Change of Heart

Emotion Tracking to Promote Behavior Change

Preventable behaviors contribute to many life threatening health problems. Behavior-change technologies have been deployed to modify these, but such systems typically draw on traditional behavioral theories that overlook affect. We examine the importance of emotion tracking for behavior change. First, we conducted interviews to explore how emotions influence unwanted behaviors. Next, we deployed a system intervention, in which 35 participants logged information for a self-selected, unwanted behavior (e.g., smoking or overeating) over 21 days. 16 participants engaged in standard behavior tracking using a Fact-Focused system to record objective information about goals. 19 participants used an Emotion-Focused system to record emotional consequences of behaviors. Emotion-
Focused logging promoted more successful behavior change and analysis of logfiles revealed mechanisms for success: greater engagement of negative affect for unsuccessful days and increased insight were key to motivating change. We present design implications to improve behavior-change technologies with emotion tracking.

CHI 2015

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