Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 105–114 | Cite as

Habits make smartphone use more pervasive

  • Antti OulasvirtaEmail author
  • Tye Rattenbury
  • Lingyi Ma
  • Eeva Raita
Original Article


Examining several sources of data on smartphone use, this paper presents evidence for the popular conjecture that mobile devices are “habit-forming.” The form of habits we identified is called a checking habit: brief, repetitive inspection of dynamic content quickly accessible on the device. We describe findings on kinds and frequencies of checking behaviors in three studies. We found that checking habits occasionally spur users to do other things with the device and may increase usage overall. Data from a controlled field experiment show that checking behaviors emerge and are reinforced by informational “rewards” that are very quickly accessible. Qualitative data suggest that although repetitive habitual use is frequent, it is experienced more as an annoyance than an addiction. We conclude that supporting habit-formation is an opportunity for making smartphones more “personal” and “pervasive.”


Smartphones Habits Logging data Diary studies 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antti Oulasvirta
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tye Rattenbury
    • 2
  • Lingyi Ma
    • 1
  • Eeva Raita
    • 1
  1. 1.Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIITAalto UniversityHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Intel LabsPortlandUSA

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