OBSERVATIONS - Mobile Phones as Motivators in Norway

Yesterday, while taking the subway (Tban) back to the center of town, I was speaking with an older gentleman - also a runner. He was giving me advice on adjusting to life in Norway. In the middle of our conversation, his cell phone beeped, and he reached into his waist pocket to read the text message. (This actually happened a few times on the train). In any case, he read the message and said “ah yes, a workout.” He went on to explain to me that he has an arrangement with one of his friends where they text each other their running workouts after they complete them. He said that this was a way to stay motivated - that knowing he has to report to someone makes him more likely to keep up his training.

So he's using his phone as a tool for social motivation. The really interesting thing is that he arrived at this use on his own, just as my colleagues at the Persuasive Technology lab were conducting a similar study among ourselves - (see Enrique's article here, which I also just mentioned last week). In any case, it seems that there is pretty strong anecdotal evidence that mobile phones can use social motivators to support the achievement of self-selected goals.

-- rolf

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