Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


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Committee Chair

Scott Sittig, Ph.D.


Persuasive technology is an umbrella term that encompasses any software (e.g., mobile app) or hardware (e.g., smartwatch) designed to influence users to perform a preferable behavior once or on a long-term basis. Considering the ubiquitous nature of mobile devices across all socioeconomic groups, user behavior modification thrives under the personalized care that persuasive technology can offer. This research examines the roles psychological characteristics play in interpreted mHealth screen perceived persuasiveness. A review of the literature revealed a gap regarding how developers of digital health technologies are often tasked with developing tools designed to engage patients, yet little emphasis has been placed on understanding what psychological characteristics motivate and demotivate their users to engage with digital health technologies. Developers must move past using a cookie-cutter, one size fits all solution, and seek to develop digital health technologies designed to traverse the terrain that navigates between the fluid nature of goals and user preferences. This terrain is often determined by user’s psychological characteristics and demographic (control) variables. An experiment was designed to evaluate how psychological characteristics (self-efficacy, xiv health consciousness, health motivation, and the Big Five personality traits) impact the perceived persuasiveness of digital health technologies utilizing the Persuasive System Design (PSD) framework. This study used multiple linear regressions and Contrast, a publicly available Python implementation of the contrast pattern mining algorithm Search and Testing for Understandable Consistent Contrasts (STUCCO), to study the multifaceted needs of the users of digital health technologies based on psychological characteristics. The results of this experiment show psychological characteristics (selfefficacy, health consciousness, health motivation, and extraversion) enhancing the perceived persuasiveness of digital health technologies. The findings of the study revealed that screens utilizing techniques for the primary task support have high perceived persuasiveness scores. System credibility techniques were found to be a contributor to perceived persuasiveness and should be used in the development of persuasive technologies. The results of this study show practitioners should abstain from using social support techniques. Persuasive techniques from the social support category were found to have very low perceived persuasive scores which indicate a lower ability to persuade mHealth app users to utilize the tool. The findings strongly suggest the distribution of perceived persuasiveness shifts from negatively skewed to positively skewed as participants get older. Additionally, this shift occurs earlier in females (i.e., in the 40-59 age group) compared to males who do not shift until the oldest age group (i.e., in the 60 and older age group). The results imply that an individual user’s psychological characteristics affect interpreted mHealth screen perceived persuasiveness, and that combinations of persuasive principles and psychological characteristics lead to greater perceived persuasiveness.