The Sounds of Social Life: Conducting Behavioral Observation Research in the Real-World - Professor Matthias Mehl

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Title: The Sounds of Social Life: Conducting Behavioral Observation Research in the Real-World
Speaker: Professor Matthias Mehl
Time: 1-2PM, Tuesday 19 Nov
Location: Latham Theatre (Room 102 Redmond Barry Building, University of Melbourne)
How much time do we spend talking? Or laughing? Or arguing with others? How often do we show gratitude or express empathy? These seemingly trivial questions are important because they illustrate how little is known about our everyday social interactions. Over the last 20 years, I have developed and validated the Electronically Activated Recorder or EAR, an ecological momentary assessment tool that can track people’s naturally occurring (acoustic) social lives. Technically, the EAR is a digital audio recorder that intermittently records snippets of ambient sounds while participants go about their normal lives. Conceptually, it is a naturalistic observation sampling method that produces an acoustic log of a person’s day as it unfolds. With the EAR, we can begin to study how subtle yet objective (in the sense of observable) aspects of people’s daily social interactions are related to important psychological processes such as personality, well-being, and health. In this talk I will give an overview of the EAR method and the research we have done with it.
Professor Mehl is a social/personality and health psychologist. He joined the faculty of the University of Arizona's Psychology Department in 2004 where he is now a tenured Professor. He also holds appointments in the Department of Communication, the Division of Family Studies and Human Development, the Evelyn McKnight Brain Institute, the Institute on Place, Wellbeing, and Performance, and the Arizona Cancer Center. In his research, he uses real-world assessment methods to study psychological processes in daily life and has helped pioneer novel methods of ecological data collection. One of these methods involves the unobtrusive sampling of ambient sounds via a mobile recording device called the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR).