Social Indicators Research

, Volume 116, Issue 1, pp 255–267 | Cite as

Review of the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM)

  • Ed Diener
  • Louis Tay


The Day Reconstruction Method (DRM) for assessing daily experience and subjective well-being is reviewed. The DRM is a promising method as it assesses feelings within situations and activities, and therefore goes beyond asking who is happy to asking when they are happy. The technique might be less burdensome on respondents than experience-sampling, and might reduce memory biases that are inherent in global recall of feelings. However, evidence for the validity and reliability of the DRM is limited and is not entirely supportive. Research is needed on the psychometrics of the DRM, for example by comparing it to mobile phone assessments and other forms of experience-sampling, as well as to global reports of feelings in situations. Conceptual issues with computing overall subjective well-being by weighting a respondent’s activity scores by the time spent in them are discussed. Despite the promises of the DRM, the many unresolved issues with it and the alternative of using on-line electronic experience-sampling techniques suggest that more research is needed before the value of the DRM is established.


Subjective well-being Happiness Affect Measurement Day Reconstruction Method Validity Reliability Ecological momentary assessment Experience sampling 


  1. Atz, U. (2012). Evaluating experience sampling of stress in a single-subject research design. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. doi: 10.1007/s00779-012-0512-7.
  2. Benjamin, D. J., Heffetz, O., Kimball, M. S., & Szembrot, N. (2012). Beyond happiness and satisfaction: Toward well-being indices based on stated preference. NBER Working Paper Number w18374. Also available at SSRN:
  3. Bylsma, L. M., Taylor-Clift, A., & Rottenberg, J. (2011). Emotional reactivity to daily events in major and minor depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 120, 155–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cacioppo, J. T., & Bernston, G. G. (1994). Relationship between attitudes and evaluative space: A critical review, with emphasis on the separability of positive and negative substrates. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 401–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Courvoisier, D. S., Eid, M., & Lischetzke, T. (2012). Compliance to a cell-phone-based ecological momentary assessment study: The effect of time and personality characteristics. Psychological Assessment, 24, 713–720.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Courvoisier, D. S., Eid, M., Lischetzke, T., & Schreiber, W. H. (2010). Psychometric properties of a computerized mobile phone method for assessing mood in daily life. Emotion, 10, 115–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  8. Diener, E., Fujita, F., Tay, L., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2011). Purpose, mood, and pleasure in predicting satisfaction judgments. Social Indicators Research, 105, 333–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Diener, E., Inglehart, R., & Tay, L. (2012). The validity of life satisfaction measures. Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s11205-012-0076-y.
  10. Diener, E., Ng, W., & Tov, W. (2009). Balance in life and declining marginal utility of diverse resources. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 3, 277–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dockray, S., Grant, N., Stone, A. A., Kahneman, D., Wardle, J., & Steptoe, A. (2010). A comparison of affect ratings obtained with ecological momentary assessment and the day reconstruction method. Social Indicators Research, 99, 269–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Edwards, J. R. (2001). Ten difference score myths. Organizational Research Methods, 4, 265–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fredrickson, B. L., & Kahneman, D. (1993). Duration neglect in retrospective evaluations of affective episodes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 45–55.Google Scholar
  14. Grondin, S. (2001). From physical time to the first and second moments of psychological time. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 22–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grube, A., Schroer, J., Hentzschel, C., & Hertel, G. (2008). The event reconstruction method: An efficient measure of experience-based job satisfaction. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 81, 669–689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kahneman, D. (1999). Objective happiness. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 3–25). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  17. Kahneman, D., Krueger, A. B., Schkade, D. A., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. A. (2004). A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: The day reconstruction method. Science, 1776, 1776–1780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kahneman, D., Krueger, A. B., Schkade, D. A., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. A. (2006). Would you be happier if you were richer? A focusing illusion. Science, 312, 1908–1912.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kahneman, D., & Riis, J. (2005). Living, and thinking about it: Two perspectives on life. In F. Huppert, N. Baylis, & B. Keverne (Eds.), The science of well-being (pp. 285–304). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kahneman, D., Schkade, D. A., Fischler, C., Krueger, A. B., & Krilla, A. (2010). The structure of well-being in two cities: Life satisfaction and experienced happiness in Columbus, Ohio; and Rennes, France. In E. Diener, J. F. Helliwell, & D. Kahneman (Eds.), International differences in well-being. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Knabe, A., Rätzel, S., Schöb, R., & Weimann, J. (2010). Dissatisfied with life but having a good day: Time-use and wellbeing of the unemployed. Economic Journal, 120, 867–889.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Krueger, A. B., & Schkade, D. A. (2008). The reliability of subjective well-being measures. Journal of Public Economics, 92, 1833–1845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Metcalfe, J., & Mischel, W. (1999). A hot/cool system analysis of delay of gratification: Dynamics of willpower. Psychological Review, 106, 3–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Muchinsky, P. M. (1996). The correction for attenuation. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 56, 63–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Oishi, S., Kurtz, J. L., Miao, F. F., Park, J., & Whitchurch, E. (2011). The role of familiarity in daily well-being: Developmental and cultural variation. Developmental Psychology, 47, 1750–1756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Oishi, S., Whitchurch, E., Miao, F., Kurtz, J., & Park, J. (2009). “Would I be happier if I moved?” Retirement status and cultural variations in the anticipated and actual levels of happiness. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 437–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Peter, P. J., Churchill, G. A. J., & Brown, T. J. (1993). Caution in the use of difference scores in consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research, 19, 655–662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Raento, M., Oulasvirta, A., & Eagle, N. (2009). Smartphones: An emerging tool for social scientists. Sociological Methods and Research, 37, 426–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Redelmeier, D. A., Katz, J., & Kahneman, D. (2003). Memories of colonoscopy: A randomized trial. Pain, 104, 187–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Scollon, C. N., Kim-Prieto, C., & Diener, E. (2003). Experience sampling: Promises and pitfalls, strengths and weaknesses. Journal of Happiness Studies, 4, 5–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Shiffman, S., Stone, A. A., & Hufford, M. R. (2008). Ecological momentary assessment. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 4, 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stone, A. A., Schwartz, J. E., Schwarz, N., Schkade, D., Krueger, A., & Kahneman, D. (2006). A population approach to the study of emotion: Diurnal rhythms of a working day examined with the day reconstruction method. Emotion, 6, 139–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Thomas, D. L., & Diener, E. (1990). Memory accuracy in the recall of emotions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 291–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. White, M. P., & Dolan, P. (2009). Accounting for the richness of daily activities. Psychological Science, 20, 1000–1008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zimbardo, P. G., & Boyd, J. N. (1999). Putting time in perspective: A valid, reliable individual-differences metric. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1271–1288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IllinoisChampaignUSA
  2. 2.The Gallup OrganizationLincolnUSA
  3. 3.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

Personalised recommendations