This is an intro, for looking up stuff, check here.

With PsyToolkit, you can run different types of online surveys:

  • Simple online surveys without reaction time experiments (these can run on mobile platforms, such as phones). For example, a survey about student satisfaction, or about people’s attitudes and opinions. Also check out the library with ready-to-run questionnaire scales.

  • Online surveys with reaction time experiments within them. This is ideal for Cognitive Psychological studies; you can use the survey to get some background information about the participants and then run the experiment in the browser.

  • You can have an unlimited number of questions.

  • Support for participant instructions in 5 languages (US and British English, Simplified Chinese, Dutch, and German). For example, if you choose simplified Chinese, the text (e.g., "continue") on the buttons is in Chinese.

  • Basic online analysis tools of completed surveys.

  • Conditional jumping to questions based on previous answers given.

  • Randomization of question order of specific sections of a questionnaire.

  • All common types of questions, such as single-choice, multiple-choice, Likert-scales, sliders, textlines, textboxes, etc.

The multi-language support refers to the user interface, such as the text in the buttons, etc. Of course, you still need to write your questions in the language you want it to be presented in.
Have a look at ready-to-run downloadable surveys/questionniares in the survey library.


The Internet is great for doing online surveys, and there are various very good web tools available that you can use for free (just do a Google search for "free online survey"). It is possible that there are other tools that are more suitable for your needs (PsyToolkit is free of use, and there is no interest to "sell" it to you — the aim here is just to give you the best information of what it is and you decide yourself).

PsyToolkit has its own questionnaire designer, but it has no fancy user interface (like some other online tools). All questions need to be typed into a text box in text format, following a special formatting protocol. It is not difficult, though.

PsyToolkit helps you to create very simple surveys with standard types of questions, such as questions in which you can choose one item out of many, choose multiple items out of many, enter a line of text, etc. This is similar to what other survey tools offer as well, and if this is all you want to do, you might use one of the other options (e.g., is quite good).

You can also have conditionals, that is, some questions will only be asked depending on the answers on other questions.

When you have created and compiled your survey, you get a URL link. You can send this link to people you want to fill in the survey. The collected data will be saved on the PsyToolkit server and can be downloaded as raw data (with some extra information, such as the time when the answer was given) and a spreadsheet file of the answers/scores per participant.

The unique option of PsyToolkit online surveys is that you can embed reaction time experiments typical in cognitive psychology in it. Actually, this is the only reason why I developed the PsyToolkit online surveys.

Data of the surveys and the reaction time data can all be downloaded and analyzed on your own computer. Thus, the PsyToolkit Online Surveys are primarily for psychologists who want to run online reaction time experiments. Of course, if you just want to do a questionnaire, you can do that as well. In that sense, PsyToolkit Online Surveys might be useful for anyone wanting to do an online survey.

Typically, you want some basic information about participants, such as their gender and age, and that is why you can embed the reaction time experiment in the survey. If you want to know how to program a reaction time experiment in PsyToolkit, you should read the introduction to PsyToolkit experiment scripting.

How to create a survey

Surveys are created as text in a text box in the browser. This is different from other online survey websites. PsyToolkit does not have an easy point-and-click graphical user interface to make each question (maybe that will be created in the future). Nevertheless, creating a survey is not very difficult!

The first thing is to create your own account on the PsyToolkit website ( Then play around to make yourself familiar with the interface. If you select “create survey”, you will get an example question. You can delete the example and enter a new questionnaire. How to program a questionnaire is explained below. How to actually run is explained below in the section “Running surveys”.

What you really need to know is that there are different question types. Each question needs to be described in a couple of lines, and how this is done follows a very specific format (I call it the survey syntax). What you need to know is that every question has a number of fields, which are marked with a symbol at the beginning of the line. Each question’s first field is the “label”, which is just written as “l:”. What follows is the actual label. Labels should not have any spaces!

Surveys are just made of text and are really simple to write. Each question is a few lines of text. Between questions is an empty line. It is best to look at the example at the end of this document to just get it.

Running surveys

Now that you know how to write the basics of a questionnaire, you might want to run one. You need to "compile" your typed-in information into a runnable survey.

Full examples

Example without an experiment embedded. Note that in the following example, there are just two questions (with an empty line between the two questions). The second question uses html tags as well, in this case, the text between <b> and </b> is displayed in bold.

option: survey-name: Childhood memory

l: gender
t: radio
q: What is your gender?
- Female
- Male

l: age
t: range
q: What is your age?
- {min=60,max=120} Select your age

l: earliest
t: textbox
q: Please write down your <b>earliest 3 memories of personal event</b>. For each even, say how old you were (1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, 5 years, etc).
- event1
- event2
- event3

Note that the following example has an embedded experiment and scale question of Big 5 personality. Note the two important things: Each label has no spaces, it is always just one word. And second, between questions is an empty line.

option: survey-name: Psychological Studies cognitive demonstration

scale: agree
- Disagree strongly
- Disagree moderately
- Disagree a little
- Neither agree nor disagree
- Agree a little
- Agree moderately
- Agree strongly

l: firsttime
t: radio
q: Is this the first time that you do this specific study?
- Yes, first try
- No. I already tried and finished it before and wanted to try it again
- No. I tried it before, but it did technically not work, and therefore try again

l: where
t: radio
q: Where are you right now?
- Alone in a room, and it is quiet
- Alone in a room, but it is not quiet at all (for example because of listening to music/tv)
- Outside university, in a room with other people, but it is pretty quiet
- Outside university, in a room with other people, and it is not quiet
- In a university room or library
- Somewhere else

l: gender
q: Are you male or female?
t: radio
- Male
- Female
- Do not want to answer

l: student
q: Are you a psychology student?
t: radio
- Yes
- No

l: computer
q: Do you regularly play computer games?
t: radio
- Yes, at least once a week
- No, less than once a week or never

l: tired
q: How fit do you feel?
t: radio
- Very awake and fit
- Neither fit nor tired
- I feel a bit tired
- I feel very tired

l: tipi
q: I see myself as ...
t: scale agree
- I see myself as Extraverted, enthusiastic
- I see myself as Critical, quarrelsome
- I see myself as Dependable, self-disciplined
- I see myself as Anxious, easily upset
- I see myself as Open to new experiences, complex
- I see myself as Reserved, quiet
- I see myself as Sympathetic, warm
- I see myself as Disorganized, careless
- I see myself as Calm, emotionally stable
- I see myself as Conventional, uncreative

l: simontask
q: Please carry out the experiment now, it takes around 10 minutes
t: experiment
- classroom_simon

l: comments
t: textbox
q: Do you have any comments?
- Type comments in the box below: