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Validity and Reliability of the Experience-Sampling Method

Abstract

To understand the dynamics of mental health, it is essential to develop measures for the frequency and the patterning of mental processes in every-day-life situations. The Experience-Sampling Method (ESM) is an attempt to provide a valid instrument to describe variations in self-reports of mental processes. It can be used to obtain empirical data on the following types of variables: (a) frequency and patterning of daily activity, social interaction, and changes in location; (b) frequency, intensity, and patterning of psychological states, i.e., emotional, cognitive, and conative dimensions of experience; (c) frequency and patterning of thoughts, including quality and intensity of thought disturbance. The article reviews practical and methodological issues of the ESM and presents evidence for its short-and long-term reliability when used as an instrument for assessing the variables outlined above.

Keywords

  • Psychological State
  • Binge Eating
  • Signaling Device
  • Person File
  • Time Budget Activity

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.

This study was supported by the U.S. Public Health Service, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Spencer Foundation. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 175(9), 526–536. Copyright © 1987 Wolters Kluwer Health—Republished with permission.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Marta Wenger and colleagues of the Collaborative Study of Children with Special Needs at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston have used ESM with several samples of physically disabled children.

  2. 2.

    See footnote 1

  3. 3.

    Larson (1979) The significance of time alone in adolescents’ lives. Doctoral Dissertation, The University of Chicago.

  4. 4.

    Wells A (1985) Variations in self-esteem in the daily life of mothers, Doctoral Dissertion, The University of Chicago.

  5. 5.

    Hoover MD (1983) Individual differences in the relation of heart rate to self-reports. Doctoral Dissertation, The University of Chicago.

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Correspondence to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi .

Appendix: Experience-Sampling Form

Appendix: Experience-Sampling Form

Date:________Time Beeped:__________am/pm Time Filled Out__am/pm

As you were beeped…

What were you thinking about?___________________________________________________________

Where were you?______________________________________________________________________

What was the MAIN thing you were doing?_________________________________________________

What other things were you doing?________________________________________________________

WHY were you doing this particular activity?

(□) I had to (□) I wanted to do it (□) I had nothing else to do

  Not at all    Some what    Quite    Very
How well were you concentrating? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Was it hard to concentrate? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
How self-conscious were you? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Did you feel good about yourself? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Were you in control of the situation? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Were you living up to your own expectations? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Were you living up to expectations of others? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Describe your mood as you were beeped:

  Very Quite Some Neither Some Quite Very  
Alert 0 o . . o 0 Drowsy
Happy 0 o . . o 0 Sad
Irritable 0 o . . o 0 Cheerful
Strong 0 o . . o 0 Weak
Active 0 o . . o 0 Passive
Lonely 0 o . . o 0 Sociable
Ashamed 0 o . . o 0 Proud
Involved 0 o . . o 0 Detached
Excited 0 o . . o 0 Bored
Closed 0 o . . o 0 Open
Clear 0 o . . o 0 Confused
Tense 0 o . . o 0 Relaxed
Competitive 0 o . . o 0 Cooperative

Did you feel any physical discomfort as you were beeped:

Overall pain or discomfort none slight bothersome severe
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9  

Please specify:________________________________________________________

Who were you with?

(□) Alone (□) Friend(s) How many?
(□) Mother   ___________________________________
  Female (□) Male (□)
(□) Father (□) Strangers  
(□) Sister(s) or brother(s) (□) Other____________  

_________________________________________________________________________________

Indicate how you felt about your activity:

  low   high
Challenges of the activity 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Your skills in the activity 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
  not at all   very much
Was this activity important to you? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Was this activity important to others? 0 1 2 3 4 6 6 7 8 9
Were you succeeding at what you were doing? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Do you wish you had been doing something else? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Were you satisfied with how you were doing? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
How important was this activity in relation to your overall goals 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
If you had a choice
Who would you be with? ________________________________
What would you be doing?_______________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

Since you were last beeped has anything happened or have you done anything which could have affected the way you feel?

Nasty cracks, comments, etc. *****************

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Csikszentmihalyi, M., Larson, R. (2014). Validity and Reliability of the Experience-Sampling Method. In: Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9088-8_3

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