The Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR): A Method for the Naturalistic Observation of Daily Social Behavior

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Abstract

This article reviews the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) as an ambulatory ecological momentary assessment tool for the real-world observation of daily behavior. Technically, the EAR is an audio recorder that intermittently records snippets of ambient sounds while participants go about their lives. Conceptually, it is a naturalistic observation method that yields an acoustic log of a person’s day as it unfolds. The power of the EAR lies in unobtrusively collecting authentic real-life observational data. In preserving a high degree of naturalism at the level of the raw recordings, it resembles ethnographic methods; through its sampling and coding, it enables larger empirical studies. This article provides an overview of the EAR method; reviews its validity, utility, and limitations; and discusses it in the context of current developments in ambulatory assessment, specifically the emerging field of mobile sensing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-190
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

Keywords

  • ambulatory assessment
  • ecological momentary assessment
  • naturalistic observation
  • smartphone sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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