Ambulatory Activity Monitoring Progress in Measurement of Activity, Posture, and Specific Motion Patterns in Daily Life

Hans Bussmann, UW Ebner-Priemer, J Fahrenberg

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77 Citations (Scopus)


Behavior is central to psychology in almost any definition. Although observable activity is a core aspect of behavior, assessment strategies have tended to focus on emotional, cognitive, or physiological responses. When physical activity is assessed, it is done so mostly with questionnaires. Converging evidence of only a moderate association between self-reports of physical activity and objectively measured physical activity does raise questions about the validity of these self-reports. Ambulatory activity monitoring, defined as the measurement strategy to assess physical activity, posture, and movement patterns continuously in everyday life, has made major advances over the last decade and has considerable potential for further application in the assessment of observable activity, a core aspect of behavior. With new piezoresistive sensors and advanced computer algorithms, the objective measurement of physical activity, posture, and movement is much more easily achieved and measurement precision has improved tremendously. With this overview, we introduce to the reader some recent developments in ambulatory activity monitoring. We will elucidate the discrepancies between objective and subjective reports of activity, outline recent methodological developments, and offer the reader a framework for developing insight into the state of the art in ambulatory activity-monitoring technology, discuss methodological aspects of time-based design and psychometric properties, and demonstrate recent applications. Although not yet main stream, ambulatory activity monitoring - especially in combination with the simultaneous assessment of emotions, mood, or physiological variables - provides a comprehensive methodology for psychology because of its suitability for explaining behavior in context.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)142-152
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Psychologist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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