With the advent of the World Wide Web, the smartphone and the Internet of Things, not only society but also the sciences are rapidly changing. In particular, the social sciences can profit from these digital developments, because now scientists have the power to study real-life human behavior via smartphones and other devices connected to the Internet of Things on a large-scale level. Although this sounds easy, scientists often face the problem that no practicable solution exists to participate in such a new scientific movement, due to a lack of an interdisciplinary network. If so, the development time of a new product, such as a smartphone application to get insights into human behavior takes an enormous amount of time and resources. Given this problem, the present work presents an easy way to use a smartphone application, which can be applied by social scientists to study a large range of scientific questions. The application provides measurements of variables via tracking smartphone–use patterns, such as call behavior, application use (e.g., social media), GPS and many others. In addition, the presented Android-based smartphone application, called Insights
, can also be used to administer self-report questionnaires for conducting experience sampling and to search for co-variations between smartphone usage/smartphone data and self-report data. Of importance, the present work gives a detailed overview on how to conduct a study using an application such as Insights
, starting from designing the study, installing the application to analyzing the data. In the present work, server requirements and privacy issues are also discussed. Furthermore, first validation data from personality psychology are presented. Such validation data are important in establishing trust in the applied technology to track behavior. In sum, the aim of the present work is (i) to provide interested scientists a short overview on how to conduct a study with smartphone app tracking technology, (ii) to present the features of the designed smartphone application and (iii) to demonstrate its validity with a proof of concept study, hence correlating smartphone usage with personality measures.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited