Elizabeth Victoria Eikey

Clara Marques Caldeira

Mayara Costa Figueiredo

Yunan Chen

Jessica L. Borelli

Melissa Mazmanian

Kai Zheng


Personal informatics tools can help users self-reflect on their experiences. When reflective thought occurs, it sometimes leads to negative thought and emotion cycles. To help explain these cycles, we draw from Psychology to introduce the concept of rumination—anxious, perseverative cognition focused on negative aspects of the self—as a result of engaging with personal data. Rumination is an important concept for the Human Computer Interaction community because it can negatively affect users’ well-being and lead to maladaptive use. Thus, preventing and mitigating rumination is beneficial. In this conceptual paper, we differentiate reflection from rumination. We also explain how self-tracking technologies may inadvertently lead to rumination and the implications this has for design. Our goal is to expand self-tracking research by discussing these negative cycles and encourage researchers to consider rumination when studying, designing, and promoting tools to prevent adverse unintended consequences among users.


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