HealthyTogether: Exploring Social Incentives for Mobile Fitness Applications

December 24, 2013
Title: HealthyTogether: Exploring Social Incentives for Mobile Fitness Applications
Dates: 2012 – present
Researchers: Yu Chen and Pearl Pu
Keywords: Mobile fitness applications; gamification; competition; cooperation, group interaction.
Abstract: A crucial element in many mobile fitness applications is gamification that makes physical activities fun. While many methods focus on competition and individual users’ interaction with the game, the aspect of social interaction and how users play games together in a group remains an open subject. To investigate these issues, we developed a mobile game, HealthyTogether, to understand how users interact in different group gamification settings: competition, cooperation, or hybrid. We describe the results of a user study involving 18 dyads (N=36) over a period of two weeks. Results show that users significantly enhanced physical activities using HealthyTogether compared with when they exercised alone by up to 15%. Among the group settings, cooperation (21% increase) and hybrid (18% increase) outperformed competition (8% increase). Additionally, users sent significantly more messages in cooperation setting than hybrid and competition. Furthermore, physical activities are positively correlated with the number of messages they exchanged.
Sponsor: Swiss National Science Foundation
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