Analyzing GPS Data for Psychological Research: A Tutorial

Sandrine R. Müller*, Joseph B. Bayer, Morgan Quinn Ross, Jerry Mount, Clemens Stachl, Gabriella M. Harari, Yung Ju Chang, Huyen T.K. Le

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The ubiquity of location-data-enabled devices provides novel avenues for psychology researchers to incorporate spatial analytics into their studies. Spatial analytics use global positioning system (GPS) data to assess and understand mobility behavior (e.g., locations visited, movement patterns). In this tutorial, we provide a practical guide to analyzing GPS data in R and introduce researchers to key procedures and resources for conducting spatial analytics. We show readers how to clean GPS data, compute mobility features (e.g., time spent at home, number of unique places visited), and visualize locations and movement patterns. In addition, we discuss the challenges of ensuring participant privacy and interpreting the psychological implications of mobility behaviors. The tutorial is accompanied by an R Markdown script and a simulated GPS data set made available on the OSF.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • digital traces
  • GPS
  • location
  • mobile analytics
  • open data
  • open materials
  • sensing
  • spatial analytics
  • tracking


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