Investigating Psychological Questions with Sensor Data

For psychologists, sensor data are a highly interesting source for objectively measuring behaviour beyond the usual questionnaire studies. ZPID exchanges experiences with cooperation partners on how this relatively new data source can be used to answer exciting research questions.

Bernard Batinic (left) and Holger Steinmetz

Recently, Prof. Bernad Batinic from the Johannes Kepler University Linz was a guest at ZPID and gave a lecture on "Collection of sensor data in psychology" as part of the ZPID colloquium series. He presented various studies in which sensor data had been used. 

Among other things, he presented an observational study in which participants of a conference (after having given their consent) had been tracked with so-called "beacons" to investigate their movement and network behavior. Beyond these studies, Prof. Batinic discussed privacy issues and societal implications of the industry 4.0 development and the related development in the sensor data area beginning from "Alexa" to the "smart home".

Dr. Holger Steinmetz, head of the Big Data research unit at ZPID, also works with sensor data. In his opinion, the immense longitudinal resolution offers an unprecedented insight into the dynamics of behavior over time: "While other research disciplines have decades of experience with these 'intensive longitudinal data', these data pose challenges to psychology, especially with regard to the large number of measurement points and the expected nonlinear dynamics - that is, the unsystematic ups and downs of behavior. This longitudinal dimension of big data is an exciting field of application for psychological research.

The ZPID expansion of research unit big data is in progress. The overall goal of this area is to address methods and applications using big data in psychology.

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