A post hoc correction procedure for systematic errors in time-sampling duration estimates

  • Hoi K. Suen
  • Donald Ary


Numerous previous studies have shown that partial-interval sampling in direct observation systematically overestimates duration and underestimates frequency. Whole-interval sampling systematically underestimates both duration and frequency. This paper presents a post hoc method through which the systematic errors in duration estimates in partial-interval sampling and whole-interval sampling can be minimized.

Key words

systematic error behavioral observation observer accuracy time sampling duration estimate 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ary, D. (1984). Mathematical prediction of sampling component of behavior observation measurement error.Behavioral Assessment, 6, 221–228.Google Scholar
  2. Brulle, A. R., & Repp, A. C. (1984). An investigation of the accuracy of momentary time sampling procedures with time series data.British Journal of Psychology, 75, 481–485.Google Scholar
  3. Dunbar, R. (1976). Some aspects of research design and their implications in the observational study of behavior.Behaviour, 58, 79–98.Google Scholar
  4. Green, S. B., & Alverson, L. G. (1978). A comparison of indirect measures for long-duration behaviors.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 11, 530.Google Scholar
  5. Leger, D. (1977). An empirical evaluation of instantaneous and one-zero sampling of chimpanzee behavior.Primates, 18, 387–393.Google Scholar
  6. McDowell, E. (1973). Comparison of time-sampling and continuous recording techniques for observing developmental changes in caretaker and infant behaviors.Journal of Genetic Psychology, 123, 99–105.Google Scholar
  7. Milar, C., & Hawkins, R. (1976). Distorted results from the use of interval recording techniques. In T. Bringham, R. Hawkins, J. Scott, & T. McLaughlin (Eds.).Behaviour analysis in education: Self-control and reading (pp. 261–273). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.Google Scholar
  8. Murphy, G., & Goodall, E. (1980). Measurement error in direct observations: A comparison of common recording methods.Behavior Research & Therapy, 18, 147–150.Google Scholar
  9. Powell, J., Martindale, A., & Kulp, S. (1975). An evaluation of time-sample measure of behavior.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 8, 463–469.Google Scholar
  10. Powell, J., Martindale, D., Kulp, S., Martindale, A., & Bauman, R. (1977). Taking a closer look: Time sampling and measurement error.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 10, 325–332.Google Scholar
  11. Rhine, R. J., & Linville, A. (1980). Properties of one-zero scores in observational studies of primate social behavior: The effect of assumptions on empirical analysis.Primates, 21, 111–122.Google Scholar
  12. Sanson-Fisher, R., Poole, A., & Dunn, J. (1980). An empirical method for determining an appropriate interval length for recording behavior.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 13, 493–500.Google Scholar
  13. Simpson, M. J. A., & Simpson, A. E. (1977). One-zero and scan-methods for sampling behavior.Animal Behavior, 25, 726–731.Google Scholar
  14. Suen, H. K., & Ary, D. (1984). Variables influencing one-zero and instantaneous time sampling outcomes.Primates, 25, 89–94.Google Scholar
  15. Suen, H. K., & Ary, D. (1986). Poisson cumulative probabilities of systematic errors in single-subject and multiple-subject time sampling.Behavioral Assessment, 8, 155–169.Google Scholar
  16. Suomi, S. J., & Harlow, H. F. (1972). Social rehabilitation of isolate-reared monkeys.Developmental Psychology, 6, 487–496.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hoi K. Suen
    • 1
  • Donald Ary
    • 1
  1. 1.Northern Illinois UniversityDeKalb

Personalised recommendations