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Using the Day Reconstruction Method - Same Results when Used at the End of the Day or on the Next Day?

  • Ludwigs, Kai1
  • Henning, Lena1
  • Arends, Lidia R.2
  • 1 Happiness Research Organisation, Düsseldorf, Germany , Düsseldorf (Germany)
  • 2 Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands , Rotterdam (Netherlands)
Published Article
International Journal of Community Well-Being
Springer International Publishing
Publication Date
Feb 08, 2019
DOI: 10.1007/s42413-019-00017-x
Springer Nature


The day reconstruction method (DRM; Kahneman et al. A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: The day reconstruction method. Science, 306, 1776–1780, 2004) constitutes a frequently used method aiming to capture everyday life and everyday feelings. Especially in the field of community well-being research this method can bring meaningful insights. In its original version and in most subsequent studies, respondents are asked to complete the DRM with respect to their previous day on the next day. Yet when asked, respondents prefer to work on the DRM in the evening of the same day, particularly in longitudinal studies where the motivation to complete the DRM proactively on one’s own is crucial. Consequently, it is important to consider respondents’ preferences about their favoured point in time to fill in the DRM. Thus, the question whether a flexible DRM usage that offers the freedom to work on the DRM in the evening of the same day or on the next day should arise. Reluctance in doing so is reasonable since research on differences in answering patterns between these two points in time is pending. The current study sheds light on this research question by comparing respondents’ happiness during the reconstructed episodes in both settings (same day vs. next day). A DRM smartphone application was used with a group collected from the Innovation Sample of the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP-IS). The results reveal that the point in time during which people fill in the DRM has no significant effect on respondent’s happiness ratings. In sum, although an experiment is needed to replicate our findings, our research suggests that researchers might consider (especially for longitudinal studies) to give participants free choice to do the DRM on the evening of the same day or on the next day if they want to reduce response burden in order to increase participation rates.

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