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Surprise! More people tracking good habits

Submitted by on April 15, 2010 – 3:48 pm7 Comments

We’re learning new stuff everyday since we launched HabitWatch, the iPhone app that prompts people to track their habits.  Since a week or so ago, we’ve been watching the numbers of downloads (pretty normal & climbing steadily) and number of habits entered (both good and bad).

BUT – the thing that surprised us most was that more people (60%) are tracking good habits (i.e. eating veggies), than bad (40%) (i.e. smoking).

At the onset of this project, we had figured more would be attracted to stopping, not starting, an action. Turns out the opposite is true.

Two hypotheses, and I would love to hear yours: a) People are not motivated to track bad habits because it’s another nagging reminder. Pushing a button after you’ve eaten veggies is a reward, not a punishment. Or b) People who are engaged enough in their health to sign up for a health app are probably healthy already, and thus will opt to be more healthy through good habits.

Either way, it opens up an interesting conversation about the possibilities of improving health overall, starting with people motivated enough to want to be better via tracking good habits. If we could somehow encourage these people to be healthy motivators – in their families, in their towns, in their places of work – what could we achieve from passing good habits along? And how can we make it easier for them to share their habits?

For more ideas, check out Jen McCabe’s Get Up and Move, and what the White House is planning with LetsMove.gov. Leave any others I missed below…

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7 Comments »

  • andrew says:

    This makes a lot of sense to me. I mean, would people rather pat themselves on the back or slap themselves in the face? I guess it depends on what kind of person you are talking to.

    I think your hypotheses are correct, especially the one about “people who are engaged enough in their health…” would be more likely to adopt something like this. If you think about it: is it easier to get someone to take another step after they’ve already begun walking, or is it easier to get them off the couch to walk in the first place? I think it’s like inertia or something.

    Anyway, great post!

  • Ted says:

    This is interesting stuff. The data made me immediately think of strengths and weaknesses – which should individuals focus on? I love the idea of making good habits turn into great habits. Either way, interesting observation.

  • Tyvm for that useful information! I wouldnt have discovered this otherwise!

  • Ray Elliott says:

    A high quality write-up having great info. Bookmarked it.

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