Publication at the International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction Journal

A paper published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction Journal.

Interest in technological solutions for combating online misinformation has rapidly grown over the last decade, yet the majority of proposed tools do not consider behavioral theories in their design, nor have they addressed the ways in which individuals could potentially interact with these tools, while omitting the plausible ways in which variations in the design of the interventions may affect end-users’ decision-making and behavioral responses. In this paper, we explore the potential of nudging to inform the design of technological tools that aim to mitigate online misinformation through behavior change. We report on a design workshop where 29 participants were asked to conceive technology-mediated nudges supporting individuals’ decision-making in the production, dissemination or consumption of misinformative content. In producing novel solutions, participants used the “Nudge Deck,” a design support tool that makes nudge theory, and particularly a framework of 23 interaction design mechanisms for nudging, accessible during time-constrained design meetings. We present the outputs of the session and discuss them in light of prior literature with respect to ethics and potential effectiveness.

Poster participation at CSCW 2023

Poster of our participation at the CSCW conference 2023, report on a design workshop with 29 participants, who were asked to conceive technology-mediated nudges for misinformation with the use of the “Nudge Deck”, a design-support tool that presents 23 interaction design mechanisms for nudging.

Panel on Persuasive Technology Education

We’re joining the upcoming panel on “Teaching a Persuasive Technology course” that takes place as part of the Persuasive Technology 2021 conference. We’re looking forward to the much needed discussion!

Panel session: Teaching a Persuasive Technology Course

Moderator: Dena Al-Thani, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar

Panel Members:

  • Harri Oinas-Kukkonen, Oulu University, Finland
  • Evangelos Karapanos, Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus
  • Lisette van Gemert-Pijnen, University of Twente, the Netherlands
  • Raian Ali, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar

A sabbatical semester

We’ve just came back from a productive sabbatical. Chrysanthi spend two months at the Telefonica research labs in Barcelona, supported by the Encase project, Loukas spend his semester at the Jheronimus Academy of Data Science in Tilburg, NL, and I visited the Interaction Design Lab of the University of Melbourne. We had lots of fun and have some interesting stuff on the pipeline…

Congratulations to Dr. Ruben Gouveia!

One of our very own, Rúben Gouveia, successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis entitled “Tracking in the wild: Exploring the everyday use of physical activity trackers”. Rúben is moving to the University of Twente as an Assistant Professor as of Sept 1st, 2019. Rúben! it has been more than a pleasure!

Research visit of Elçin Hancı

We had the pleasure of hosting between February and April 2019, Elçin Hancı – Ph.D. candidate at the Human-Technology Interaction group of the Eindhoven University of Technology. Elcin’s working hypothesis, in her PhD studies, is that we treat physical activity trackers as social actors. Her work involves experimental studies of social effects on participants’ perceptions of the tracker, and motivation for physical activity (see her recent publication at Persuasive’19). We had a lot of interesting discussions and worked towards a joint publication. The photo depicts Elçin and the rest of the lab – Chrysanthi, Georgia and Loukas (from right to left) – as happy student volunteers at the Persuasive’19 conference that we hosted here in Limassol. Elçin, it was a pleasure!

On Technology-Assisted Reconstruction

We recently published an article summarizing our work and our vision for a methodological paradigm we call Technology-Assisted Reconstruction. You may be asking: what is Technology-Assisted Reconstruction?

Suppose you want to measure how people feel, or what people do throughout the day. In Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), you may be interested to study how a novel communication system affects feelings of connectedness among family members, or how a self-tracking technology affects users’ motivation for, say, physical exercise. How do you go about it?

One approach is to ask people at the end of the day to recall episodes where they interacted with the system and recount how they felt and what they did during those episodes, or to ask them to provide “global reports” on how they system affects their feelings of connectedness or their motivation for physical activity, overall. Such retrospective judgments suffer from recall and social biases.

