The Complexities of Self-Tracking: An Inquiry into User Reactions and Goal Attainment

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    The activity of self-tracking is an emerging trend that often involves adopting wearable technology. Vendors promise new personal insights and opportunities to optimize health and lifestyle by adopting such devices. Spurred by these promises, users are also driven by curiosity and exploration to adopt and use the device with the aim of quantifying the self for the purpose of self-knowledge through numbers. We investigate the interplay of technology, data and the experience of self during the adoption and use of wearable technology as a pre-commitment device. The empirical focus lies on two self-tracking devices, which track moving and sleeping activities on a daily basis. 42 interviews were conducted with users of self-tracking devices. The findings suggest that self-tracking activity through wearable technology does not necessarily lead to behavioural change, but predominately works as a re-focusing device. In this light, the user experiences tensions between rational and emotional behaviours when reflecting on personal data. The results contribute to a more nuanced understanding of adoption of the emerging wearable technology in daily life and how users deal with the personal data by developing coping tactics, such as disregard, procrastination, selective attribution and neglect.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationECIS 2015 Proceedings
    EditorsJörg Becker, Jan vom Brocke, Marco De Marco
    Number of pages15
    Place of PublicationAtlanta, GA
    PublisherAssociation for Information Systems. AIS Electronic Library (AISeL)
    Publication date2015
    Article number170
    ISBN (Print)9783000502842
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    EventThe 23rd European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) 2015 - Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Münster, Germany
    Duration: 26 May 201529 May 2015
    Conference number: 23


    ConferenceThe 23rd European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) 2015
    LocationWestfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
    Internet address
    SeriesProceedings of the European Conference on Information Systems


    • Experiential computing
    • Quantified self
    • Self-quantification
    • Self-tracking
    • Behavioural economics

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