Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Advances in Human-Computer Interaction
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 815972, 10 pages
Research Article

Getting Real: A Naturalistic Methodology for Using Smartphones to Collect Mediated Communications

1Department of Psychology, Rice University, 6100 Main Street, MS-25, Houston, TX 77005, USA
2Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rice University, 6100 Main Street, MS-25, Houston, TX 77005, USA

Received 2 December 2011; Revised 16 March 2012; Accepted 9 April 2012

Academic Editor: Eva Cerezo

Copyright © 2012 Chad C. Tossell et al. 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.


This paper contributes an intentionally naturalistic methodology using smartphone logging technology to study communications in the wild. Smartphone logging can provide tremendous access to communications data from real environments. However, researchers must consider how it is employed to preserve naturalistic behaviors. Nine considerations are presented to this end. We also provide a description of a naturalistic logging approach that has been applied successfully to collecting mediated communications from iPhones. The methodology was designed to intentionally decrease reactivity and resulted in data that were more accurate than self-reports. Example analyses are also provided to show how data collected can be analyzed to establish empirical patterns and identify user differences. Smartphone logging technologies offer flexible capabilities to enhance access to real communications data, but methodologies employing these techniques must be designed appropriately to avoid provoking naturally occurring behaviors. Functionally, this methodology can be applied to establish empirical patterns and test specific hypotheses within the field of HCI research. Topically, this methodology can be applied to domains interested in understanding mediated communications such as mobile content and systems design, teamwork, and social networks.