Investigating the effect of providing vicarious feedback/experience through technology

Investigating the effect of providing vicarious feedback/experience through technology

Background and problem statement

Numerous technology-supported physical activity interventions have been developed to improve the level of physical activity in the general population. These services seem promising and effective in the short-term. However, long-term effectiveness and adherence is poor. Incorporating behavioural change theories are hypothesized to offer a solution. We expect that a service that successfully incorporates such insights will be more effective in achieving a real and lasting change in behaviour. Therefore, we should first investigate whether traditional behaviour change theories have the same effect when applied through technology.


Research repeatedly shows that self-efficacy is a powerful predictor of actual performance of behaviour. Also, people who have a high level of self-efficacy regarding physical activity show a larger increase in level of physical activity during an intervention period than people with a low level of self-efficacy. Therefore, when low, self-efficacy should be increased to achieve optimal effectiveness. Bandura (1994) describes four sources which can be used to influence self-efficacy: enactive mastery experience, vicarious experience, verbal (or social) persuasion, and physiological / affective states.

Whether these sources can also be used in technology-supported interventions is a subject currently under investigation. A recent lab study indicated that enactive mastery experience indeed has the potential to change self-efficacy and behaviour in technology-supported interventions. The challenge for the current student is to determine whether this is true for vicarious experience. This includes design, set-up and execution of a short lab study, in which users have to perform a task. The task will be the following: walk from A to B in exactly 14, 16, or 18 seconds, wearing scuba fins and a blind fold, the closer to the target time, the better their performance. Vicarious feedback can be incorporated by, for example, showing a short movie of similar others’ performance before every trial.


Literature study

Set up expert workshop or questionnaire



Thesis writing

Educational program



Research theme

From Human Sensory-Motor Function to Patient-Practitioner Interaction

Principal Investigator track

Miriam Vollenbroek

Supervision and info

Reinoud Achterkamp (