Don't kick the habit: The role of dependency in habit formation apps

Ian Renfree, Daniel Harrison, Paul Marshall, Katarzyna Stawarz, Anna Cox

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

20 Citations (Scopus)
236 Downloads (Pure)

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.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI EA '16 Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Pages2932-2939
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781450340823
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2016
Event34th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2016: chi4good - San Jose, United States
Duration: 7 May 201612 May 2016
Conference number: 34
https://chi2016.acm.org/wp/

Conference

Conference34th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2016
Abbreviated titleCHI 2016
CountryUnited States
CitySan Jose
Period7/05/1612/05/16
OtherFor those who are finding out about CHI – pronounced kai – for the first time, CHI is a place to see, discuss and learn about the future of how people interact with technology. At any minute you might experience a new gesture interface for tablets, learn how developing countries use mobile phones for maternal health, play soccer against someone 3000 miles away, or debate the future of online education. You’ll meet with top researchers from universities, corporations and startups from across the world, as well as the brightest student scientists, designers, and researchers. It’s a place to find your community, to talk about your toughest problems, and to find your next job.
Internet address

Keywords

  • Behavior change
  • Habit formation
  • Reminders
  • Smartphone apps
  • Streaks

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  • Cite this

    Renfree, I., 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. 2932-2939). Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). https://doi.org/10.1145/2851581.2892495