Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 53–78 | Cite as

A Practical Guide to Experience-Sampling Procedures

  • Tamlin Conner Christensen
  • Lisa Feldman Barrett
  • Eliza Bliss-Moreau
  • Kirsten Lebo
  • Cynthia Kaschub


Experience-sampling is a powerful method for understanding a range of psychological phenomena as they occur in the daily lives of individuals. In this primer, we discuss the different techniques, equipment, and design options available to the experience-sampling researcher. We place special emphasis on computerized procedures and discuss the crucial social dynamic of the research team, which optimizes the success of experience-sampling procedures.


Public Health Research Team Social Psychology Powerful Method Computerize Procedure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bargh, J.A.: 1994, ‘The four horsemen of automacticity’, in R.S. Wyer and T.K. Srull (eds), Handbook of Social Cognition (Erlbaum, Hillside, NJ), pp. 1–40.Google Scholar
  2. Barrett, D.J. and L. Feldman Barrett: 2000, The Experience-Sampling Program (ESP). ( Scholar
  3. Bolger, N., A. Davis and E. Rafaeli: 2003, ‘Diary methods: Capturing life as it is lived’, Annual Review of Psychology 54, pp. 579–616.Google Scholar
  4. Bryk, A.S. and S.W. Raudenbush: 1992, Hierarchical Linear Models: Applications and Data Analysis Methods (Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, US).Google Scholar
  5. Chalmers, D.J.: 1996, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, Philosophy of Mind Series, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Conner Christensen, T., J.V. Wood and L. Feldman Barrett: (2003), ‘Remembering everyday events through the prism of self-esteem’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Volume 29(1), pp. 51–62.Google Scholar
  7. Csikszentmihalyi, H. and R. Larson, 1987, ‘Validity and reliability of the experiencesampling method’, Mental disorders in their natural settings: The application of time allocation and experience-sampling techniques in psychiatry, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 175(9), pp. 526–536 (special issue).Google Scholar
  8. Csikszentmihalyi, M. and R. Larson: 1992, ‘Validity and reliability of the experiencesampling method’, in M.W. deVries (eds), The Experience of Psychopathology: Investigating Mental Disorders in their Natural Settings (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK), pp. 43–57.Google Scholar
  9. de Vries, M., C. Dijkman-Caes and P. Delespaul: 1990, ‘The sampling of experience: A method of measuring the co-occurrence of anxiety and depression in daily life’, in J.D. Maser and C.R. Cloninger (eds), Comorbidity of Mood and Anxiety Disorders (American Psychiatric Press, Washington, DC), pp. 707–726.Google Scholar
  10. DePaulo, B.M., D.A. Kashy, S.E. Kirkendol, M.M. Wyer and J.A. Epstein: 1996, ‘Lying in everyday life’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 70(5), pp. 979–995.Google Scholar
  11. Delespaul, P.A.E.G.: 1992, ‘Technical note: Devices and time-sampling procedures’, in M.W. de Vries (ed.), The Experience of Psychopathology: Investigating Mental Disorders in their Natural Settings (Cambridge University Press, New York), xvii, pp. 363–373.Google Scholar
  12. Feldman, L.A.: 1995, ‘Valence focus and arousal focus: Individual differences in the structure of affective experience’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69, pp. 153–166.Google Scholar
  13. Feldman Barrett, L.: 1998, ‘Discrete emotions or dimensions? The role of valence focus and arousal focus’, Cognition and Emotion 12(4), pp. 579–599.Google Scholar
  14. Feldman Barrett, L.: 2003, ‘Feelings or words? Understanding the content in selfreport ratings of emotional experience’, Manuscript under review.Google Scholar
  15. Feldman Barrett, L. and D.J. Barrett: 2001, ‘An introduction to computerized experience sampling in psychology’, Social Science Computer Review 19(2), pp. 175–185.Google Scholar
  16. Gable, S.L., H.T. Reis and A.J. Elliot: 2000, ‘Behavioral activation and inhibition in everyday life’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78(6), pp. 1135–1149.Google Scholar
  17. Greenwald, A.G. and M.R. Banaji: 1995, ‘Implicit social cognition: attitudes, selfesteem, and stereotypes’, Psychological Review 102(1), pp. 4–27.Google Scholar
  18. Harrison, D.A. and M.E. McLaughlin: 1993, ‘Cognitive processes in self-report responses: Tests of item context effects in work attitude measures’, Journal of Applied Social Psychology 78, pp. 129–140.Google Scholar
  19. Hormuth, S.E.: 1986, ‘The sampling of experiences in situ’, Journal of Personality 54, pp. 262–293.Google Scholar
  20. Hurlburt, R.T.: 1997, ‘Randomly sampling thinking in the natural environment’, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 65, pp. 941–949.Google Scholar
