Research Strand 4: Personal Informatics and Behaviour Change

A study led by Dr Anna Cox and supported by Dr Emily Collins and Marta Cecchinato, based at University College London Interaction Centre (UCLIC), in collaboration with Dr Jon Bird at City University London.

The Research

We are interested in exploring people’s awareness and behaviours in relation to both their general technology practices (e.g. what percentage of their work time is spent on what they may regard as ‘non-productive’ activities) and their specific practices with regards to their social networking and email habits (e.g. when, where, and how often they check email). We are investigating whether and how existing personal informatics software tools can promote deep reflection on time usage and work-life balance issues, and how such technologies may be used to induce what we are calling ‘digital epiphanies’: moments in people’s lives where they pause to reflect on and seek change in their work-life balance and digital practices. We will also implement new tools that aim to support new email habits such as checking for new messages less frequently and reducing the number of messages composed and sent, with the aim of providing respondents with a greater sense of control over their digital practices and the perceived expectations of others regarding immediate responses. This may in turn have a positive influence on work-life balance.

Our Participants and Methods

We are interested in conducting experimental, ‘in the wild’ studies, which provide an opportunity to directly observe behaviour in the situations in which it naturally occurs. We therefore recruit participants most likely to be affected by the practices, technology or habits we are studying. For instance, as students are the biggest users of social networking sites, we have focused on this subset when looking at social networking behaviours. Conversely, employees who rely heavily on e-mail, such as academics and office workers have been our focus when investigating e-mail habits.

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more about these studies, please contact Anna Cox or Emily Collins.

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