Experience Sampling Method Applications to Communication Research Questions



The Experience Sampling Method (ESM) is a quasi-naturalistic method that involves signaling research subjects at random times throughout the day, often for a week or longer, and asking them to report on the nature and quality of their experience. The method has been applied to an increasing number of research problems in medicine, the social sciences, and communication. In this essay, the authors, who have developed the methodology over the past 20 years, reflect on some of the methods applications within communication studies. The ESM is contrasted with traditional questionnaire and diary methods, and its value in mapping behavior's ecological context and the nature of human experience is assessed. The authors suggest how the method can be applied to research problems in organizational settings, such as work and schools; with regard to mass and mediated communication; and to interpersonal, familial, and marital communication topics