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date: 08 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The Experience Sampling Method (ESM) can improve our understanding of how psychopathological symptoms unfold over time in everyday life. We discuss major benefits of ESM by presenting selected studies involving (a) real-time assessment (i.e., assessments focusing on individuals' momentary states, experiences, or behaviors); (b) real-world assessments enhancing laboratory-to-life generalizability; (c) multiple assessments over time allowing the study of dynamic processes; (d) multimodal assessment integrating psychological, physiological, and behavioral data; (e) assessment of setting or context specificities allowing for context-sensitive analyses; and (f) the provision of immediate interactive feedback. Furthermore, we offer recommendations concerning design issues for ESM studies, namely with regard to (a) choosing a sampling strategy, (b) participants' burden, compliance, and reactivity, (c) hardware and software solutions, (d) mathematical procedures when analyzing ESM data, and (e) visualization of ESM data. Regardless of remaining challenges, ESM offers great potential in clinical psychology with its possible application as a therapeutic tool and by revealing a comprehensive and generalizable picture of patients' and research participants' symptomatology.

Keywords: Ambulatory assessment, ecological momentary assessment, experience sampling method, e-diary, clinical psychology, psychiatry

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