  21. Kernis, M.H., D.P. Cornell, C.R. Sun, A. Berry and T. Harlow: 1993, ‘There's more to self-esteem than whether it is high or low: The importance of stability of selfesteem’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 65(6), pp. 1190–1204.Google Scholar
  22. Klein, S.B.: 2001, ‘A self to remember: A cognitive neuropsychological perspective on how self creates memory and memory creates self’, in C. Sedikides and M. Brewer (eds), Individual Self, Relational Self, Collective Self (Psychology Press, Philadelphia), pp. 25–46.Google Scholar
  23. Litt, M.D., N.L. Cooney and P. Morse: 1998, ‘Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) with alcoholics: Methodological problems and potential solutions’, Health Psychology 17, pp. 48–52.Google Scholar
  24. Nezlek, J.B.: 2001, ‘Multilevel random coefficient analyses of event and interval contingent data in social and personality psychology research’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 27, pp. 771–785.Google Scholar
  25. Nezlek, J.B. and S.L. Gable: 2001, ‘Depression as a moderator of relationships between positive daily events and day-to-day psychological adjustment’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 27(12), pp. 1692–1704.Google Scholar
  26. Nezlek, J.B., L. Wheeler and H.T. Reis: 1983, ‘Studies of social participation’, New Directions for Methodology of Social and Behavioral Science 15, pp. 57–73.Google Scholar
  27. Oishi, S. 2002, ‘The experiencing and remembering of well-being: A cross cultural analysis’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 28(10), pp. 1398–1406.Google Scholar
  28. Penner, L.A., S. Shiffman, J.A. Paty and B.A. Fritzsche: 1994, ‘Individual differences in intraperson variability in mood’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 66(4), pp. 712–721.Google Scholar
  29. Pietromonaco, P. and L. Feldman Barrett: 1997, ‘Working models of attachment and daily social interactions’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73(6), pp. 1409–1423.Google Scholar
  30. Pogue, D.: 1999, PalmPilot: The Ultimate Guide (2nd ed) (O'Reilly & Associates, Sebastopol, CA).Google Scholar
  31. Reis, H.T. and S.L. Gable: 2000, ‘Event sampling and other methods for studying daily experience’, in H.T. Reis and C.M. Judd (eds), Handbook of Research Methods in Social and Personality Psychology (Cambridge University Press, New York), pp. 190–222.Google Scholar
  32. Reis, H.T. and L. Wheeler: 1991, ‘Studying social interaction with the Rochester Interaction Record’, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 24, pp. 269–318.Google Scholar
  33. Robinson, M.D. and G.L. Clore: (2002), ‘Belief and feeling: Evidence for an accessibility model of emotional self-report’, Psychological Bulletin 128(6), pp. 934–960.Google Scholar
  34. Ross, M.: 1989, ‘Relation of implicit theories to the construction of personal histories’, Psychological Review 96, pp. 341–357.Google Scholar
  35. Schwartz, J.E., J. Neale, C. Marco. S.S. Shiffman and A.A. Stone: 1999, ‘Does trait coping exist? A momentary assessment approach to the evaluation of traits’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 77(4), pp. 360–369.Google Scholar
  36. Shiffman, S.: 2000, ‘Real-time self-report of momentary states in the natural environment: Computerized ecological momentary assessment’, in A.A. Stone, J.S. Turkkan, C.A. Cachrach, J.B. Jobe, H.S. Kurtzman and V.S. Cain (eds), The Science of Self-report: Implications for Research and Practice (Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ), pp. 277–296.Google Scholar
  37. Shiffman, S., J.A. Paty, M. Gnys, J.D. Kassel and C. Elash: 1995, ‘Nicotine withdrawal in chippers and regular smokers: Subjective and cognitive effects’, Health Psychology 14(4), pp. 301–309.Google Scholar
  38. Snijders, T. and R. Bosker: 1999, Multilevel Analysis: An Introduction to Basic and Advanced Multilevel Modeling (Sage Publishers, London).Google Scholar
  39. Snijders, T., R. Bosker and H. Guldemond: 1999, ‘The Power analysis IN Two-level designs (PINT) software’, Available at Scholar
  40. Stone, A., R. Kessler and J. Haythornthwaite: 1991, ‘Measuring daily events and experiences: Decisions for the researcher’, Journal of Personality 59, pp. 575–608.Google Scholar
  41. Stone, A.A. and S. Shiffman: 1994, ‘Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) in behavioral medicine’, Annals of Behavioral Medicine 16, pp. 199–202.Google Scholar
  42. Tulving, E.: 1985, ‘How many memory systems are there?’ American Psychologist 40(4), pp. 385–398.Google Scholar
  43. Wheeler, L. and H. Reis: 1991, ‘Self-recording of everyday life events: Origins, types, and uses’, Journal of Personality 59, pp. 339–354.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tamlin Conner Christensen
  • Lisa Feldman Barrett
    • 1
  • Eliza Bliss-Moreau
  • Kirsten Lebo
  • Cynthia Kaschub
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, McGuinn Hall 301Boston CollegeChestnut Hill

Personalised recommendations