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This page provides definitions (below) for some of the terms used in the pages describing when IRB review is required for various types of projects. Generally, definitions of terms commonly used by the IRB can be found in our definitions SOP. Those which aren't covered in our SOP can be found below. 

Benign Behavioral Intervention

A benign behavioral intervention is any behavioral intervention that is brief in duration, harmless, painless, not physically invasive, not likely to have a significant adverse lasting impact on the subjects, and the investigator has no reason to think the subjects will find the interventions offensive or embarrassing.

Provided all such criteria are met, examples of such benign behavioral interventions would include having the subjects play an online game, having them solve puzzles under various noise conditions, or having them decide how to allocate a nominal amount of received cash between themselves and someone else.


An institution is considered engaged in a particular human subjects research project when its employees or agents for the purposes of the research project obtain: (1) data about the subjects of the research through intervention or interaction with them; (2) identifiable private information about the subjects of the research; or (3) the informed consent of human subjects for the research. An institution may also be considered engaged if it the main recipient of a federal grant that supports human subjects research activities.

Want to learn more about making an engaged/non-engaged determination? View our engagement worksheet

Still unsure about what something means? Contact us anytime at and a member of the OIA team will be happy to help!