The Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR): a novel approach for examining social environments in youth sport

Jordan Herbison, Luc Martin, Richard Slatcher, Ian Boardley, Alex Benson, Jordan Sutcliffe, Colin McLaren, Justin Carre, Jean Côte, Jennifer Coletti, Mark W. Bruner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
122 Downloads (Pure)


The interactions between athletes, parents, and coaches outside of the immediate training and competition environments can shape sport participants’ overall experiences. Accordingly, researchers have explored novel approaches that enable the investigation of experiences that occur beyond the sport activity itself. Technological innovations, combined with careful ethical considerations, have led to the development of research methods that can be used to assess participant conversations in their natural sport and social environments. This article introduces sport researchers to the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR), an ambulatory ecological assessment method that provides access to daily social interactions among athletes, parents, and coaches within and beyond the immediate sport activity (e.g. commute to/from activity, locker rooms, hotels). The EAR software is embedded within a portable device (e.g. Android device) and is programmed to record brief segments of audio from participants’ daily lives. In addition to discussing the utility of this approach for sport contexts, we introduce the Audio Coding System for Social Environments in Sport (ACSSES), which was developed to assess the interactions captured from athletes’ natural sport and social environments using the EAR. Evidence for the reliability and validity of the ACSSES, the associated coder training protocol, and proposed implications for research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Early online date22 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jul 2020


  • behavioural observation
  • coding system
  • moral behaviour
  • social identity
  • youth sport


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