“Nudging Users toward Enhanced Self-Regulation: Effects of Force-based Interaction” by Dr. Yang Liu
Dr. Yang Liu
Department of Information Systems & Analytics
National University of Singapore
Many mobile applications use push notifications and reminders to explicitly educate, remind and motivate users to perform healthy behavior. However, users do not always act according to these explicit digital interventions. Our study investigates whether users’ self-regulation in maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be implicitly facilitated with a proper mobile interaction design. Specifically, we investigated the impacts of two touch modes that are supported by force-based interaction technology, i.e., pressing and tapping. Drawing on the theory of embodied cognition, which suggests that people subliminally infer meanings from their bodily actions and feelings, we conjecture that pressing, compared with tapping, may enhance one’s self-regulation because the action of pressing (i.e., clenching one’s hand and tightening one’s muscles) embodies a sense of determination. We test our hypotheses in two field experiments. One experiment is about beverage choice in a university canteen, and the other experiment involves goal setting for gym exercises. The results from the two studies show that inducing users to press during mobile interaction can improve their self-regulation in terms of selecting a healthy but less tasty beverage (Study 1), setting higher goals, and engaging in more physical exercise (Study 2). In addition, such effects were more salient among users with high health awareness and a promotion-focused health orientation. This study contributes to digital intervention literature by proposing physical interaction with devices as a digital nudge.