iEAR App Records Conversations
2013-08-23 0:00

By Tia Ghose | LiveScience

Now Hear This: iEAR App Reveals Human Nature

When Jane Goodall did her famous studies of chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, in Tanzania, she spent hours unobtrusively watching the primates as they fished for termites, tickled each other and waged war. Her rich, detailed observations provided astonishing insights into the animals’ diets, social lives and basic natures.

Yet when it comes to humans, most psychology studies are a far cry from Goodall’s naturalistic observations.

"In the end, psychologists hardly ever observe human behavior — what they mostly do is give them questionnaires," said Matthias Mehl, a University of Arizona psychologist .

Mehl says he wants to change that.

He and his colleagues have developed a tool to better study humans in their natural environment. It started off as a clunky cassette recorder, but has become a sleek iPhone app called iEAR that unobtrusively records 30-second snippets of people’s conversations throughout the day.

People consent to being recorded, and can delete any snippets they find objectionable, then send the recordings to psychologists studying human interactions. (The iEAR app is free and available to anyone who wants to record their own conversations; only people who are in contact with researchers send in their data for analysis.)

Most people quickly forget about the recordings in their day-to-day moments, and few people delete any of their conversations, Mehl said.

The new method has allowed researchers to get an unprecedented look at how people act in real life.

Counterintuitive findings

Some of the researchers’ findings have been surprising.


Read the full article at:

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