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The ecology of adolescent activity and experience

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Twenty-five adolescents reported their daily activities and the quality of their experiences for a total of 753 times during a normal week, in response to random beeps transmitted by an electronic paging device. In this sample adolescents were found to spend most of their time either in conversation with peers or in watching television. Negative affects were prevalent in most activities involving socialization into adult roles. Television viewing appears to be an affectless state associated with deviant behavior and antisocial personality traits. The research suggests the importance of a systemic approach which studies persons' activities and experiences in an ecological context. The experiential sampling method described in this paper provides a tool for collecting such systemic data.

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The research reported herein was partially funded through PHS Grant 5-R01MH-22883-03.

Received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Latest books includeBeyond Boredom and Anxiety (1975), dealing with the experience of enjoyment, andThe Creative Vision (1976), about problem finding in art.

Current interests are problems of juvenile delinquency and aging.

Received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Research interests include the sociology of science and the role of women.

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Csikszentmihalyi, M., Larson, R. & Prescott, S. The ecology of adolescent activity and experience. J Youth Adolescence 6, 281–294 (1977).

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