Mobile Support Systems for Behaviour Change is a NWO-MVI funded research project at Eindhoven University of Technology, in collaboration with and co-funded by Philips Research.

The rapid development of mobile devices and social media opens up tremendous opportunities for support systems that promote a healthier lifestyle by helping to change the user’s behavior. These systems have an enormous potential for preventing chronic illnesses and reducing healthcare costs. They are also becoming increasingly personalized. As data gathered on individual behavior patterns increase in depth and breadth, opportunities arise for more personally tailored solutions for behavior change – including solutions tailored to personal habits, social, and physical contexts, time variant events, and physiological patterns. However, widespread adoption of apps for health self-management remains low.

In this study we address three key issues that are crucial for the success of mobile support systems for health behavior: trust, consent, and intrinsic motivation. Mobile technologies are “nebulous” in the sense that they involve both a “cloud” of data and a set of physical devices, their effects are often unpredictable, and the underlying decision mechanisms by which they achieve their effects are opaque to users. This makes it difficult to trust them and to consent to their use. We aim to develop new ways in which users can trust nebulous mobile systems and a new model to consent to their use. We also address an important concern with these systems: that they may change the intrinsic motivation for healthy behavior to a less powerful extrinsic motivation based on external rewards. These topics are studied in an interdisciplinary way, using expertise from ethics, psychology and artificial intelligence/cognitive science.

The study is divided into two sub-projects:

  1. Psychology: ‘Trust and motivation in mobile behaviour change support systems.’
  2. Ethics: ‘Rethinking trust and consent in mobile behaviour change support systems.’