Measuring daily life: Experience Sampling Method

What are we researching?

How can we promote the well-being of young people? How can employers contribute to a healthy work-life balance? What is an effective method to quit smoking? To answer these and other questions, researchers need more insight into how people function in their daily lives.

The objective of research using the Experience Sampling Method (ESM), also known as Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA), is to measure individuals' feelings, behaviors, and thoughts in real-life situations within their daily routines. This involves understanding how individuals respond to changes in their environment, sleep patterns, or stress levels. How does the effect of an intervention vary from person to person? By investigating what works for whom, researchers seek new solutions to these kinds of questions.

What is the Experience Sampling Method?

The Experience Sampling Method is a structured approach that allows researchers to track the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of participants throughout the day. For example, by using a smartphone, participants fill in how they are doing once or multiple times a day. Additionally, the location, movements, or heart rate of participants can be tracked at the same time. This combination of measurements provides data that is then used in research and in clinical practice (e.g., in the treatment of depression).

Why do we use this research method?

By conducting ESM research, scientists at Erasmus University Rotterdam have gained many scientific insights in various research areas such as workplace happiness, smoking, parenting of teenagers, self-control, and alcohol use. Monitoring feelings, thoughts, and behavior in daily life is an effective component of psychological treatments and prevention programs. To develop programs that promote health and well-being, researchers from Erasmus University Rotterdam collaborate with researchers from TU Delft and Erasmus MC, as well as with patients, young people, families, professionals, and other societal parties.

Sharing knowledge: Rotterdam ESM Group

The use of the Experience Sampling Method creates new connections between scientific disciplines. Tracking people in real life also bridges the gap between science (how do people function?) and solutions (how can we promote healthy behavior and well-being in daily life?).

Experience Sampling Method (ESM) is a new and fairly complex research method, creating a need to share knowledge and expertise among researchers. Researchers collaborate to address societal issues. Scientists from Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus MC, and TU Delft share their knowledge and expertise in the Rotterdam ESM Group. For more information about the Rotterdam ESM Group, contact Petra Olsthoorn or follow the Rotterdam ESM Group on LinkedIn.

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