EAGER: Developing an Application for Assessing Respondent Experiences of Their Surroundings in Real Time

Project Details


Residential segregation is an important reality for different demographic groups in the United States. Yet we do not know whether such segregation extends to the places where people go during the course of their daily lives. We also do not know how everyday travel to different neighborhoods affects individuals and groups in ways that might increase or diminish segregation. This research seeks to address these gaps by studying segregation in motion, throughout people?s daily routine activities in relation to neighborhood experiences. We ask three fundamental questions: (1) do the areas where people go during the course of their days vary demographically and by the type of neighborhood where they live?; (2) do the areas that different social groups go to during their days vary systematically in terms of their available resources and social diversity?; and (3) how do people?s experiences of the neighborhoods they go to, including how welcome they feel and how they perceive access to resources, vary by their race, ethnicity, economic status, and the type of neighborhood they live in?

To address these questions, we will implement and evaluate an app for smartphones to collect 'live' information on people's movement and neighborhood experiences as they happen. We will assess the feasibility of obtaining immediate explicit and implicit (nonconscious) measures of experiences in a place using the smartphone app. Pilot data will be collected for a small set of respondents. We will use these data to develop measures of mobile segregation and indicators of how people, in the moment, perceive their surroundings and opportunities in the places they go. Detailed evaluation of the app, its use in the field, and the ability to gain cooperation with the selected sample will allow us to determine whether the methods for collecting dynamic data during the course of everyday social life can be used in larger representative samples. Using cutting-edge mobile technology to collect such data will overcome the risk of recall biases in research that uses surveys or daily diaries to measure how people spend their time and experience their surroundings.

This research will have broad impacts in a several important ways. Obtaining data on how people explicitly and implicitly experience the places they visit, and how those experiences encourage or discourage them from going to certain locales, can help inform policy interventions that incentivize contact across demographic groups. The open source smartphone app developed in the course of this research will be shared with other researchers to advance knowledge on the connections between social, spatial, and cognitive processes and should have broad application beyond the specific study of social segregation in daily life.

Effective start/end date3/1/152/28/18


  • National Science Foundation: $51,847.00


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