Another alternative is to employ the Experience Sampling Method (ESM), which consists of prompting the user with short questionnaires, at random, or otherwise-defined times throughout the day. With the widespread adoption of sensor-filled mobile technologies, we can now schedule such prompts rather effectively. For instance, we can ask people to report how motivated they feel, right after they interact with the self-tracking technology, thus being able to study the proximal impact of feedback on individuals’ motivation. ESM minimizes recall and social biases and is considered to be the gold standard of momentary assessment.

One challenge with ESM, is that it imposes a high burden on participants due to the repetitive interruptions. Daniel Kahnneman and colleagues published an article in Science in 2004 on an alternative to ESM, the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM). DRM does not interrupt participants throughout the day but rather asks participants, at the beginning of the next day, to list their daily activities as a continuous series of episodes. This is assumed to minimize recall bias through increasing the number of cues to episodic memory people have access to, and which they use to infer experiential information. DRM has been found to provide a reasonably good approximation to experience sampling data and the method has been well adopted by the HCI community.

With Technology-Assisted Reconstruction we argue that our field has the capacity to contribute towards a next step in the field of momentary assessment, where passively logged data from sensor-based technologies, such as the locations we visit, the social interaction we perform through technology, and what we see, as captured from lifelogging cameras, can be leveraged to support recall. This article attempts to make three contributions:

  • It reviews the use of ESM and DRM in HCI literature and discusses the challenges researchers have encountered.
  • It presents our vision on Technology-Assisted Reconstruction and illustrates this, through five different methods we have developed over the past ten years.
  • It proposes a framework for the development of TAR methods (see table 2), which summarizes three distinct strategies: (a) enhancing the encoding process as the event takes place, (b) guiding the recall process, and (c) providing external memory cues during recall.
pdf Karapanos, E. (2019): Technology-assisted reconstruction: a new alternative to the experience sampling method, Behaviour & Information Technology, DOI: 10.1080/0144929X.2019.1608303


CHI’19 paper – 23 Ways to Nudge: A Review of Technology-Mediated Nudging in Human-Computer Interaction

Ten years ago, Thaler and Sunstein introduced the notion of nudging to talk about how subtle changes in the ‘choice architecture’ can alter people’s behaviors in predictable ways. This idea was eagerly adopted in HCI and applied in multiple contexts, including health, sustainability and privacy. Despite this, we still lack an understanding of how to design effective technology-mediated nudges. In this paper we present a systematic review of the use of nudging in HCI research with the goal of laying out the design space of technology-mediated nudging – the why (i.e., which cognitive biases do nudges combat) and the how (i.e., what exact mechanisms do nudges employ to incur behavior change). All in all, we found 23 distinct mechanisms of nudging, grouped in 6 categories, and leveraging 15 different cognitive biases. We present these as a framework for technology-mediated nudging, and discuss the factors shaping nudges’ effectiveness and their ethical implications.
Caraban, A., Karapanos, E., Gonçalves, D. & Campos, P. (2018) 23 Ways to Nudge: A Review of Technology-Mediated Nudging in Human-Computer Interaction, In Proceedings of CHI’19.

Ruben Gouveia Finalist for the Gaetano Borriello Outstanding Student Award

Ruben Gouveia has been selected as a finalist for the Gaetano Borriello Outstanding Student Award at Ubicomp 2018 along with four other students from Cornell University, the University of Washington and Stuttgart University. The award was given to Alex Mariakakis from the University of Washington. More information at:

Ruben is finishing his PhD studies at University of Madeira, under the supervision of Dr. Evangelos Karapanos. Ruben’s work has tried to understand how users engage with physical activity trackers and to design appropriate strategies that increase user engagement and lead to behavior change. More information about Ruben’s work can be found at

Persuasive’19 coming to Limassol!

We’re proudly hosting Persuasive’19 in Limassol, from April 9 to 11, 2019. Persuasive Technology (PT) is a vibrant interdisciplinary research community, focusing on the design, development and evaluation of interactive technologies aimed at changing people’s attitudes or behaviors through persuasion and social influence, but not through coercion or deception.

Research visit of Dr. Tuomas Kari

Dr. Tuomas Kari visited our lab during the period 3-7.9.2018. His background is in information systems science, and his main research interest lays in the use of technology in everyday life, especially in the context of health and wellness. During the visit, Tuomas gave a talk on exertion games and gamification, and we talked about our mutual research interests, and explored opportunities for collaboration.

