Phone app helps scientists gauge how you feel about yourself


A SMARTPHONE app has been developed by behavioural scientists to record how people’s perceptions of themselves vary from day to day.

The program will give researchers a better understanding of how people spend their time each day, and how they feel about themselves going about their daily routine.

The app for Android phones prompts participants twice a day for eight days to rate how they’re feeling and to indicate who they are with, where they are and what they’re doing.


The app has been designed for use on Android phones  Photo:John.Karakatsanis

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh, who developed The Daily Self app, hope their findings will help confirm whether it is the small things in life that have a larger impact on how we feel about ourselves than we realised

Before downloading the app, participants complete an online survey about their feelings and beliefs about themselves.

They will be asked what areas of life are important for their sense of achievement, whether they enjoy being the centre of attention, and if they are easily distracted. Their responses will give researchers a baseline for understanding how the participants view themselves and the world around them.

The study’s lead investigator, Dr Alison Lenton, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences said: “The data will give us an idea of how people’s sense of themselves changes on a day-to-day basis, which means we’ll have a better understanding of what constitutes ‘typical’ variation in self-related thoughts and feelings.”

“We already know that ‘the self’ is changeable, but most of the research to date has been done in the lab. We want to know just how variable the self is in everyday life.”

It is estimated that there are more than 32 million smartphones in the UK, a figure which is expected to double within three years.

Scientists have begun to take advantage of the expansion in smartphone technology to investigate human behaviour, and researchers say they can glean a lot from using apps to conduct research.

Dr Lenton adds “We’re at the forefront of psychological scientists using smartphone technology to collect data from people as they go about their daily lives. The questions we’re asking are not too dissimilar from services like FourSquare or Facebook, so people are used to stopping and reflecting on themselves.”

“We’re expecting that by using this innovative technology we’ll obtain a more complete picture of how people view themselves and, further, how their local environment and activities affect that view.”


If you are an Android smartphone user in the UK who is at least 18 years old and you would like to take part in this study, you can find out more at: