Wearables and User Interface Design: Impacts on Belief in Free Will


This research investigates the social implications of sensor driven self-quantification technologies designed to direct user behaviors. These self-sensoring prescriptive applications (SSPA’s), often referred to as “wearables,” have a strong presence in healthcare as a means to monitor and improve health, modify behavior, and reduce medical costs. However, the commercial sector is quickly adopting SSPA’s to monitor and/or modify consumer behaviors as well [1, 2, 3]. Interestingly, the direct impact biosensor data have on user decision making, attitude formation, and behavior has not been well researched. SSPA’s offer an opportunity for users to monitor the “self” in terms of quantitative, objective, biological terms that may be beyond the user’s control. Research suggests some states of the body (e.g. chronic pain, hunger) can affect underlying beliefs in free will (BFW), finding that the less control a person has over those physical states, the weaker their BFW [4]. It is not known, however, whether reminders about physical states of the body, such as heart rate monitors used during exercise, may also serve to reduce BFW. This is an important gap in knowledge when considering that reduced BFW can have numerous negative impacts on individual behavior [5, 6, 7]. This preliminary work examined the impact of such technologies on underlying BFW. Participants who monitored their heart rate during a short walk using a wearable heart rate and activity tracker had lower BFW than participants who merely look at the device’s various tracking features and participants in the control condition.

Meeting Name

19th International Conference, HCI International (2017: Jul. 9-14, Vancouver, BC, Canada)


Psychological Science

Keywords and Phrases

Belief in free will; Wearable; Activity tracker; Self-quantification; Self-sensoring

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2017 Springer International Publishing , All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jul 2017