Measuring daily life

Girl with glasses on her phone
Een persoon die wat opschrijft
Marcos Paulo Prado

What are we researching?

In some situations, researchers want to gain insight into how people feel, behave and think in 'real' situations in their daily lives. This can be done, for example, by completing an (online) diary or with the Experience Sampling Method [ESM]. In this case, participants fill in, one or more times each day, how they are doing, for example, with a smartphone app. Sometimes researchers measure daily life with wearables such as smartwatches. This type of time series data is called Intensive Longitudinal Data (or ILD).

Why are we doing this research?

When people track their daily lives on an app and by continuously monitoring, scientists can better understand how people behave and feel in natural settings, such as at work, home or school.

How are we doing this research?

Using this data, we can apply new analysis methods and answer new research questions about how individuals function. For example: How does a patient respond to changes in the environment, sleep or stress? How does the effect of an intervention vary from person to person? In how many families is parental warmth associated with more positive emotions of the child, and is this true for each family?

How does our research make an impact?

The use of these research methods leads to new connections between scientific disciplines. At ESSB, many researchers work together to excel at this. Following people in real life also bridges the gap between science (how do people function?) and solutions (how can we promote healthy behaviours and well-being in everyday life?)

Contribution to science and society

Scientists at the EUR have already gained many scientific insights with diary studies and ESM research in various research areas such as job satisfaction, smoking, adolescent education, self-control, and alcohol use. Tracking feelings, thoughts and behaviours in daily life have proven to be an effective component of psychological treatment and prevention programs. To develop programs that promote health and well-being, researchers at Erasmus University Rotterdam are working with the Delft University of Technology and the Erasmus Medical Center, as well as with patients, adolescents, families, professionals and other end-users and societal stakeholders. In 2021, for example, the Grow It! app, a unique app developed for and by young people, was released. The app monitors daily emotions and can prevent emotional problems.

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