Are trackers social actors? The role of self-tracking on self-evaluation

Elçin Hancı, Peter A.M. Ruijten, Joyca Lacroix, Elisabeth T. Kersten-van Dijk, Wijnand A. IJsselsteijn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the increased usage and potential benefits of self-tracking technologies for pursuing healthy lifestyles, the relationship that users have with these personal devices has remained under-studied. The current paper presents a field study to explore the perceived role of self-tracking devices as social actors. Participants received a pedometer which they carried on their person for one day. Users’ access to numerical feedback and the feeling of being tracked were manipulated, and users were interviewed afterwards regarding their experiences and their perceived social relationship to the tracker. Results of a thematic analysis indicated that in general, the feeling of being tracked led to higher self-awareness regarding participants’ walking activity. In particular, having access to agent feedback gave rise to more frequent self-evaluative reports towards one’s performance as well as a closer relationship between the device and its user. The results extend the CASA (Computers As Social Actors) paradigm by demonstrating that the capturing (and feeding back) of data can make a device be perceived as a social actor and be described in relational terms, even in the absence of clear social cues.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPersuasive Technology
Subtitle of host publicationDevelopment of Persuasive and Behavior Change Support Systems - 14th International Conference, PERSUASIVE 2019, Proceedings
EditorsKhin Than Win, Evangelos Karapanos, Eleni Kyza, Harri Oinas-Kukkonen, Pasi Karppinen
Place of Publication|Cham
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9783030172862
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019
Event14th International Conference on Persuasive Technology, PERSUASIVE 2019 - Limassol, Cyprus
Duration: 9 Apr 201911 Apr 2019

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume11433 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference14th International Conference on Persuasive Technology, PERSUASIVE 2019


  • Self-evaluation
  • Self-tracking
  • Social actor


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