External contexts and movement behaviors in ecological momentary assessment studies: a systematic review and future directions

Natalie M. Papini, Chih Hsiang Yang, Bridgette Do, Tyler B. Mason, Nanette V. Lopez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This systematic review synthesized evidence from ecological momentary assessment (EMA) studies examining associations between external contexts (social, physical, or time-based) and everyday movement behaviors in children and adults. Published English articles were searched in multiple databases and assessed for methodological quality. The 29 eligible EMA studies differed in their sample size, EMA design, and activity measures. Available evidence indicated that specific external contexts may play a role in shaping individuals’ everyday movement behaviors. For social contexts, the presence of others or recent interaction with others was related to more physical activity and less sedentary time. For physical contexts, there were consistent findings suggesting that staying outdoors (vs. indoors) was related to increased physical activity and decreased sedentary behavior. For time-based contexts, time of day or weekend (vs. weekday) influence on movement behaviors was not consistent. Favorable weather conditions were associated with greater physical activity, while poor weather conditions were conducive to sedentary behavior. The influence of other social, physical, and time-based factors on movement behaviors was mixed or inconclusive. Future EMA work should include clinical and minority populations, examine moderators and other behavior parameters, and test the potential mechanisms explaining the associations between external contexts and everyday movement behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-367
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Experience sampling method
  • contextual factors
  • intensive longitudinal designs
  • movement-based behaviors
  • social-ecological approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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