curious about what my responses would be used for. And I never really knew either.

If anything, I enjoyed being kept in the dark. I’d even like it if it was weirder, because I feel like being a human guinea pig should be able to make a stranger story than it was. Everything was quite straightforward, but some friends and family found the idea that I’d use myself in an experiment for money a little funny.

Despite the fact that I would do it again, I was a little disappointed in the pay itself. The website listed $30 compensation, but I only received money based on my score in the experiment, leaving me with $7 and some change. Not quite the delivery I was expecting it to be, but I did pick up some slices from Main Street Pizza with it. Not a total loss.

However, there are other research studies that offer more money, and like I said, I enjoyed participating even if it was just out of curiosity. In fact, if I ever find time in my schedule, I will definitely be doing it again. Having a little extra cash to get myself lunch doesn’t sound so bad.

So, if you’re tight on funds this semester, looking for extra credit, or you’ve just always wondered what it’s like to be a “human guinea pig,” then volunteer yourself as a test subject for the Department of Psychological Science. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the help, and you’re guaranteed to get something out of it as well.

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About the Contributor
Harry Stine
Harry Stine, Opinion Editor
In 2021, after one year of college and a semester of studying as a Public Relations major, I realized I wanted to be a journalist and not much else. After eagerly applying to be a Copy Editor, without even knowing AP style at that point, I started doing the occasional contributing writer piece for The North Wind. My frequent topic was satire. When I heard The North Wind was going through another round of hires, and a spot was open for an Assistant Features Editor, I applied in a heartbeat. I still do the occasional satire piece, but I take great pride in exploring NMU and Marquette for my topics, and finally having my head wrapped around AP style.