When video games are used to encourage healthy living

Many people seek to adopt a way healthy living and use their mobile phones to achieve this goal. The health apps and fitness are becoming more and more popular, but many users are leaving them too soon. In a recent study, behavioral scientist Raoul Nuijten explores the games potential to promote a healthier lifestyle.

Indeed, these health applications can indicate the number of steps, count calories, give advice for a healthy diet or tell when to exercise more. However, even after downloading one of these apps, the majority of people end by give it up after a few months.

Furthermore, Raul Nuijtenwanting to know what makes a mobile health application successful, decides to study the function of stimulants. His doctoral thesis is currently in the process of being formally defended at the industrial engineering department.

Factors responsible for influencing behavior

Nuijten used an app he developed to analyze four intervention strategies common in the game world. Through his research, he analyzes influence rewardssocial comparison and personalization on behviour of two different groups of participants.

According to his study, office workers who have health problems due to chronic physical inactivity respond particularly well to financial rewards. Similarly, the second group, consisting of schoolchildren with low socio-economic status, performed better when the application allowed them to compare to others.

A gamification strategy to increase inner energy

Still in the context of his study, Mr. Nuijten points out that the energizing people is not such a simple question and that the main purpose of his research is to motivate people. According to him, the gamification strategies can be considered as offering a greater continuityso people are less likely to quickly abandon an app after a few weeks of use.

It takes time to form a new habit. Apps can provide an answer to this challenge by engaging people over a longer period of time. Not with a single three-week course, as is still often the case today, but with shorter programs offered to people over a period of several months.. »

Raoul Nuijten, behavioral scientist


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