Conclusion

Summarizing our view on nonreactive measurement, we suggested a continuous conception of nonreactivity by identifying five types of nonreactive research (from less to more nonreactive) rather than by defining nonreactive methods in a dichoto-mous way Measures of high nonreactivity are usu ally marked by a large degree of unobtrusiveness with regard to the subject's actual or perceived participation in a research study. Specifically those kinds of nonreactive measures (Types 4 and 5) may profit or at least change with the current and future sociotechnological developments, thus enabling us to apply new techniques and media explicitly relevant for highly nonreactive measures. In the meantime, the phrase "traces of behavior" appears in new light because the electronic means for collecting, saving, and processing data have significantly improved over the last decade. At least two areas are still rapidly developing: consumer behavior in various fields and individual behavior in "intelligent" technological environments.

Yes, our credit card companies are aware of any unusual expenditures we might make on the basis of our previous charging behavior. Of course this is "only"—or at least primarily—to protect us from misuse of our card. Our cell phones "know" where we are. Our cars determine the interval between service inspections on the basis of our driving behavior. Vehicles soon will start communicating so that they can form clusters with other vehicles for defined parts of routes (by "knowing" our destination and computing the optimal routes) enabling us to do things more important than steering—of course these activities will be recorded for later use for improving our own comfort. In household technology, the revolution is still to come: When approaching our home, the TV will switch to our favorite station, the room temperature and lighting will be regulated based on analyses of our preferences, and our refrigerators will order items based on the continuous monitoring of our consumption patterns.

Basically, for new forms of psychological research, the database for highly nonreactive research seems to be exploding. Presently, we can be fairly certain of one development: The responsibility of researchers when collecting new and processing available data will become a highly important topic for basic as well as applied research. This is particularly true for information that can be accessed or collected in nonreactive ways.

Chapter 1 5

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