Experience sampling method

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The experience sampling method, also referred to as a daily diary method, or ecological momentary assessment (EMA), is a research methodology that asks participants to stop at certain times and make notes of their experience in real time. The point is that participants record temporal things like their feelings while in the moment (right then, not later; right there, not elsewhere).[1] They can be given a journal with many identical pages. Each page can have a psychometric scale, open-ended questions, or anything else used to assess their condition in that place and time. Online ESM studies can also operate fully automatized.[2] The experience sampling method was developed by Larson and Csikszentmihalyi.[3]

There are different ways to signal participants when to take notes in their journal or fill-out a questionnaire,[4] like using preprogrammed stopwatches. An observer can have an identically programmed stopwatch, so the observer can record specific events as the participants are recording their feelings or other behaviors. It is best to avoid letting subjects know in advance when they will record their feelings, so they can't anticipate the event, and will just be "acting naturally" when they stop and take notes on their current condition. Conversely, some statistical techniques require roughly equidistant time intervals, which has the limitation that assessments can be anticipated. Validity in these studies comes from repetition, so you can look for patterns, like participants reporting greater happiness right after meals. These correlations can then be tested by other means for cause and effect, such as vector autoregression,[5] since ESM just shows correlation.

Software and related tools[edit]

iHabit was the first smartphone platform for ESM. It was developed in 2011 and used in a study published by PLOS One in 2013.[6] The creators of iHabit released their second platform, the LifeData system, in 2015, which was used in a study published by JAMA Pediatrics in 2016.[7] Other early smartphone platforms for ESM include SurveySignal[8] and Ilumivu, developed in 2012, MetricWire, developed in 2013, and Movisens and Aware (Open Source). The largest ESM study was achieved through PSYT's Mappiness App,[9] PSYT’s apps collect data through ESM as well as reporting the data back to users to enable real-time visualisation and tracking of variables. Several other commercial and open source systems are currently available to help researchers run ESM studies,[10] including BeepMe,[11] and Expimetrics.[12] Physiqual enables researchers to gather and integrate data from commercially available sensors and service providers to use them in ESM,[13] including Fitbit and Google Fit. As of 2014, Movisens have developed the ability to trigger sampling forms from physiological data such as actigraphy and ECG.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Csikszentmihalyi, M. (July 2014). Validity and Reliability of the Experience-Sampling Method. New York: Springer. p. 322. ISBN 978-94-017-9087-1. 
  2. ^ van der Krieke; et al. (2015). "HowNutsAreTheDutch (HoeGekIsNL): A crowdsourcing study of mental symptoms and strengths". International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research. 25 (2): 123–144. doi:10.1002/mpr.1495. PMID 26395198. 
  3. ^ Larson, R.; Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1983). "The experience sampling method". New Directions for Methodology of Social and Behavioral Science. 15: 41–56. 
  4. ^ Hektner, J.M., Schmidt, J.A., Csikszentmihalyi, M. (Eds.). (2006). Experience Sampling Method: Measuring the Quality of Everyday Life. Sage Publications, Inc. ISBN 978-1-4129-2557-0
  5. ^ van der Krieke, L; Blaauw, FJ; Emerencia, AC; Schenk, HM; Slaets, JP; Bos, EH; de Jonge, P; Jeronimus, BF (2016). "Temporal Dynamics of Health and Well-Being: A Crowdsourcing Approach to Momentary Assessments and Automated Generation of Personalized Feedback (2016)". Psychosomatic Medicine: 1. doi:10.1097/PSY.0000000000000378. PMID 27551988. 
  6. ^ Runyan, J. D.; Steenbergh, T. A.; Bainbridge, C.; Daugherty, D. A.; Oke, L.; Fry, B. N. (2013). "A smartphone ecological momentary assessment/intervention "app" for collecting real-time data and promoting self-awareness". PLOS ONE. 8: e71325. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071325. 
  7. ^ Wiebe, Douglas J.; Nance, Michael L.; Houseknecht, Eileen; Grady, Matthew F.; Otto, Nicole; Sandsmark, Danielle K.; Master, Christina L. "Ecologic Momentary Assessment to Accomplish Real-Time Capture of Symptom Progression and the Physical and Cognitive Activities of Patients Daily Following Concussion". JAMA Pediatrics. 170: 1108. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.1979. 
  8. ^ Hofmann, W., & Patel, P. V. (2015). SurveySignal: A convenient solution for experience sampling research using participants’ own smartphones. Social Science Computer Review, 33, 235-253. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0894439314525117
  9. ^ http://personal.lse.ac.uk/mackerro/happy_natural_envs.pdf
  10. ^ Conner, T. S. (2013, May). Experience sampling and ecological momentary assessment with mobile phones. Retrieved from http://www.otago.ac.nz/psychology/otago047475.pdf
  11. ^ as available through, e.g., F-Droid catalogue
  12. ^ http://www.expimetrics.com
  13. ^ Blaauw; et al. (2016). "Let's get Physiqual - an intuitive and generic method to combine sensor technology with ecological momentary assessments". Journal of Biomedical Informatics. 63: 141–149. doi:10.1016/j.jbi.2016.08.001. PMID 27498066. 
  14. ^ https://www.movisens.com/de/interactive-ambulatory-assessment-project/