Mindtrek conference 2018 10-11 October 2018, Tampere Hall, Tampere, Finland

Workshop date: 10.10.2018

Register by sending an e-mail showing your interest (you can participate even if you have a paper presentation on the same day)


The workshop will take place at Mindtrek conference 2018 with the aim to create a design framework for social comparison (a social influence aspect / psychological theory). The social comparison theory supports that in lack of objective measurements, people compare themselves to others similar to them in order to evaluate their skills, abilities, and in general to understand better themselves. The framework will address a gap in current research focused on the design space of social comparison for health and wellbeing behavior change technologies. The workshop participants are invited to share their experiences and viewpoints on designing behavior change technology using social influence (the influence of others on once behavior). This can include, for example, practical cases or design ideas. These ideas will be consolidated through a framework skeleton pre-constructed by organizers through a literature review and past research.

Benefits for the Participants

The target audience of the workshop are researchers and design practitioners who are interested in the use of behavior change techniques in health and wellbeing. The workshop will facilitate the sharing of experiences on aspects that need to be considered when designing social influence features in technologies that support health behavior change, focusing on social comparison. This will result in a deeper understanding on Social Comparison theory and its different roles in health, wellbeing, and coping in life. The participants will take part in the co-creation of a design framework, which addresses aspects of designing for social comparison, informed from four different perspectives: literature, healthcare professionals, designers, and users. The collaborative work and sharing of experiences will provide opportunities for giving and receiving feedback in a constructive and supportive environment.

ParticipationThe participants voluntarily can write a short paper reflecting on their design experience related to social influence and health behavior change supportive technologies prior to the workshop. The papers will be shared with the participants and it will be their first contact. Participants with no papers will be able to participate and present their experience in the discussion section of the workshop.

Workshop Description & Schedule

The proposed workshop provides an environment to share and exchange practical, methodological and theoretical perspectives on designing for behavior change. In particular, it looks at emerging - but less explored aspects - of using social comparison in the design of health behavior change technological applications. By social comparison, we mean the comparison of one’s data in relation to others for self-enhancement, self-evaluation, coping, support and motivation [3].  In the field of psychology, the social comparison has been proven to have an impact on wellbeing, coping and healthcare [1]. Victimized people (e.g. rape victims) cope better when they are in a group of people similar to them and they do not feel that they deviate [2]. Female breast cancer patients compared with patients worse than them to cope with their condition [5]. People who want to quit smoking have better possibilities on quitting by being in a group together with people who have an easier time than themselves to quit, instead than being in a group with people who have a harder time than them to quit [4]. However, there are no specific guidelines for designing social comparison features in technologies that support health behavior change.

The goal of the workshop is to create both practical and theoretical new knowledge as well as insights on how social comparison can be used to support health behavior change. This will be done by consolidating the input – of both participants and organizers - through co-creation activities into a design framework. The workshop will use a pre-defined social comparison design framework skeleton created by the organizers in order to guide the group work. The participants will bring in their personal experiences and viewpoints, and enrich the framework through interacting with it. The consolidation work will be done through a design case, where the aspect of social comparison will be studied through the process of translating them into an actual design concept.

As a result, the workshop will generate an enriched social comparison design framework, which can be useful for both design practitioners and researchers exploring various aspects of design for behavior change.

Preliminary Timetable

**The timetable may change based on the participation to a half date workshop**

Workshop Activities

  • Discussion part:

    • D1: Participants and organizers discuss their experiences on design social influence features in health-related applications.
    • D2: Short presentation of the social comparison concept followed by a discussion with participants and organizers.
    • D3: Short presentation of a framework skeleton followed by a discussion with participants and organizers.
    • D4: Short presentation of a framework skeleton followed by a discussion with participants and organizers.
  • Hands-on part:

    • H1: Design a health behavior change supportive technology - in a very primary stage - using social comparison, so they can reflect in practice on the discussions.
    • H2: Reflect and discuss the use of the framework as a design aid for social comparison features in the health behavior change supportive technology.


Vasiliki Mylonopoulou (vasiliki.mylo [at] oulu.fi) is a Ph.D. candidate / Early Stage Researcher and Marie Curie Fellow in INTERACT research unit at University of Oulu, Finland. Her background is in HCI and currently, she works on health behavior change supportive technology that motivates people through visualizing the relationship between their data and the data of others. The last three years she used a constructivist interpretivist approach and qualitative methodology to explore the different perspectives on social influence features in health behavior change supportive technological applications focused on social comparison in both theory and practice.

(canceled) Minna Isomursu is a professor of Interaction and Co-design at IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and professor in Information systems at the University of Oulu. Her research explores how the opportunities of digital technologies can be translated into services, which can create value for the ecosystem and society. Her special interests lie in the field of designing for and understanding the perceived experience of value, and design techniques to address the digital nature of services. During the last 10 years, her research projects have mainly examined the use of digital technologies in health and wellbeing services. Professor Isomursu has organized workshops in scientific conferences and in research collaboration settings, for example, a workshop in Pervasive health 2018 conference.

(canceled) Dr. Karin Väyrynen is a researcher in information systems. Her research focuses on communication and collaboration of global virtual teams, on the competitive potential of IT, connected health, and on the digitalization of the taxi industry and platformization. Her research has been published in Electronic Markets, the Journal of Organizational Computing and Electronic Commerce, and in international information system conferences such as the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) and the European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS). She has 12 years of teaching experience; she has conducted more than 40 credits of pedagogical studies, and run workshops in teaching and in the Enject COST action.

Paula Alavesa will replace Minna Isomursu and Karin Väyrynen during the workshop. Paula Alavesa is a Ph.D. candidate at Center for Ubiquitous Computing in University of Oulu, Finland. She received two masters one in computer science in 2013 and a second in Biochemistry 2008 from University of Oulu, Finland. Her research interests are in pervasive gaming, location-based games, player experience, and 3D graphics. 


  1. Bram. Buunk and Frederick X. Gibbons. 2016. Health, coping, and well-being : perspectives from social comparison theory. Routledge.
  2. Dan Coates and Tina Winston. 1983. Counteracting the Deviance of Depression: Peer Support Groups for Victims. Journal of Social Issues 39, 2: 169–194.
  3. Festinger. 1954. A Theory of Social Comparison Processes. Human Relations 7, 2: 117–140.
  4.  Meg Gerrard, Frederick X Gibbons, David J Lane, and Michelle L Stock. 2005. Smoking cessation: social comparison level predicts success for adult smokers. Health psychology : official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association 24, 6: 623–629.
  5. Joanne V Wood, Shelley E Taylor, and Rosemary R Lichtman. 1985. Social Comparison in Adjustment to Breast Cancer. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 49, 5: 1169–1183.


This publication has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme - Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions grant agreement no. 676201 - CHESS - Connected Health Early Stage Researcher Support System.