H2020 project kick-off: Co-inform

The official kick-off of the H2020 project Co-Inform took place in May’18. Co-Inform is about empowering citizens, journalists and policy-makers with co-created socio-technical solutions, to increase resilience to misinformation and to generate more informed behaviours and policies. The aim of Co-Inform is to co-create this solutions with citizens, journalists and policy-makers for:

  • Detecting and combating a variety of misinforming posts and articles on social media;
  • Supporting, persuading and nourishing misinformation-resilient behaviour;
  • Bridging between the public on social media, external fact-checking journalists, and policy-makers;
  • Understanding and predicting which misinforming news and contents are likely to spread across which parts of the network and demographic sectors;
  • Infiltrating echo-chambers on social media to expose confirmation-biased networks to different perceptions and corrective information; and
  • Providing policy-makers with advanced misinformation analysis to support their policy-making processes and validation.

Our work will explore the design of technological interventions that nudge individuals towards misinformation-resilient behaviours. CUT is further represented by Dr. Elena Kyza (PI) and Dr. Dionysis Panos.

CHI paper: Activity Tracking in vivo

While recent research has emphasized the importance of understanding the lived experience of personal tracking, very little is known about the everyday coordination between tracker use and the surrounding environment. We combine behavioral data from trackers with video recordings from wearable cameras, in an attempt to understand how usage unfolds in daily life and how it is shaped by the context of use. We recorded twelve participants’ daily use of activity trackers, collecting and analyzing 244 incidents where activity trackers were used. Among our findings, tracker use was strongly driven by reflection and learning-in action, contrasting the traditional view that learning is one of deep exploration, following the collection of data on behaviors. We leverage on these insights and propose three directions for the design of activity trackers: facilitating learning through glances, providing normative feedback and facilitating micro-plans.

pdf Gouveia, R., Karapanos, E., Hassenzahl, M. (2018) Activity Tracking in vivo, In Proceedings of CHI’18.

Research visitors

We had the pleasure of welcoming two research visitors over the past months.

Mr Olli Korhonen, PhD student at the Interact Research Unit of the University of Oulu, advised by Prof. Minna Isomursu, visited our lab between January and February 2018 (16.1-13.2) as part of a short-term scientific mission in the context of the European Network for the Joint Evaluation of Connected Health Technologies. Olli’s work focuses on the personalisation of e-health services. The scope of Olli’s visit was to inquire into the nature of personalisation in the context of health behavior change technologies, across three domains of activity of the lab – gamification, goal-setting and nudging.

Our own Rúben Gouveia, who is completing his PhD studies at the University of Madeira and Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute, visited our lab between October 2017 and February 2018. During his time here, Rúben designed and conducted a field trial of a novel smartwatch application for the promotion of physical activity. He is currently analyzing the data and planning the write-up of what is expected to be the last study in his thesis. In the meantime, Ruben also got a full paper accepted at the top-tier ACM CHI conference.

Persuasive’18 in Waterloo, Canada. Submit!

We’re involved in the organisation of the Persuasive’18 conference to be held in Waterloo, Canada. Deadline for papers: November 1, 2017. Submit!


Dear sir/madam,
We are pleased to announce that the International Conference on Persuasive Technology is being hosted in Waterloo, Canada in 2018!  The conference will be hosted by the University of Waterloo, Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology.
Persuasive Technology brings together researchers interested in using psychology and technology to effect behaviour change.  The conference is suitable for everyone interested in persuasive technology, persuasive design and design for behaviour change.
The submission deadline for papers, workshops, and tutorials is November 1, 2017.  Please check our website or the Call for Papers below for more information.
We are looking forward to seeing you all at the Persuasive Technology conference and welcoming you to Waterloo and Canada!
Kind regards,
The Organizers of Persuasive Technology 2018.



