The PhoneStudy Project
Communicating with friends, shopping online and listening to music - the smartphone has become a personal companion in our everyday lives. With every use, we produce data that provide information about ourselves. This data is very valuable for science because it objectively reflects everyday behavior and experience. Thus, smartphones enable objective research that is close to everyday life and goes beyond the tried and tested laboratory experiments and survey methods.
This is the goal we are pursuing as part of our PhoneStudy research project at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU). Through the PhoneStudy research app we developed, we integrate research into everyday life and thus establish the smartphone as a mobile and privacy-friendly research lab.This is the goal we are pursuing as part of our PhoneStudy research project at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU). Through the PhoneStudy research app we developed, we integrate research into everyday life and thus establish the smartphone as a mobile and privacy-friendly research lab.
The heart of the study
The heart of our project is the PhoneStudy App, which is constantly being developed by our interdisciplinary team.
We provide this Android-based app to our test persons for the duration of time-limited studies in order to collect objective data on smartphone use and to use these data to answer current research questions.
Why this project makes an important contribution
After the media outcry triggered by companies like Cambridge Analytica or the manipulation of people based on their automatically generated personality profiles (e.g. through Facebook data), we are committed to objective, transparent and public research.
In our view, the use of novel types of data and research based on them, such as on personality, should be explored transparently and without commercial interests .
Novel technologies are certainly associated with risks, which can become dangers for those involved, especially when coupled with commercial interests. Possible negative effects range from targeted advertising strategies to active manipulation of future behavior through microtargeting. Even if some of these possibilities have so far presumably been used primarily as a marketing strategy without proof of effect, there is nevertheless a need for research into such technologies by independent scientists.
This is the role that we, the PhoneStudy project team, take on and thus make our contribution to more scientific transparency in the work with novel user data.