Measuring self-regulation in everyday life: reliability and validity of smartphone-based experiments in alcohol use disorder

Publikation: Vorabdruck/Dokumentation/BerichtVorabdruck (Preprint)



Self-regulation, the ability to guide behavior according to one’s goals, plays an integral role in understanding loss of control over unwanted behaviors, for example in alcohol use disorder (AUD). Yet, experimental tasks that measure processes underlying self-regulation are not easy to deploy in contexts where such behaviors usually occur, namely outside the laboratory, and in clinical populations such as people with AUD. Moreover, lab-based tasks have been criticized for poor test–retest reliability and lack of construct validity. Smartphones can be used to deploy tasks in the field, but often require shorter versions of tasks, which may further decrease reliability. Here, we show that combining smartphone-based tasks with joint hierarchical modeling of longitudinal data can overcome at least some of these shortcomings. We test four short smartphone-based tasks outside the laboratory in a large sample (N = 488) of participants with AUD. Although task measures indeed have low reliability when data are analyzed traditionally by modeling each session separately, joint modeling of longitudinal data increases reliability to good and oftentimes excellent levels. We next test the measures’ construct validity and show that extracted latent factors are indeed in line with theoretical accounts of cognitive control and decision-making. Finally, we demonstrate that a resulting cognitive control factor relates to a real-life measure of drinking behavior and yields stronger correlations than single measures based on traditional analyses. Our findings demonstrate how short, smartphone-based task measures, when analyzed with joint hierarchical modeling and latent factor analysis, can overcome frequently reported shortcomings of experimental tasks.


PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Juli 2022
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ORCID /0000-0001-5398-5569/work/150329462


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