"Why Behavior Change Apps Fail": active logging vs passive monitoring

An interest article from Tech crunch on why behavior change apps fail to change behavior.

Supports my suspicion that QS apps and devices that require active logging will have a hard time going main stream. The basic problem is sometimes you don’t want to log, and if you don’t the system breaks down. I think the future is apps and devices that give reminders or alerts, where the system doesn’t break down if you ignore the alert. Examples are Lumoback and Hapifork.

You still “have to” wear the Lumoback and you “have to” remember to bring along and use the Hapifork… The author’s point seems to be that instant gratification (e.g. in the form of social integration or gamification) is required to get people to stick with such services–having personal goals is not sufficient. How surprising…

I see the author’s point of how apps with incentives (like social affirmations or gamification) are more FUN to use and I agree with you that passive apps are EASIER to use, but I really think active apps are more EFFECTIVE.

With active apps, you are engaged with your data. You’re forced to think about your day, your actions and your choice. It’s that introspection that fuels personal change. The chore aspect of it is no different than having the discipline to keep a journal.

If an app is completely passive (something those super-secret programs ran by three-letter-agencies) then it can collect all kinds of useful data about you easily BUT you don’t really gain anything from it because you’re not seeing that data daily.

I certainly take FeniV’s point about privacy, and I strongly agree that manipulating and visualizing your data goes part and parcel with taking ownership of your data.

I do not think active logging is sufficient for behavior change. The visualizations and reports make the data actionable. For example, I made a basic app that tracks time I spend on various projects, but I have yet to code a reporting or visualization feature – so currently it is not particularly useful.

In terms of impulse control, one simply has to have the user engage the reports/visualizations at the time of decision, which admittedly is easier if the person is actively logging. That said, some types of visualizations and reports break down if you fail to log, which is more likely when logging is active – especially when it is hard as in the case of food logging.

Agree 100%.

If it’s too easy to do, it’s also too easy to drop it entirely. I worry that too many apps out there are going to be fads because they’re so easy to use that they’re also easy to drop. Make it easy for the user to do something, sure, but make them **do **something – make them make an investment.

After all, you’re trying to create a new behavior, right? That can’t be 100% passive