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Reaction time measurement reliability and interdevice variability. Reaction time measurement reliability and interdevice variability Behavior Research Methods, Neil Stewart.

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Reaction time measurement reliability and inter-device variability. Behavior Research Methods, 40, We examine whether it is possible to measure reaction times RTs accurately using Adobe Flash Lite on mobile phones. We ran simple and choice RT experiments on two widely available mobile phones, a Sony Ericsson Wi and a Nokia Navigator, using a wireless application protocol WAP connection to access the internet from the devices.

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RTs were compared within-subjects with those obtained using a linux-based millisecond-accurate measurement system. Results show that measured RTs were significantly longer on mobile devices, and that overall RTs and distribution of RTs varied across devices. Reaction Time Measurement Reliability and Inter-Device Variability In recent years, one of the biggest socio-technological developments has been the widespread adoption of mobile telephones among the majority of the Western World. It is estimated that there are over two billion mobile phones globally Central Intelligence Agency, Although the primary use of a mobile phone is to make and receive calls and text messages, many phones now include other capabilities such as digital cameras, audio players, radios, games and organizational tools like alerts and planners.

In the ten years to , it has become increasingly easy and popular to use a Wireless Application Protocol WAP connection to access the web from mobile devices. Mobile internet access has also been developed to tie in with more traditional PC-based access; for example, it is now possible to place a bid on the auction site eBay wap. Thus, at the time of writing it appears that internet use on mobile phones is becoming mainstream.

Existing Research using Mobile Devices A WAP-enabled mobile phone is essentially a small, cheap, handheld computer which can send and receive data wirelessly across the internet. Put in these terms, mobile phones may appear attractive as devices for running psychology experiments.

This system was capable of measuring RTs on cognitive tasks, and the authors note that the RTs should be accurate to around 10 ms, although they indicate that they had not conducted any systematic tests of RT accuracy. MiniCog was also designed as a package which would be downloaded, and data uploaded, via a host computer, rather than direct contact with a server across the internet. A different approach to using mobile devices for psychological research had been taken by Hogarth and colleagues e. They sent text messages to participants at random times during the day.

When participants received the message they had to make a note what they were doing, and answer questions about the potential risks that the activity they were engaging in entailed.

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Text messaging has also been used in classroom experiments. Cheung used a sophisticated system for recording, processing and responding to SMS text messages from students in a class. He used the system to run a version of the ultimatum and public goods games. Thus, half the students in the ultimatum game setup sent a text message with the amount they would offer; the other half sent a text message with the minimum amount they would accept.

Proposers and responders were randomly paired, and each received a text message informing them whether agreement had been reached or not. Advantages and Disadvantages of Mobile Phones in Psychological Research The three examples above show some of the major advantages of using mobile devices for psychological research.

The ubiquity of mobile phones means that large numbers of people can participate in an experiment without the need to allocate a device to collect responses. However, we suggest that there are additional reasons that using mobile devices might be of benefit to psychologists. Much of the literature on the advantages and disadvantages of web-based testing can also be applied to running experiments on mobile devices.

Thus, mobile phone testing allows one to test participants who are not physically present in the lab, and to reach a broader demographic than those who normally participate in lab-based research. It also gives people more flexibilit y in when they participate, and allows them to participate from the familiar surroundings of their own home. As well as the potential advantages that phone-based testing shares with traditional computer-based web-testing, mobile devices have a number of other advantages. As we saw in the examples of Shephard et al.

Shephard et al. Mobile phones also have the advantage that they tend to be switched on and carried by their owner most of the time. Thus, the effect of circadian rhythms could easily be investigated. Alternatively, memory stimuli with inter-item spacings of hours or days could be delivered using mobile phones. Whole practical classes could be run without the need for a large number of computers. Clearly, mobile phones are not a panacea, and there are also significant potential drawbacks that might need to be overcome.

These include demographics skewed towards the younger and more affluent members of society, particularly for experiments that require WAP, Java, or Flash. Responses may also be interrupted by incoming calls or messages. The cost of sending and receiving data using WAP can be very high, largely precluding the use of audio and video stimuli. The screen size is relatively small, keys are also small and fiddly, and free-text responses are, at best, difficult to give.

