Anthropology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Field Methods 22:4 (November 2010), pp. 357-377; doi: 10.1177/1525822X10379200


Copyright © 2010 Michael Paolisso and Raymond Hames. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


The accurate collection of unbiased behavioral data is an important component of theory building and ethnographic research. In this article, the authors review two approaches for the collection of behavioral data: time diary and instantaneous sampling. Time diary requires individuals to recall their behavior at specific time intervals; instantaneous sampling relies on researchers observing and recording the behavior of individuals. Each approach has specific strengths and weaknesses. The authors review recent methodological literature on both approaches, identify particular problems with both approaches, and contrast their respective methodological strengths and weaknesses.