ExperienceSampler: An Open-Source Scaffold for Building Smartphone Apps for Experience Sampling

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Abstract

Experience sampling methods allow researchers to examine phenomena in daily life and provide various advantages that complement traditional laboratory methods. However, existing experience sampling methods may be costly, require constant Internet connectivity, may not be designed specifically for experience sampling studies, or require a custom solution from a computer programming consultant. In this article, we present ExperienceSampler, an open-source scaffold for creating experience-sampling smartphone apps designed for Android and iOS devices. We designed ExperienceSampler to address the common barriers to using experience sampling methods. First, there is no cost to the user. Second, ExperienceSampler apps make use of local notifications to let participants know when to complete surveys and store the data locally until Internet connection is available. Third, our app scaffold was designed with experience sampling methodological issues in mind. We also demonstrate how researchers can easily customize ExperienceSampler even if they have no programming skills. Furthermore, we evaluate the utility of ExperienceSampler apps with results from one social psychological study conducted using ExperienceSampler (N = 168). Mean response rates averaged 84%, and the median response latency was 9 minutes. Taken together, ExperienceSampler creates cost-effective smartphone apps that can be easily customized by researchers to examine experiences in daily life.

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