Publication: Combating Attrition in Digital Self-Improvement Programs using Avatar Customization

Digital self-improvement programs (e.g., interventions, training programs, self-help apps) are widely accessible, but can not employ the same degree of external regulation as programs delivered in controlled environments. As a result, they suffer from high attrition - even the best programs won't work if people don't use them. We propose that voli-tional engagement - facilitated through avatar customiza-tion - can help combat attrition. We asked 250 participants to engage daily for 3 weeks in a one-minute breathing exer-cise for anxiety reduction, using either a generic avatar or one that they customized. Customizing an avatar resulted in significantly less attrition and more sustained engagement as measured through login counts. The problem of attrition affects self-improvement programs across a range of do-mains; we provide a subtle, versatile, and broadly-applicable solution.

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Participants

Max Birk
University of Saskatchewan
Regan Mandryk
University of Saskatchewan

Citation

Birk, M., Mandryk, R.L. 2018. Combating Attrition in Digital Self-Improvement Programs using Avatar Customization. In CHI '18: Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Montreal, QC, Canada. p. 660 (15 pages). DOI=10.1145/3173574.3174234.

BibTeX

@inproceedings {517-combatingAttrition_cr_v03,
author= {Max Birk and Regan Mandryk},
title= {Combating Attrition in Digital Self-Improvement Programs using Avatar Customization},
booktitle= {CHI '18: Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems},
year= {2018},
address= {Montreal, QC, Canada},
pages= {p. 660 (15 pages)}
}