RT Experiments on Mobile Devices Having discussed the use of mobile devices generally, we now focus specifically on running experiments that measure millisecond RTs. We know of three broad ways of running RT experiments on mobile devices. For example, there are many applications that have been developed for the Symbian operating system found on many brands of mobile device. This is broadly equivalent to downloading and installing an executable file on a PC. A major disadvantage is that people are often reluctant to install software that is so unconstrained. Further, a piece of software will only run on phones that use the operating system for which it was designed.

The functionality of Java is sandboxed, so that an application cannot access other information on the device, or use all of its functionality. Thus, Java trades off perceived security threats with decreased functionality. Third and finally, and the focus of our attention here, it is possible to run experiments using Flash Lite.


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This makes the experience of completing Flash Lite experiments more ergonomic for the user than Java, and also means that on many devices, Flash Lite applications can be embedded in HTML code, allowing developers to use a combination of Flash and HTML in their applications. In the past few years one of the major developments in the use of Flash has been the release of Flash Lite, a cut-down version of Flash designed to be run on mobile devices.

Flash Lite is included in a number of retail mobile devices. Strategy Analytics Robinson, reports that between and , over million Flash Lite enabled devices were shipped, and this number is predicted to rise to 1. A list of current devices supporting Flash Lite can be found at http: One advantage of Flash Lite is its similarity to standard Flash.

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This means that researchers who are used to implementing web experiments in Flash will find it relatively easy to write experiments in Flash Lite. We therefore set out to investigate whether it would be viable to run RT psychology experiments using Flash Lite, and in particular, the extent to which currently-available devices could record reaction times consistently and accurately. We have two aims. The first is to examine generally whether RT measurement is accurate enough on currently available mobile devices for RT- based testing to be worth considering at all.

For example, if RTs measured on mobile phones were hundreds of milliseconds longer than under accurate measurement, or were quantized to the nearest ms, then testing using mobiles would be unviable. The second aim is to examine the extent to which RT measurement accuracy varies across devices. This is important because if there is significant variation, it will be important to ensure that differences in RT due to hardware are accounted for, and are not assumed to be psychological differences.

Our Baseline Condition, which is known to measure RTs with millisecond accuracy, was programmed in C, and used the same set-up described in Stewart a, b. In the other two conditions a single Flash Lite 1. The experiment was designed as more of a field test than a calibration: It is also possible that the smaller size of the stimuli on the screen made the mobile condition harder.

Thus, the results of this experiment should not be interpreted as just the physical characteristics of the different devices, but rather the overall differences in RTs one might expect if one ran participants in the different conditions. Method Participants Participants were 22 undergraduate psychology students at the University of Warwick.


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  4. The order in which participants used the different devices was counterbalanced. The system used for the desktop-computer-based experiments Baseline was a Tranquil T2, a silent and low cost PC. Responses were collected using a custom-made parallel-port button box with two buttons, one for the left index finger and one for the right index finger.

    The Nokia Condition used the Navigator, with a x pixel screen, in standard UK configuration, connected to the Vodafone network. In the Baseline Condition, the C code was executed from the command line, and the experiment window filled the screen. In both the phone conditions, the Flash Lite code was downloaded in its entirety before the experiment began. Thus, until data were saved at the end of the experiment, the cellular network was not required. Participants completed two trial tasks, choice reaction time CRT and simple reaction time SRT , always in that order.

    In all conditions participants sat alone in a quiet room. At the start of each condition printed instructions were given, which were summarized on the monitor or device screen. Following the delay, in the CRT task, the crosshair was replaced by a red or green rectangle, which remained on the screen until a response was made.

    All trials were independent: Response key mapping was counterbalanced: All of the common player functions such as Play, Stop, Pause, and Rewind are available from a menu at the side of the screen. My only criticism would be that the poor user interface could have been given a little more attention in order to make it a little more user-friendly. If you're still having problems accessing Flash content on your Windows Mobile device, you could try installing Adobe Flash Player instead. This standalone version of the Flash Lite 2.

    This version is also available to end users who want to play back Flash Lite content and applications on Windows Mobile 5. What do you think about Adobe Flash Lite? Do you recommend it? Via a View full description.

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    CONS Cumbersome interface. Softonic review Adobe Flash Lite equips your Windows Mobile device with a player for Flash movies and animation in both frame and window mode. Picasa Manage, edit and share your photos with ease.