Thoughts on experience sampling and I/O Psychology

Promoting Well-Being and Resilience Amidst Global Disruption

Louis Tay

The COVID-19 pandemic has left employees, students, families, communities scrambling. None of us are untouched by its rampant, swift, and widespread reach.

As nations and organizations around the world seek to find medical treatments for COVID-19, implementation of new regulations leading to school closures, travel restrictions, and social distancing have created new issues that social behavioral scientists are called on to collaboratively address. It is imperative as a scientific community that we apply our knowledge, research, and expertise to promote well-being and resilience amidst a time of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety. Not as an intellectual or academic exercise, but as an inherently human responsibility.


Using Experience Sampling for Well-Being Research

By Dr. Ed Diener

In doing research on well-being, researchers tend to study who are happy and who are not. Experience sampling allowed us to ask a whole new set of questions, such as: When are people happy? In what situations are people happy? Under what conditions do people thrive? Experience sampling enabled us to look at the emotion variations within people, the patterns of emotions across time and days, and the situational elements (e.g., where are they, who are they with, what are they doing) that play a role in these variations. Beyond doing research on well-being and emotions, experience sampling allowed us to analyze how much people were involved in various types of activities (e.g., studying, sports), and what they were thinking and feeling when they were performing these activities. This type of precise and in-the-moment insight allowed us to gain a rich tapestry of well-being. This type of research and level of insight has applications in employee engagement, corporate wellness, research and strategy firms, and beyond.


Differences between Experience Sampling Methodology (ESM) and Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)

By Dr. Louis Tay

Researchers often use the terms ESM and EMA interchangeably, referring to studies where survey data (and other types of data) are collected on multiple occasions within the day and over time. However, there are also subtle, if not substantial, differences when we examine the historical motivations behind ESM and EMA.

To aid researchers, I am providing a summary Table seen above which organizes and delineates the differences between ESM and EMA.


The Experience Sampling Method (ESM) in the Social Sciences

By Dr. Louis Tay

The Experience Sampling Method (ESM) was introduced in the late 1970s by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi and colleagues [1]. It is a systematic approach for capturing experiences and activities of individuals in their ecological context. The ESM was groundbreaking. Social scientists have since recognized the importance of the ESM because much of what makes scientific principles generalizable and applicable is through examining and evaluating it in our day-to-day lives.


Best Practices for Experience Sampling Methodology

By Dr. Louis Tay

Fields across academia, employee engagement, customer experience, product innovation, healthcare, and beyond are all trending toward understanding the everyday experiences of people. Literature on capturing experience data, or Experience Sampling Methodology (ESM), has grown exponentially over the past years. The volume of information out there today can be overwhelming! There are key questions that should be considered when considering experience sampling research:

  • What are the practical issues and considerations when conducting an ESM or EMA study?
  • What are some of the trends in ESM and EMA?
  • How should one analyze ESM and EMA data?
  • How can platforms, such as ExpiWell, be used to implement an ESM or EMA study?
  • What is the history of Experience Sampling Methodology (ESM) or Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)?

In this video webinar, I provide answers to all these key questions and more. The goal is to show how to effectively apply ESM and EMA and generate more meaningful insights!

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Video by Tim Williams