From April 17-23, Methods Lab Data Scientist Roland Toth spent a week at the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) at Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. This flash visiting researcher stay was financed and took place in the context of their project Youth in Transition in which they collected data every year for four years in a representative sample of the Spanish population. These data include various information on smartphone use, smartphone pervasiveness, and psychological traits.
Together with the researchers Aurelio Fernández, Javier García-Manglano, and Pedro de la Rosa, Roland wrote a first draft of a research article using these data. As mobile media use is typically measured using indicators of use quantity (duration and frequency) alone, the paper deals with the question whether qualitative dimensions of mobile media use should be involved in its measurement, too. Specifically, the researchers are investigating the role of gratification variety (e.g., for information, social contact, or escapism) and situation variety (e.g., while in a meeting, while watching a movie, or while eating). Both represent defining characteristics of mobile media like the smartphone, as we typically use them for various purposes, anytime, and anywhere. For conceptual validation, the researchers examine whether these two qualitative dimensions contribute substantially to predicting the concept of mobile vigilance – the constant salience of mobile media devices and an urge to monitor and remain reactive to them. As such vigilance is tied to mobile media use per definition and emerged in close alignment to its development, it is bound to be associated with smartphone use. In other words: If gratification and situation of smartphone use can explain a share of mobile vigilance that remains unexplained by the quantity of smartphone use, this indicates that both dimensions are substantial to the measurement of mobile media use. The researchers are currently finalizing the article.
Inviting Roland for this stay was a generous gesture of ICS and the researchers and the institute were very welcoming and engaged in the project during his stay. Aside from the productive cooperation, our colleague was delighted with the beautiful campus and the equally charming city of Pamplona (and Donostia-San Sebastián), where spring had actually begun already. We hope that the article will be published successfully and that the cooperation between ICS at Universidad de Navarra and the Methods Lab of the Weizenbaum Institute will continue in future projects!