Stanford University

Smartphone sensing methods for studying behavior in everyday life

Harari, G. M., Müller, S. R., Aung, M. S. H., & Rentfrow, P. J. (2017) Smartphone sensing methods for studying behavior in everyday life, Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 18, 83-90.


Human behavior is the focus of many studies in the social, health, and behavioral sciences. Yet, few studies use behavioral observation methods to collect objective measures of behavior as it occurs in daily life, out in the real world — presumably the context of ultimate interest. Here, we provide a review of recent studies focused on measuring human behavior using smartphones and their embedded mobile sensors. To draw attention to current advances in the field of smartphone sensing, we describe the daily behaviors captured using these methods, which include movement behaviors (physical activity, mobility patterns), social behaviors (face-to-face encounters, computer-mediated communications), and other daily activities (non-mediated and mediated activities). We conclude by pointing to promising areas of future research for studies using Smartphone Sensing Methods (SSMs) in the behavioral sciences.