Review of the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM)

Over time, people tend to overestimate some feelings and underestimate others.

The Day Reconstruction Method (DRM) for assessing actual feelings and experiences seeks to minimize or eliminate such memory bias.

DRM captures people’s subjective well-being in a single session rather than over the course of a day as does the experience sampling method (ESM). DSM asks people to divide the previous day into various major activities (eating breakfast, commuting to work, leisure activities, etc.), and rate how pleasant/unpleasant they were. When weighted by the amount of time spent on an activity, an average subjected well-being score can be compiled.

While information captured by the DRM is more nuanced than global reports of feeling, significant questions remain about the method. For example, the DRM does not correlate with important outside variables such as income and employment. Additionally, it may not capture variations in a single activity segment, say work, during which an individual may experience different feelings.

More basic research on the DRM needs to be conducted concerning its validity, reliability, and correlation to EMS. Researchers need to look at the burden placed on DRM participants in comparison to ESM, which can sample over the course of a day using electronic devices.


This study is one in a series supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio to explore Positive Health, an emerging concept that seeks to demonstrate that in addition to health risks, people also have health assets, which can be strengthened to produce a healthier life. These health assets could include biological factors, such as high heart rate variability; subjective factors, such as optimism; and functional factors, such as a stable marriage.