Research Projects

The Use of Feedback to Disrupt Habitual Behavior

In collaboration with SandUseFeedbacker Hermsen and Roel Hermans, we examine the use of simple forms of feedback to alter ingrained, habitual behavior. The first product of this research was a review of the literature published in Computers in Human Behavior. Currently, we are testing the use of a particular technology, an augmented fork to provide feedback to the user. This fork vibrates when the user eats quickly in order to slow eating and help people recognize when they are sated. Preliminary results indicate that the fork raises awareness and slows eating.

Gamification and Health

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Brain games can be an effective way to help people “train” and maintain cognitive agility over time. Although game content is based on well-established tasks, the means to motivate people to play remains more of an art than a science. This project tests the impact of different types of feedback commonly used in entertainment-oriented games on intrinsic motivation, enjoyment and performance within a brain game. Our studies reveal that the shared and performance-based feedback is most motivating. Our findings were published in Games for Health where we discuss the implications for brain games specifically and interventions more broadly.

Privacy and Information Sharing in Online Communities

Active sharing in online cancer communities benefits patients. However, many patients refrain from sharing health information online due to privacy concerns. Existing research on privacy emphasizes data security and confidentiality, largely focusing on electronic medical records. Patient preferences around information sharing in online communities remain poorly understood. In this project, we suggest that patients approach online information sharing instrumentally, weighing privacy costs against participation benefits when deciding whether to share certain information. A first study on this topic suggests that patients’ information-sharing intentions depend on dispositional and situational factors. Patients share medical details more willingly than daily life or identity information. The results suggest the need to focus on anonymity rather than privacy in online communities. Our results were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

We recruited study participants from the Dutch patient platform, Kanker.nl.