An integral part to psychological research is our participants. However, to enjoy one of the most fun parts of the research process – conducting interviews and behavioral assessments – first, you must successfully navigate participant recruitment. This has turned into one of the most challenging aspects of my MA thesis, which I greatly underestimated while designing my study.

We are currently in the process of trying to up our recruitment of participants from the Williamsburg community who are not enrolled in a 4-year college or have received a Bachelor’s or more, and individuals who are currently involved with the criminal justice system (e.g., incarcerated, on probation). Our hopes are to recruit about 50 individuals into each group. However, as is typical, recruitment is moving slowly. Currently, we have seven participants involved with the criminal justice system and zero from the community.

We are hopeful that we may see a change in our recruitment patterns in the next couple of weeks, especially with the criminal justice system involved sample. Our participants from this sample have primarily been recruited from a local jail; however, after reaching out to another local jail and a re-entry program in Northern Virginia, we believe we may soon see an increase in recruitment. I have already travelled to Northern Virginia to recruit one participant and will hopefully be returning soon to recruit some more. Additionally, we have received approval from the second local jail and hopefully in the next couple of weeks will have some individuals interested in participating.

One of the primary issues of recruiting individuals from the criminal justice system is gaining approval from the institutions. Individuals involved with criminal justice system can often times be a higher-risk individual and questions that may not appear sensitive to a college student, may be truly upsetting to someone who is currently incarcerated. As a result, the approval process is often times more strenuous and time consuming. However, in our case, now that we have passed the approval process, we are hoping to begin the next step and will start interviewing more participants soon.

Although recruiting college students from a participant research pool would definitely be easier, a college student population cannot always answer every research question. Part of what makes our research so rewarding is all the hard work that goes into the study. Even though the phase my study is currently in is at times challenging and frustrating, in the end the hard work will pay off and the results will be that much more satisfying.