An empirical analysis of the obtrusiveness of and participants' compliance with the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR)

Matthias R. Mehl, Shannon E. Holleran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

63 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this article, the authors provide an empirical analysis of the obtrusiveness of and participants' compliance with a relatively new psychological ambulatory assessment method, called the electronically activated recorder or EAR. The EAR is a modified portable audio-recorder that periodically records snippets of ambient sounds from participants' daily environments. In tracking moment-to-moment ambient sounds, the EAR yields an acoustic log of a person's day as it unfolds. As a naturalistic observation sampling method, it provides an observer's account of daily life and is optimized for the assessment of audible aspects of participants' naturally-occurring social behaviors and interactions. Measures of self-reported and behaviorally-assessed EAR obtrusiveness and compliance were analyzed in two samples. After an initial 2-h period of relative obtrusiveness, participants habituated to wearing the EAR and perceived it as fairly unobtrusive both in a short-term (2 days, N = 96) and a longer-term (10-11 days, N = 11) monitoring. Compliance with the method was high both during the short-term and longer-term monitoring. Somewhat reduced compliance was identified over the weekend; this effect appears to be specific to student populations. Important privacy and data confidentiality considerations around the EAR method are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-257
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychological Assessment
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 15 2007

Keywords

  • Ambulatory assessment
  • Behavioral observation
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Experience sampling
  • Naturalistic observation
  • Unobtrusive observation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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