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Keywords:

  • observation methods;
  • momentary time sampling;
  • partial interval recording;
  • measurement error

We compared the accuracy of momentary time sampling (MTS) and partial interval recording (PIR) in estimating both absolute behavioral levels and relative change. A computer randomly generated runs of pseudobehavior varying in duration and rate and simulated MTS and PIR of each run. Results indicated that when estimating absolute behavioral levels, duration rather than rate should be used as the dependent measure, and MTS is more accurate than PIR. In contrast, PIR is the more sensitive method for detecting relative changes in behavioral levels, although, at high rates, PIR tends to underestimate the degree of change.