3 Types of Experience Sampling Questions

Experience Sampling Question Types

For experience sampling, you might ask questions a number of different ways. However, we might not know that certain types of questions have titles, and that you can ask certain questions in these ways. Further, some are helpful for asking questions in, and for, different situations. Let’s check them out:

1. Signal Contingent/ Variable time-based:

The first type of question is called signal contingent, or variable time-based. Basically, questions are asked throughout the day/time period at “semi-random” times with some kind of signal; the participant does not know when the signal is going to go off (Conner and Lehman, 2007).

Usually, this type of question is used when anticipating a question might be disadvantageous, such as for subjective experiences that happen constantly (i.e. mood).

2. Interval Contingent/Fixed time-based:

Participant answers questions at fixed times (i.e. 12:00pm and 2:00 pm every day [Conner and Lehman, 2007]; morning, afternoon, evening [Conner, 2015)]) with or without a reminder.

Interval contingent questions are useful for measuring constant things throughout the day- things that are not as “susceptible to recall bias”- and can be easily remembered (Conner and Lehman, 2007).

3. Event contingent:

This type of sampling involves the participant reporting on certain events as they happen. The researcher does not know when or how often the events will occur, and how often.

These questions are especially helpful for studying events that occur before and after an  event of interest.

Here’s a chart summarizing these our question types:

Type Definition Signal Reason
Signal Contingent/Variable time-based Participant answers questions at “semi-random” times. Yes Awareness of situational factors, etc. is disadvantageous.
Interval Contingent/ Fixed time-based Questions asked at certain times of day. Possibly Recall bias is probably not going to play a role. Regular or recurring events.
Event Contingent Participant reports when certain events occur. No Situational factors surrounding infrequent events.


Experience sampling has a number of options for asking questions: signal contingent, interval contingent, and event contingent (i.e. semi-random, specific time, and when something happens). Whichever you use, hopefully seeing these names and types of each question helps as you consider and plan future studies.


Conner, T. S. 2015. “Experience Sampling for Psychological Scientists.” Workshop presented at the Association for Psychological Science in New York City.

Conner, T. S. and Lehman, B. 2007. “Getting Started: Launching a Study in Daily Life” in The Handbook of Research Methods for Studying Daily Life ed. Mehl, M.R., and Conner, T.S. (Guilford Press: New York).

Hektner, Joel M., Schmidt, Jennifer A., Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. 2007. Experience Sampling Method: Measuring the Quality of Everyday Life. (SAGE Publications, Inc: Thousand Oaks).


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