Thursday, August 11, 2016

Workshop on Naturalistic Behavioural Science

On Wednesday 9th November, 2016, the Stirling Behavioural Science Centre will organise a workshop on conducting behavioural science research "in the wild". We aim to discuss how behavioural scientific concepts can be tested in a naturalistic environment in settings that are less artificial than labs or surveys. In particular, we aim to identify how smartphones and diary studies can be used to measure concepts such as preferences, personality, and well-being in everyday life. 

Please send an email to Leonhard Lades ( if you are interested in this topic and want to contribute to the workshop. We will also update this post with more information in the next weeks.

Themes of the workshop include, but are not limited to:

(1) Experience Sampling: Smartphones are used with increasing frequency in experience sampling studies in which people are signalled multiple times a day and asked to answer questions about their current feelings and behaviours. A strength of experience sampling is that the same individuals answer similar questions on multiple occasions which allows identifying intra-individual differences driven by factors such as time of the day, mood, locations, and many more contextual factors. This offers ample opportunities to measure and better understand fluctuations of preferences, personality, and well-being, as well as decision-making in real live.

(2) Diary studies: An alternative to smartphone studies are diary methods such as the Day Reconstruction Methodology (DRM). We plan to discuss pros and cons of diary studies compared to smartphone studies. When and why should we use diary studies and when should we use smartphone studies? 

(3) Experimentation on the Smartphone: While lab experiments benefit from a highly controlled context, many outcome variables and manipulations in the lab are rather artificial. Mood inductions, for example, are difficult to implement and it is not always clear whether the induced mood in the lab corresponds to a similar mood in the real world. By running experiments on the smartphone in peoples' real lives, one can elicit the effects of real moods on peoples' behaviour in the experiments. We will discuss, among other aspects, whether the reduction in control that goes along with experimentation in real life is warranted.

(4) Measurement as intervention: When using smartphones and diary studies as research tools, it is likely that we do not only measure, but also change participants' feelings and behaviours. How can we control or make use of this intervention-character of our measures? 

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