The Quantified Self

Is wearable technology actually going to encourage healthier behaviours and habits?

Several large technology companies developing self-tracking wearable devices to track physical activity, monitor health markers and even detect health conditions, would probably assume so.

Some life and health insurers are encouraging the use of such devices to engage healthy customers and incentivize healthy behaviours among their existing policyholders. But while these devices are increasing in popularity, their long-term effectiveness is still in question.

Evidence indicates that for healthy behaviours such as physical activity to improve health they need to be maintained over time, and combined with others, such as eating and sleeping well. In order to really improve health outcomes, wearable technology needs to address barriers to creating new habits and to influence automatic decision-making processes. Principles of behaviour change – many of which are well documented in the psychology literature – need to go hand in hand with the use of wearables and platforms such as self-tracking apps.  

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