Niaja Farve PhD Dissertation Defense

April 25, 2016


MIT Media Lab, E14-633


Today’s personal technologies are generally seen as reducing mindfulness. They introduce distractions, stress, privacy concerns and detrimental habits. This can cause an increase in behaviors that are misaligned with personal goals. Current attempts to use technology to improve well-being do not take advantage of some of the benefits that personal technologies have to offer. Specifically, they can intervene ”just-in-time” to nudge the user to reflect on their imminent behavior decision. This thesis focuses on designing mindful technology. It demonstrates how triggers provided by wearable technologies can improve a desired behavior compliance and aid in behavior change. Human behavior researchers have argued that although a user may have the motivation and the ability to change behavior, a trigger is required to make the behavior happen. This thesis introduces a structure for triggers that should be utilized when designing persuasive systems. This structure includes verifying user’s attention, utilizing contextual cues to determine timing of triggers and using personalized messages with a trigger.
Additionally, this thesis presents several experiments in using personal wearable technologies to offer structured just-in-time triggers for behavior. The design and implementation of novel systems as experimental platforms are detailed and data regarding their effectiveness is discussed. These systems highlight how to best use just-in-time triggers and when and how they can be effective. Overall, this thesis attempts to develop methods, systems and best practices that can be used to develop personal technologies that can assist users with mindful behavior.

Host/Chair: Pattie Maes


Renee Gosline (MIT Sloan School of Management)John Guttag ( MIT CSAIL)Peter Szolovits (MIT CSAIL)

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