The Sensor-Based Physical Analogue Scale as a Novel Approach for Assessing Frequent and Fleeting Events: Proof of Concept

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

5 Citations (Scopus)


New technologies (e.g., smartphones) have made it easier to conduct Experience Sampling Method (ESM) studies and thereby collect longitudinal data in situ. However, limiting interruption burden (i.e., the strain of being pulled out of everyday life) remains a challenge, especially when assessments are frequent and/or must be made immediately after an event, such as when capturing the severity of clinical symptoms in everyday life. Here, we describe a wrist-worn microcomputer programmed with a Physical Analogue Scale (PAS) as a novel approach to ESM in everyday life. The PAS uses the position of a participant's forearm between flat and fully upright as a response scale like a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) uses continuous ratings on a horizontal line. We present data from two pilot studies (4-week field study and lab study) and data from a 2-week ESM study on social media ostracism (i.e., when one's social media message is ignored; N = 53 participants and 2,272 event- and time-based assessments) to demonstrate the feasibility of this novel approach for event- and time-based assessments, and highlight advantages of our approach. PAS angles were accurate and reliable, and VAS and PAS values were highly correlated. Furthermore, we replicated past research on cyber ostracism, by finding that being ignored resulted in significantly stronger feelings of being offended, which was more pronounced when ignored by a group compared to a single person. Furthermore, participants did not find it overly difficult to complete the assessments using the wearable and the PAS. We suggest that the PAS is a valid measurement procedure in order to assess fleeting and/or frequent micro-situations in everyday life. The source code and administration application are freely available.

Original languageEnglish
Article number538122
Pages (from-to)538122
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2020


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