Motivation-based approach for tailoring persuasive mental health applications

Felwah Alqahtani*, Rita Orji, Heleen Riper, Nicola Mccleary, Holly Witteman, Patrick Mcgrath

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The growing number of people with mental health issues and the worldwide shortage of professionals emphasise the need for tailored persuasive interventions. This paper explores the relationships between the types of motivation individuals experience and their preferences for various features that are widely used in persuasive apps for mental and emotional well-being. First, we reviewed 103 mental health apps from app stores and identified various persuasive features and then conducted focus-group studies of 32 participants. Finally, we implemented the common features in persuasive mental health app prototypes and conducted a large-scale study of 561 users to evaluate their perceived effectiveness. The results reveal that people’s motivation types significantly influence the perceived persuasiveness of different features. People high in intrinsic motivation are more motivated by apps that offer relaxation exercises while providing opportunities to track various mental health-related information. We offer design guidelines for tailoring persuasive mental health apps based on motivation types.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Early online date2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022

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