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Adolescents’ Daily Perception of Internalizing Emotional States by Means of Smartphone-based Ecological Momentary Assessment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 December 2017

Teresa Kirchner*
Universitat de Barcelona (Spain).
Ernesto Magallón-Neri
Universitat de Barcelona (Spain).
Manuel S. Ortiz
Universidad de la Frontera (Chile)
Irina Planellas
Rehastet Medical Center (Spain)
María Forns
Universitat de Barcelona (Spain).
Caterina Calderón
Universitat de Barcelona (Spain).
*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Teresa Kirchner. Departamento de Psicología Clínica y Psicobiología de la Universitat de Barcelona. Passeig de la Vall d’Hebron, 171. 08035 Barcelona (Spain). E-mail:


This study uses ecological momentary assessment (EMA) with smartphone devices to examine community adolescents’ perceptions regarding both the intensity of and variability in their daily sadness/depression, anxiety, and somatic problems over the period of one week. Participants were 90 high-school students (Mage = 14.61, SD = 1.64; range 12–18). The sample was divided according to gender (61.1% girls), migratory status (68.5% Spanish nationals and 31.5% Latin American immigrants), and level of psychological symptoms (17% risk group). Sadness/depression, anxiety, and somatic problems were examined using a smartphone app, five times per day, semi-randomly, for seven days (35 possible moments). A high proportion of adolescents did not report feelings of sadness (80.0%) or worry (79.3%) or physical symptoms on a daily basis (84.9%). Girls and the risk group reported greater intensity levels for the three analyzed problems than did boys and the normal group, respectively (p < .001 in all cases). Migratory status was not associated with any significant differences in the analyzed problems over the one-week period (p > .05 in all cases). Day-to-day fluctuations in mood during the week were statistically significant but not meaningful (b = 0.0004, 95% CI [0.0001, 0.0008], p = .001).

Research Article
Copyright © Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos de Madrid 2017 

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This study forms part of a research project examining vulnerability to psychopathology among adolescents in situations of psychosocial risk, which has received funding from the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad: National Program for Promoting Excellence in Scientific and Technical Research, within the framework of the National Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation; Project: PSI2013–46392–P. We thank Professor Joan Guardia for his suggestions on different aspects of the research.

How to cite this article:

Kircher, T., Magallón-Neri, E., Ortiz, M. S., Planellas, I., Forns, M., & Calderón, C. (2017). Adolescents’ daily perception of internalizing emotional states by means of smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 20. e71. Doi:10.1017/sjp.2017.70


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