Palm or Cell? Comparing Personal Digital Assistants and Cell Phones for Experience Sampling Research

Chris J. Burgin, Paul J. Silvia, Kari M. Eddington, Thomas R. Kwapil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Personal digital assistants (PDA), particularly Palm Pilots, are popular data collection devices in experience sampling research. The declining availability of such devices, however, has prompted researchers to explore alternative technologies for signaling participants and collecting responses. The present research considers interactive voice response (IVR) methods, which can deliver questions and collect data using common cell phones. Participants completed an experience sampling study using either a PDA (n = 428) or a cell phone under three different conditions (IVR condition n = 98; IVR Callback condition n = 93; IVR Callback Comeback condition n = 94). We found that response rates were higher when people used PDAs (69%) than when they used their cell phones (IVR condition = 51%), but response rates increased when people could call back within a few minutes of missing a signal (IVR Callback condition = 58%) and had a face-to-face meeting with a researcher midweek (IVR Callback Comeback = 64%). The daily life ratings were similar across the conditions. The findings are encouraging for researchers interested in using IVR cell phone methods for ecological momentary assessment, but more work is needed to develop procedures or incentives that increase response rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-251
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science Computer Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • ecological momentary assessment
  • experience sampling
  • interactive voice response
  • personal digital assistants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Law


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