• Tina Ekhtiar
  • Rúben Gouveia
  • Armağan Karahanoğlu
  • Geke Ludden,


Setting achievable, realistic goals aligned to people’s current abilities and needs is an important part of behavior change. Reflection is a critical part of this process, as it helps people identify and elicit appropriate goals. Commercial applications that support behavior change often use goal setting; however, we know very little about if these implementations are based on theory and how they support reflection. In this paper, we analyze how popular health tracking apps support reflection during goal setting. We found that a majority supported limited or no reflection during the elicitation of goals. We discuss our findings and suggest design considerations for improving how these tools can help people in reflecting and eliciting goals.



Abishkking Limited. (2014). Period Tracker Period Calendar (2.32.0) [Computer software].
Abishkking Limited. (2017). Home Workout—No Equipment (1.10.0) [Computer software].
Abishkking Limited. (2018). Six Pack in 30 Days—6 Pack (1.7.0) [Computer software]. https://apps.ap-
Apptopia. (2021, November 1). ITunes Connect Top Apps Analysis for Health & Fitness in The United
States. Free App Store Rank Data for ITunes Connect Monday, November 1, 2021. https://appto-
Avishai, A., Conner, M., & Sheeran, P. (2019). Setting Realistic Health Goals: Antecedents and Conse-
quences. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 53(12), 1020–1031.

Baretta, D., Bondaronek, P., Direito, A., & Steca, P. (2019). Implementation of the goal-setting com-ponents in popular physical activity apps: Review and content analysis. DIGITAL HEALTH, 5,205520761986270., E. P. S., Khovanskaya, V., Matthews, M., Reynolds, L., Schwanda Sosik, V., & Gay, G. (2014).Reviewing reflection: On the use of reflection in interactive system design. Proceedings of the2014 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, 93–102. (2012). Calm: Sleep & Meditation (5.30.1) [Computer software]., L. (2021, October 1). Leading Android health apps in the U.S. 2021, by downloads [Statisical].Statistica., D. E., Yang, C.-H., & Maher, J. P. (2014). Behavior Change Techniques in Top-Ranked MobileApps for Physical Activity. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 46(6), 649–652., S. (2012). Designing for Healthy Lifestyles: Design Considerations for Mobile Technologiesto Encourage Consumer Health and Wellness. Foundations and Trends® in Human–Computer In-teraction, 6(3–4), 167–315., D. A., Caldeira, C., Figueiredo, M. C., Lu, X., Silva, L. M., Williams, L., Lee, J. H., Li, Q., Ahuja,S., Chen, Q., Dowlatyari, P., Hilby, C., Sultana, S., Eikey, E. V., & Chen, Y. (2020). Mapping and Tak-ing Stock of the Personal Informatics Literature. Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile,Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies, 4(4), 1–38., C., Aggarwal, S., Lee, B., & Wilcox, L. (2018). People Like Me: Designing for Reflection on Ag-gregate Cohort Data in Personal Informatics Systems. Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mo-bile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies, 2(3), 1–21., Inc. (2014). Fitbit: Health & Fitness (3.51) [Computer software]. (2008). Lose it! Calorie Counter (13.6.302) [Computer software]., R., & Fitzpatrick, G. (2010). Reflecting on reflection: Framing a design landscape. Proceedingsof the 22nd Conference of the Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group of Australia onComputer-Human Interaction – OZCHI ’10, 216. Health, Inc. (2015). Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker (8.1) [Computer software]., R., Karapanos, E., & Hassenzahl, M. (2015). How do we engage with activity trackers?: Alongitudinal study of Habito. Proceedings of the 2015 ACM International Joint Conference on Per-vasive and Ubiquitous Computing – UbiComp ’15, 1305–1316. Inc. (2012). Headspace: Meditation & Sleep (3.192.0) [Computer software]., K., & Lógó, E. (2020). User Experience Evaluation Methodology in the Onboarding Process:Snapchat Case Study. Ergonomics in Design: The Quarterly of Human Factors Applications,106480462096227.ğlu, A., Gouveia, R., Reenalda, J., & Ludden, G. (2021). How Are Sports-Trackers Used byRunners? Running-Related Data, Personal Goals, and Self-Tracking in Running. Sensors, 21(11),3687. Ekhtiar, Rúben Gouveia, Armağan Karahanoğlu, Geke Ludden16Kocielnik, R., Xiao, L., Avrahami, D., & Hsieh, G. (2018). Reflection Companion: A Conversational Sys-tem for Engaging Users in Reflection on Physical Activity. Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive,Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies, 2(2), 1–26., G. P., Winters, D. C., & Locke, E. A. (1994). Cognitive and motivational effects of participa-tion: A mediator study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15(1), 49–63., M. K., Kim, J., Forlizzi, J., & Kiesler, S. (2015). Personalization revisited: A reflective approachhelps people better personalize health services and motivates them to increase physical activity.Proceedings of the 2015 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Compu-ting – UbiComp ’15, 743–754., I., Dey, A., & Forlizzi, J. (2010). A stage-based model of personal informatics systems. Proceedingsof the 28th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI ’10, 557., E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task moti-vation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57(9), 705–717., E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2019). The development of goal setting theory: A half century retro-spective. Motivation Science, 5(2), 93–105., F. C. (2011). Goal-Setting Theory of Motivation. International Journal of Management,Business, and Administration, 15(1), 6.Middelweerd, A., Mollee, J. S., van der Wal, C. N., Brug, J., & te Velde, S. J. (2014). Apps to promotephysical activity among adults: A review and content analysis. International Journal of BehavioralNutrition and Physical Activity, 11(1), 97., S. A., Schroeder, J., Karkar, R., Kientz, J. A., Chung, C.-F., & Fogarty, J. (2020). The Im-portance of Starting With Goals in N-of-1 Studies. Frontiers in Digital Health, 2, 3., Inc. (2005). MyFitnessPal (21.23.5) [Computer software]., W., Li, L., Kononova, A., Cotten, S., Kamp, K., & Bowen, M. (2021). Habit Formation in WearableActivity Tracker Use Among Older Adults: Qualitative Study. JMIR MHealth and UHealth, 9(1),e22488., A. C., Torous, J., Chan, S., Raynor, G. S., Shwarts, E., Shanahan, M., & Landman, A. B. (2016).Interrater Reliability of mHealth App Rating Measures: Analysis of Top Depression and SmokingCessation Apps. JMIR MHealth and UHealth, 4(1), e15., H., Castaneda-Sceppa, C., Hoffman, J. A., Seif El-Nasr, M., & Parker, A. (2021). StoryMap:Using Social Modeling and Self-Modeling to Support Physical Activity Among Families of Low-SESBackgrounds. Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems,1–14., M. K., Horowitz, M., & Townsend, M. S. (2004). Goal Setting as a Strategy for Dietary and Phys-ical Activity Behavior Change: A Review of the Literature. American Journal of Health Promotion,19(2), 81–93. Ltd. (2016). Sweatcoin Walking Step Counter (105.0) [Computer software]. during goal setting17Woźniak, P. W., Kucharski, P. P., de Graaf, M. M. A., & Niess, J. (2020). Exploring Understandable Al-gorithms to Suggest Fitness Tracker Goals that Foster Commitment. Proceedings of the 11th Nor-dic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Shaping Experiences, Shaping Society, 1–12.

The SELF Institute