Effect of experience sampling schedules on response rate and recall accuracy of objective self-reports

The Experience Sampling Method is widely used to collect human labelled data in the wild. Using this methodology, study participants repeatedly answer a set of questions, constructing a rich overview of the studied phenomena. One of the methodological decisions faced by researchers is deciding on the question scheduling. The literature defines three distinct schedule types: randomised, interval-based, or event-based (in our case, smartphone unlock). However, little evidence exists regarding the side-effects of these schedules on response rate and recall accuracy, and how they may bias study findings. We evaluate the effect of these three contingency configurations in a 3-week within-subjects study (N=20). Participants answered various objective questions regarding their phone usage, while we simultaneously establish a ground-truth through smartphone instrumentation. We find that scheduling questions on phone unlock yields a higher response rate and accuracy. Our study provides empirical evidence for the effects of notification scheduling on participant responses, and informs researchers who conduct experience sampling studies on smartphones.