The Life Event Calendar Method in Criminological Research

  • Jennifer Roberts
  • Julie Horney


The life events calendar (LEC), used in a number of fields for collecting retrospective data on one or more aspects of individuals’ lives, has been variously referred to as the “life history calendar,” “event history calendar,” “life chart interview,” “calendar method,” “calendar interviewing,” and “timeline followback” method. Regardless of the name, the method capitalizes on what is known about the storage of autobiographical memory and involves entering key time markers on a calendar in order to facilitate the recall of events and life circumstances.

With increased use of the LEC across a variety of disciplines, more attention has been focused on this method and on the quality of data resulting from its use. Early reviews of the method and its utility were provided by Freedman et al. (1988) and by Caspi et al. (1996). More recently, Belli and colleagues have written extensively about the method’s theoretical foundations and have conducted important research comparing the LEC to more traditional methodological approaches (Belli 1998; Belli et al. 2001, 2007, 2009).


Intimate Partner Violence Reference Period Autobiographical Memory Recall Period Life Circumstance 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Roberts
    • 1
  • Julie Horney
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of CriminologyIndiana University of PennsylvaniaIndianaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology & Crime, Law and JusticePennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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