“Psyosphere”: A GPS Data-Analysing Tool for the Behavioural Sciences

Positioning technologies, such as GPS are widespread in society but are used only sparingly in behavioural science research, e.g., because processing positioning technology data can be cumbersome. The current work attempts to unlock positioning technology potential for behavioural science studies by developing and testing a research tool to analyse GPS tracks. This tool—psyosphere—is published as open-source software, and aims to extract behaviours from GPSs data that are more germane to behavioural research. Two field experiments were conducted to test application of the research tool. During these experiments, participants played a smuggling game, thereby either smuggling tokens representing illicit material past border guards or not. Results suggested that participants varied widely in variables, such as course and speed variability and distance from team members in response to the presence of border guards. Subsequent analyses showed that some of these GPS-derived behavioural variables could be linked to self-reported mental states, such as fear. Although more work needs to be done, the current study demonstrates that psyosphere may enable researchers to conduct behavioural experiments with positioning technology, outside of a laboratory setting.

Ziepert, B., de Vries, P. W., & Ufkes, E. G. (2021). “Psyosphere”: A GPS Data-Analysing Tool for the Behavioural Sciences. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.538529

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