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Don’t Kick the Habit: The Role of Dependency in Habit Formation Apps

Renfree, IM; Harrison, D; Marshall, P; Stawarz, K; Cox, A; (2016) Don’t Kick the Habit: The Role of Dependency in Habit Formation Apps. In: CHI EA '16 Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. (pp. pp. 2932-2939). ACM publishing: New York, NY, USA. Green open access

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Abstract

Habit formation apps are intended to help instigate and maintain new behaviors. Prior research has established that these apps mostly do not support the theoretical ‘habit’ construct defined in psychology, yet are generally popular and well reviewed in app stores. This apparent mismatch between theory and ‘in-the-wild’ usage has not been investigated to date. Through an in-depth qualitative study of a popular application Lift, this research establishes that common techniques such as reminders and streaks are effective at supporting repetition of new behaviors, but at the same time create a dependency: on-going app use is often required to achieve lasting change. This dependency introduces fragility in users’ attempts to change their behavior, as they often abandon the app and subsequently disengage with their new behaviors.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Don’t Kick the Habit: The Role of Dependency in Habit Formation Apps
Event: Proceedings of the 34th Annual ACM Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Location: San Jose, CA, USA
Dates: 07 May 2016 - 12 May 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1-4503-4082-3
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1145/2851581.2892495
Publisher version: https://chi2016.acm.org/wp/
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright is held by the owner/author(s).
Keywords: Smartphone apps, habit formation, behavior change, streaks, reminders
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > UCL Interaction Centre
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1477627
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