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Experience sampling in a law department – insights into productivity, etc.

In a recent talk, a Princeton professor of psychology, Daniel Kahneman, explained that researchers into human happiness use a technique called “experience sampling.” The researchers equip subjects with beepers or cell phones. Then, at intervals the researchers ask the subjects to describe their moods and activities at the moment.

If a law department could use experience sampling, it would for the first time gather data on perceived productivity, satisfaction, challenge of work, use of knowledge resources and other performance attributes that currently we can only obliquely assess. An alternative data-gathering method is referred to as “episode reconstruction,” by which the researchers ask a subject the day after to describe and rate the events of the preceding day.

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