The 13th International Conference on Persuasive Technology

April 16-19, 2018, Waterloo, Canada

Paper submission deadline: November 1, 2017


Persuasive Technology (PT) is a vibrant interdisciplinary research field, focusing on the design, development and evaluation of interactive technologies aimed at changing people’s attitudes or behaviors through persuasion and social influence, but not through coercion or deception.
The 13th international conference on Persuasive Technologies will be hosted by the University of Waterloo, Canada, a short drive from the beautiful multicultural city of Toronto.  This is the first time that the Persuasive Technology conference has come to Canada. The previous successful conferences have been organized in Amsterdam, Salzburg, Chicago, Padua, Sydney, Linköping, Columbus, Copenhagen, Claremont, Oulu, Palo Alto, and Eindhoven.
The conference will bring together researchers and practitioners from industry and academia who are working in the field of persuasive technologies. As a community we aim at enriching people’s lives in various domains – e.g., health, safety, and the environment – by supporting their personal goals to change their behavior.
2018 Special Theme: Persuasive Technology – Making a Difference
This years special theme for the Persuasive Technology conference is “Making a difference”.  This theme is both a celebration of what Persuasive Technology has accomplished, and a challenge for where Persuasive Technology can make a difference in the future.  As a result we invite papers that show clearly the design of persuasive technologies with the explicit goal of creating behavioural change, and papers that show that persuasive technologies made a difference.  Papers that explore methods to improve the understanding of persuasive interventions, and the measurement of behaviour change are also encouraged.  We also encourage papers that exploring new frontiers for persuasive technology, such as personalized persuasion, uses of big data, new ways of creating engagement through gaming or social connection.  Persuasive technologies in various domains (health, energy usage, social commitment and others) and creative and effective uses of persuasion through various technologies (web, wearables, AI, and smart environments) will be considered.  
The main scope of the conference includes (but is not limited to) the following topics:
We welcome a wide diversity of papers. Papers eligible for acceptance may address the application of PT in different domains (e.g., health, safety, energy, etc.), examine the specific psychological mechanisms that positively or negatively influence PT effectiveness (e.g., habits, reciprocity, social comparison), the ethics of persuasive technology, focus on technology that provides input to persuasion attempts (e.g., sensors, monitoring, AI, etc.), or emphasize methodology (for design, evaluation, implementation, etc.). Whatever the focus, we especially welcome papers that focus on technology as a means to study interactions between humans and PT, are grounded in relevant and up-to-date theory, transcend a mere showcasing of applications, and address the generalizability of results.
The list below provides some additional examples (in no particular order); eligible papers are not limited to these specific examples.
·                     Safety
·                     Personalized health care (e.g. health, wellbeing, happiness)
·                     Personalized medicine
·                     Healthy environments
·                     Sustainable environment
·                     Persuasive wellbeing
·                     Persuasive cities
·                     eLearning and training
·                     Marketing and e-commerce
Technological and design perspective
·                     Big data systems
·                     Sensing technology
·                     Early warning systems
·                     Intelligent systems
·                     Smart environments
·                     Connected devices (Internet of Things)
·                     Design of feedback
·                     Multimodal interaction
·                     Persuasive systems, interfaces, visualization
·                     Socially influencing systems
·                     Computer-supported influence
·                     Tailored, persuasive, and personalized systems
·                     Mobile, pervasive and ubiquitous persuasion
·                     Design methodologies
·                     Behavior change support systems design
·                     Experiments
·                     Big data methodologies
·                     Gamification
·                     Implementation
·                     Evaluation and validation
·                     Valorization
·                     Machine learning
·                     (Ecological) monitoring
·                     Feedback
·                     Coaching
·                     Persuasion through gamification
·                     Mass persuasion and interactive technologies
·                     Cognition and persuasive technology
·                     Ethics and moral issues
·                     Cultural influences
·                     Humanizing and/or dehumanizing effects of persuasive technology
·                     Unconscious processes
·                     Habits and habit change
·                     Social practices
·                     Cultural values
·                     Reciprocity
·                     Competition, social comparison
·                     HCI issues
·                     Unexpected effects of PT
·                     Disruptive technology
·                     Persuasive backfiring
·                     Peripheral interaction
·                     Slow technology
Contributions can be made in the following categories:
·                     Paper (short and long)
·                     Poster
·                     Workshop
·                     Symposium
·                     Demo
·                     Doctoral consortium
·                     Tutorial
Please check for further details and for deeper descriptions of the contribution types.
General chair: Catherine Burns
Organizing chair: Plinio Morita
Program chairs: Jaap Ham and Evangelos Karapanos
Tutorial and Doctoral Symposium chair: Lisette van Gemert-Pijnen
Workshop chair: Rita Orji
Social Media Team:            David Zehao Qin, Dia Rahman, Agnis Stibe

