Comparing SurveyMonkey and Cognition: A Side-by-Side Review

Experiment Design

Running online experiments and studies can be a challenging task for scientific researchers. The choice of a suitable tool plays a pivotal role in the success of these studies. Two popular platforms for creating and managing online studies are SurveyMonkey and Cognition. In this article, we will compare these tools in terms of cost, learning curve, flexibility, and community.

Cost Comparison

SurveyMonkey offers various pricing plans, including a free plan with limited functionalities. The paid plans range from $26 to $75 per month, enabling access to features such as data exporting and priority customer service.

On the other hand, Cognition is an open-source tool, which means it is entirely free. Despite being free, Cognition offers robust features, such as running complex behavioral experiments and cognitive tasks, making it a comprehensive tool for scientific research.

Learning Curve Comparison

SurveyMonkey is known for its user-friendly interface, making it easier even for those without any technical background. However, the simplicity comes at the cost of limited customization, which can impact the depth and breadth of the research.

Being a more specialized tool, Cognition can have a steeper learning curve, especially for those unfamiliar with the jsPsych library. However, once conquered, it provides a much greater degree of customization, allowing researchers to create a wider variety of experiments.

Flexibility Comparison

SurveyMonkey offers flexibility in terms of data collection methods, with options for email surveys, web surveys, and social media surveys. However, it lacks when it comes to designing specialized experiments, particularly cognitive tasks.

Cognition, in contrast, excels in flexibility for conducting complex online experiments. It allows for the designing of advanced cognitive tests, making it an invaluable tool for psychological research. The tools provided by Cognition not only enable the design of such tests but also aid in running experiments and conducting remote studies.

Community Comparison

SurveyMonkey has a large and active community. This is useful when seeking advice or solutions to problems. However, the community is more consumer-focused, and less oriented towards scientific researchers.

The community around Cognition, while smaller, is much more focused on psychological and scientific research. It enables researchers to collaborate, share experiences, and seek advice on experiment design and function. This can be highly beneficial when running complex experiments or dealing with specific research challenges.


While both SurveyMonkey and Cognition offer robust tools for conducting online studies, the choice between the two largely depends on your specific research requirements and priorities. If you need a user-friendly tool for simple surveys, SurveyMonkey may suffice. However, if your research involves complex psychological or cognitive experiments, the flexibility and scientific focus of Cognition might make it the more suitable choice.

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