Global positioning system technology (GPS) for psychological research: A test of convergent and nomological validity

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Frontiers in psychology

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Frontiers Media


University of Cape Town

The purpose of this paper is to examine the convergent and nomological validity of a GPS-based measure of daily activity, operationalized as Number of Places Visited (NPV). Relations among the GPS-based measure and two self-report measures of NPV, as well as relations among NPV and two factors made up of self-reported individual differences were examined. The first factor was composed of variables related to an Active Lifestyle (AL) (e.g., positive affect, extraversion…) and the second factor was composed of variables related to a Sedentary Lifestyle (SL) (e.g., depression, neuroticism…). NPV was measured over 4 days. This timeframe was made up of two week and two weekend days. A bi-variate analysis established one level of convergent validity and a Split-Plot GLM examined convergent validity, nomological validity, and alternative hypotheses related to constraints on activity throughout the week simultaneously. The first analysis revealed significant correlations among NPV measures- weekday, weekend, and the entire 4-day time period, supporting the convergent validity of the Diary-, Google Maps-, and GPS-NPV measures. Results from the second analysis, indicating non-significant mean differences in NPV regardless of method, also support this conclusion. We also found that AL is a statistically significant predictor of NPV no matter how NPV was measured. We did not find a statically significant relation among NPV and SL. These results permit us to infer that the GPS-based NPV measure has convergent and nomological validity.