Administration: Krystina Bednarowski

Mobile HCI workshop on Quantified Self. Submit!

We will be co-organizing a workshop on New Directions for Self-Quantification for Behavior Change as part of Mobile HCI  2017 in Vienna. Submit your paper and join us!

New Directions in Self-Quantification for Behavior Change – Call for Papers
Workshop at MobileHCI
September 4th, 2017
Vienna, Austria


Elisabeth Kersten – van Dijk, Eindhoven University of Technology
Naomi Jacobs, Eindhoven University of Technology
Heleen Rutjes, Eindhoven University of Technology
Marc Hassenzahl, University of Siegen
Evangelos Karapanos, Cyprus University of Technology
Boris de Ruyter, Philips Research, Radboud University Nijmegen
Wijnand IJsselsteijn, Eindhoven University of Technology


The vision of the Quantified Self proposes that by gathering data about ourselves, we can gain insight into what makes us tick and shed light on avenues for self-improvement. However, examples from practice show that obtaining insight from data, let alone achieving long-term behavior change, is not trivial. In addition, self-tracking may have unintended side effects and hidden assumptions which complicate its effects. In this interactive workshop, we aim to bring together researchers from various fields with an interest in behavior change support systems, to compile an interdisciplinary, critical perspective on the use of self-quantification for behavior change.

Perspectives that are of interest to the workshop include, but are not limited to, the following:

– From data to action: How and to what extent do users understand and believe their data, and does it lead to new, actionable and meaningful insights? How can we help users translate their data into action?

– Unintended effects: What are the side effects of self-quantification and how can we investigate these?

– Individual differences: What individual differences change the effects of self-quantification, both stable (e.g., personality, socio-cultural background, gender) and temporary characteristics (e.g., mood, situational characteristics)?

– Ethical perspectives: how should we incorporate ethical considerations in the design of applications employing self-quantification for behavior change?

– Methodological perspectives: Which methods can be applied to answer the questions above?

** To participate **

Submit a position paper of 2-4 pages in SIGCHI extended abstracts format. Research results are not required; we invite specifically ideas and research in early stages.

Submissions will be reviewed by the organizers based on relevance and expected contribution to the discussion in the workshop.

Please direct queries and paper submissions to

– The deadline for submission of workshop contributions is May 19th, 2017

– Notification will be sent to authors on June 9th, 2017

Please note that at least one author of each accepted position paper must register and attend the workshop. All workshop participants must register for both the workshop and for at least one day of the main conference. Please register before the early registration deadline of June 19th.


Subly: A Google Chrome Plugin for Subliminal Priming

With 50% of people spending over 6 h per day surfing the web, web browsers offer a promising platform for the delivery of behavior change interventions. One technique might be subliminal priming of behavioral concepts (e.g., walking). This paper presents Subly, an open-source plugin for Google’s Chrome browser that primes behavioral concepts through slight emphasis on words and phrases as people browse the Internet. Such priming interventions might be employed across several domains, such as breaking sedentary activity, promoting safe use of the Internet among minors, promoting civil discourse and breaking undesirable online habits such excessive use of social media. We present two studies with Subly: one that identifies the threshold of subliminal perception and one that demonstrates the efficacy of Subly in a picture-selection task. We conclude with opportunities and ethical considerations arising from the future use of Subly to achieve behavior change.

pdf Caraban, A., Karapanos, E.,Teixeira, V., Munson, S., Campos, P. (2017) On the Design of Subly: Instilling Behavior Change During Web Surfing Through Subliminal Priming, In Proceedings of Persuasive’17.

