Investigating associations between changes in mobile phone use and emotions using the experience sampling method: Pilot study

Suzanne Roggeveen*, Jim Van Os, Kelly Bemelmans, Mikal Van Poll, Richel Lousberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: The use of mobile phones has become, especially for young people, an integrated part of everyday life. Using the experience sampling method (ESM) may provide further insight on the association between mobile phone use and mental health.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to examine associations between mobile phone use and subtle changes in mental state.

METHODS: The ESM-based PsyMate app was installed on the mobile phones of 2 healthy 20-year-old participants. Over a period of 3 months, participants rated their mental states at 10 semirandom moments in the flow of daily life. Each assessment included present state emotions, environmental circumstances, and phone use.

RESULTS: Multilevel regression analyses indicated that an increase in mobile phone use was associated with a small increase in negative affect (particularly feeling bored and feeling lonely; P<.001) and small decreases in positive affect (P=.002) and concentration (P=.001). Treating the data as 2 separate N=1 studies revealed that the association with negative affect was present in both participants, whereas the associations with positive affect and concentration were evident in only 1 of the 2 participants.

CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study suggests that mobile phone use may be associated with person-specific and group-level changes in emotional state. A larger study is required to study these associations, possible causality, and factors driving underlying heterogeneity in the pattern of associations.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT03221985; (archived by WebCite at

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12
Pages (from-to)e12
JournalJMIR formative research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2018


  • Affect
  • Concentration
  • Emotions
  • Experience sampling method
  • Mobile phone


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