Towards More Interactive Stress-Related Self-monitoring Tools to Improve Quality of Life
Self-monitoring with diaries is one way to identify stress causing events and the respective personal reactions. Considering the broad distribution of smartphones over the past decade, an interactive stress diary application (app) was developed. Diary entries are linked to changes in the appearance of an avatar to support regular usage behavior through vicarious reinforcement.
To investigate the effectiveness of this interactive feature on actual user behavior, 55 young adults randomly received one of two versions of the self-monitoring app, one with vicarious reinforcement (experimental group) and one with no changes in the avatar (control group). After a four week test interval, participants were asked for feedback. Moreover, participants filled out standardized psychometric questionnaires measuring the subjective stress level, occurrence of daily hassles, quality of sleep, and physical symptoms.
Diary entries were correlated with the scores of the respective standardized psychometric questionnaires, indicating convergent validity of the diary categories. A significant increase of missing diary entries over time was found for the control group only. In line with this finding, participants of the experimental group stated that watching the avatar’s change over time was fun. These results are a first step towards more interactive stress-related self-monitoring tools to improve quality of life.
KeywordsAvatar Vicarious reinforcement Diary Smartphone App
Special thanks are due to Ann-Kathrin Beck, Nesibe Elibol and Stefanie Scülfort for supporting the data collection. The junior research group wearHEALTH is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF, reference number: 16SV7115).
- 1.Kanfer FH, Gaelick-Buys L (1991) Self-management methods. In: Kanfer FH, Goldstein AP (eds) Helping people change. A textbook of methods, pp 305–360. Allyn and Bacon, BostonGoogle Scholar
- 2.Kanfer FH (1970) Self-regulation: research, issues and speculations. In: Neuringer C, Michael JL (eds) Behavior modification in clinical psychology. Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York, pp 178–220Google Scholar
- 8.Mattson DC (2016) Usability evaluation of the digital anger thermometer app. Health Inf J 23:234–245Google Scholar
- 9.Smedberg Å, Sandmark H (2012) Design of a mobile phone app prototype for reflections on perceived stress. In: eTELEMED 2012: the fourth international conference on eHEALTH, telemedecine, and social medicine, pp 243–248. IARIAGoogle Scholar
- 14.Traue HC, Hrabal V, Kosarz P (2000) Alltagsbelastungsfragebogen (ABF): Zur inneren Konsistenz, Validierung und Stressdiagnostik mit dem deutschsprachigen Daily Stress Inventory. Verhaltenstherapie und Verhaltensmedizin 21:15–38Google Scholar
- 19.Parks P, Cruz R, Ahn SJ (2014) Don’t hurt my avatar: the use and potential of digital self-representation in risk communication. Int J Robots Educ Art 4:10–20Google Scholar
- 21.Burigat S, Chittaro L (2014) Designing a mobile persuasive application to encourage reduction of users’ exposure to cell phone RF emissions. In: Hutchison D, Kanade T, Kittler J, Kleinberg JM, Kobsa A, Mattern F, Mitchell JC, Naor M, Nierstrasz O, Pandu Rangan C et al (eds) Persuasive technology, vol 8462, pp 13–24. Springer International Publishing, ChamGoogle Scholar
- 22.Lin JJ, Mamykina L, Lindtner S, Delajoux G, Strub HB (2006) Fish‘n’Steps: encouraging physical activity with an interactive computer game. In: Dourish P (ed) Proceedings of the 8th international conference on ubiquitous computing, vol. 4206, pp 261–278. Springer, Berlin, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
- 24.Hoffmann A, Christmann CA, Bleser G (2017) Gamification in stress management apps. A critical app review. JMIR Serious Games 5:e13Google Scholar
- 27.Agudo A (2018) Measuring intake of fruit and vegetables. http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/f&v_intake_measurement.pdf. Accessed 17 Apr 2018
- 28.Christmann CA, Zolynski G, Hoffmann A, Bleser G (2017) Effective visualization of long term health data to support behavior change. In: Duffy VG. (ed) Proceedings of the Digital human modeling. Applications in health, safety, ergonomics, and risk management: ergonomics and design: 8th international conference, DHM 2017, held as part of HCI International 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 9–14 July 2017, pp 237–247. Springer, ChamGoogle Scholar
- 31.Hirshkowitz M, Whiton K, Albert SM, Alessi C, Bruni O, DonCarlos L, Hazen N, Herman J, Katz ES, Kheirandish-Gozal L, Neubauer DN, O’Donnell AE, Ohayon M, Peever J, Rawding R, Sachdeva RC, Setters B, Vitiello MV, Ware JC, Adams Hillard PJ (2015) National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep. Health 1(1):40–43Google Scholar
- 33.Christmann CA, Hoffmann A, Zolynski G, Bleser G (2018) Stress-Mentor: linking gamification and behavior change theory in a stress management application, In: Stephanidis C (ed) HCII posters 2018, CCIS, vol 851. Springer, ChamGoogle Scholar