Technology and Reflection

Mood and Memory Mechanisms for Well-Being

Background: We report a psychologically motivated intervention to explore Technology Mediated Reflection (TMR), the process of systematically reviewing rich digital records of past personal experiences. Although TMR benefits well-being, and is increasingly being deployed, we know little about how one’s mood when using TMR influences these benefits. We use theories of memory and emotion-regulation to motivate hypotheses about the relationship between reflection, mood, and well-being when using technology. We test these hypotheses in a large-scale month long real world deployment using a web-based application, MoodAdaptor. MoodAdaptor prompted participants to reflect on positive or negative memories depending on current mood.

Methods: We evaluated how mood and memory interact during written reflection and measured effects on well-being. We analyzed qualitative and quantitative data from 128 participants who generated 11157 mood evaluations, 5051 log files, 256 surveys, and 20 interviews.

Results: TMR regulated emotion; when participants reflected on memories with valences opposite to their current mood, their mood became more neutral. How- ever this did not impact overall well-being. Our findings also clarify underlying TMR mechanisms. Moods and memories competed with each other; when positive moods prevailed over negative memories, people demonstrated classic mechanisms shown in prior work to influence well-being. When negative moods prevailed over positive memories, memories became negatively tainted.

Conclusions: Our results have implications for new well-being interventions and technologies that capitalize on the interconnectedness of memory and emotion.

PSYWB (special issue of Positive Computing) 2016

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