Does Beauty Matter in Behavior Change?

The use of motivational textual messages is a popular strategy for encouraging behavior change. Social media platforms, such as Instagram, have afforded tailored visual presentations of the text of such messages, that range in style, by exploring color, illustration, photography, or typography. Following the fact that different text aesthetics can invoke different perceptions about what is written, we suggest that perceived beauty coming from the presentation of textual messages can increase the appeal of changing behavior. Beauty should increase extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, as long as beauty elicits positive affect. In intrinsic, beauty should lead to a relatively enduring behavioral intention, whereas in extrinsic it should increase the intention temporarily. We present our initial hypotheses and an experimental study we plan to conduct.

pdf Duro, L., Karapanos, E.,Romão, T., Campos, P. (2017) Does Beauty Matter in Behavior Change?, In Adjunct Proceedings of Persuasive’17.

Exploring the Design Space of Glanceable Feedback for Physical Activity Trackers

Recent research reveals over 70% of the usage of physical activity trackers to be driven by glances – brief, 5-second sessions where individuals check ongoing activity levels with no further interaction. This raises a question as to how to best design glanceable behavioral feedback. We first set out to explore the design space of glanceable feedback in physical activity trackers, which resulted in 21 unique concepts and 6 design qualities: being abstract, integrating with existing activities, supporting comparisons to targets and norms, being actionable, having the capacity to lead to checking habits and to act as a proxy to further engagement. Second, we prototyped four of the concepts and deployed them in the wild to better understand how different types of glanceable behavioral feedback affect user engagement and physical activity. We found significant differences among the prototypes, all in all, highlighting the surprisingly strong effect glanceable feedback has on individuals’ behaviors.

pdf Gouveia, R., Pereira, F., Karapanos, E., Munson, S., Hassenzahl, M. (2016) Exploring the Design Space of Glanceable Feedback for Physical Activity Trackers, In Proceedings of Ubicomp’16.

Designing behaviour

I intentionally chose a provocative title. Can we really design behaviour? Can technologies have such an influence on individuals’ behaviour that we can talk about “designing behaviour” through technology?

To a large extend, behaviour change technologies nowadays rest on the assumption that knowledge leads to behaviour change, an idea that is deeply rooted in the “quantified self” community. We assume, for instance, that making people aware of how much, when, and where, they walk (or don’t), will lead them to uncover patterns in their behaviours and take actions to increase their physical activity. Our research has revealed that this is not necessarily true, and that we often hold incorrect assumptions about how people use these technologies. For instance, our habito study, revealed that people rarely look back at their past performance data, and that only 30% of the users set their own walking goal.

Rather than thinking of such technologies as ones that enable deep reflection over one’s behavioural patterns, could we have more success if we focus on shaping the choice architecture at moments of decision making? Consider, for instance, the popular road sign stripes that are strategically positioned closer and closer together as we approach a steep curve, making us believe that we are over-speeding. Such a simple intervention has been found to decrease car accidents by 36%.

How could we transfer such approaches to the design of behaviour change technologies? I personally see  two approaches. One is to infer when such critical moments of decision making happen – approaching the elevator, browsing through online food delivery options etc. A second is to provide persistent, glanceable feedback that keeps reminding people of their goal. Consider, for instance, that people glance at their smartwatches 80-150 times a day to check the time or incoming notifications. Might we leverage on this to present physical activity feedback at the periphery of their attention?

In our recent paper we explored just that. For the purpose of this blog article, I wanted to emphasize what we found with one of the prototypes we developed, TickTock.

 The TickTock prototype (left) portrays periods in which one was physically active over the past hour. Witnessing that one was sedentary over the past hour (right) would trigger physical activity in shorter period of time. Participants who saw that they walked 10 or less min over the past hour had a 77% probability of starting a new walk in the next 5 min.
The TickTock prototype (left) portrays periods in which one was physically active over the past hour. Witnessing that one was sedentary over the past hour (right) would trigger physical activity in shorter period of time. Participants who saw that they walked 10 or less min over the past hour had a 77% probability of starting a new walk in the next 5 min.

Most activity trackers will tell you how much have you walked so far in the course of the day. This, of course, is routed in the idea that people set daily walking goals, and feedback serves to make them aware of their performance so they can meet their goal.

With TickTock, we tried to change the logic.  TickTock will only tell you how active you were over the past hour. As a result, TickTock emphasises keeping a balance in your day, i.e. avoiding prolonged periods of sedentarism, which has been found to be a health risk factor independently of the amount of physical activity one performs over the course of a day.

What we found was rather astonishing, I think. I initially thought there must some error in the data. I asked Ruben to scrutinise the data collection script. He couldn’t find any error.

I turns out, TickTock had a profound impact on individual’s behaviours. We performed a linear regression analysis to predict the time people took till their next walk after checking the watch, based on the feedback they received, namely how active (o-60 mins) they were over the past hour. We found this single variable to account for 76% of the variance in the data! For every additional 10 min of physical activity that the participants saw they performed over the past hour, they would take an extra 9.5 min till their next walk. Participants who saw that they walked 10 or less min over the past hour had a 77% probability of starting a new walk in the next 5 min.

What do those findings suggest? First, that these technologies are far from neutral, they emphasise certain ways of living, and as designers, we should pay close attention to the assumptions embedded in our designs and to align feedback with the goal we want to achieve. Second, they highlight they surprising impact glanceable feedback has on individuals behaviours. The habito study highlighted that the dominant mode of use of physical activity trackers is glancing and it serves to support self-regulation of immediate behaviour. This study further demonstrated the power of glanceable feedback in shaping individual’s behaviours.

pdf Gouveia, R., Pereira, F., Karapanos, E., Munson, S., Hassenzahl, M. (2016) Exploring the Design Space of Glanceable Feedback for Physical Activity Trackers, In Proceedings of Ubicomp’16.

Does activity tracking make us happier?

In her recently published work, Jordan Etkin asked individuals to count their steps over the course of a day. Not surprisingly, she found an increase in the number of steps taken as compared to the control condition, when individuals weren’t asked to count their steps. What was more interesting, was that step counting led to a reduction in people’s enjoyment of walking. Etkin argued that by invoking the metaphor of “measuring” and highlighting quantitative outcomes, attention is drawn away from the intrinsic joys of an activity towards external rewards (see Deci et al. 1999). Exercise is experienced a little more like work, which in turn may decrease the likelihood of continued engagement in one’s free time (as found in Etkin’s study).

In other words, instead of supporting people with construing exercise as an enjoyable and meaningful activity to guarantee prolonged engagement, activity trackers might establish mechanisms, which guarantee a short-term increase in physical activity at the risk of potentially detrimental long-term effects.

Of’course, this might be a rather narrow vision of these technologies. No doubt, self-quantification is the dominant narrative in marketing, and often in design. But richer narratives may be found if one looks at the ways in which users appropriate such technologies.

To inquire into this, we surveyed recent, memorable experiences people had with activity trackers, and tried to understand these in terms of need fulfilment, using a theoretical and methodological framework proposed by Sheldon et al., 2001. A factor analysis revealed a two-dimensional structure of users’ experience driven by the needs of physical thriving or relatedness. More than just supporting behavioral change, we found trackers to provide multiple psychological benefits, such as enhancing feelings of autonomy as people gained more control about their exercising regime, or experiencing relatedness, when family members purchased a tracker for relatives and joined them in their efforts towards a better, healthier self. Interestingly, we found that while numerical feedback lost its relevance over time, users continued to wear the tracker for a number of reasons, ranging from the perceived future value of data accumulation, to the mere symbolic empowerment that users felt when wearing the tool.

pdf Karapanos, E., Gouveia, R., Hassenzahl, M., & Forlizzi, J. (2016). Wellbeing in the Making: Peoples’ Experiences with Wearable Activity Trackers. Psychology of Well-Being, 6(1), 1-17.

Technologies for Reflection and Behavior Change