Vakgroep Psychologie, Gezondheid & Technologie

Title: e-mental health: can a virtual coach increase a user’s motivation?

Type of assignment:                    BA / MA

Internal or external?:                    Internal

Maximum number of students:    2

Individual collecting of data?        Yes

Type of research:                         Quantitative

Description of the assignment:

This assignment can only be done in combination with you master’s thesis.


The Dutch mental healthcare system has an important challenge: provide broader access to therapies at lower costs. E-mental health, the provisioning of online therapies is expected to importantly contribute to resolving this challenge.


Therefore, Positive Psychology techniques have been validated and implemented within the well-received online e-mental health application “Dit is jouw Leven” as developed at the university of Twente, see

However, keeping up motivation of users of e-mental health solutions remain a challenge.

One of the reasons may be that computers often do not provide the user with a human-like appearance. The presentation of a human-like face and displays of empathy on the computer screen can provide the user with a more natural experience which is expected to increase user motivation. These human-like faces with facial emotional displays are called Virtual Coaches.


The objective of the current project is to investigate whether motivational effects can be achieved by a Virtual Coach, in case it is deployed within a Positive Psychology environment. The Virtual Coach has been developed and so have the other experimental requirements, but small improvements can still  be made.


We would like to offer 1 master student the possibility to a) perform an analysis on the deployment of Virtual Caches within the (Dutch) mental healthcare system b) conduct an experimental study on the motivational effects of a Virtual Coach and to co-analyze the results. The results will be presented in your master thesis. In addition, the results will be used as a starting point for the next phase of this research project.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for a motivated master student interested in (innovative) research in the e-healthcare domain. Furthermore, we are looking for someone who masters Dutch on at least a beginners’ level. The student will be able to work from the UTwente during the research period.

What are we offering?

An opportunity to participate within an advanced e-health project within an area that will be very relevant during the coming years.

More information?:  Name: Mark Scholten, Telephone:  06 51409623, Email: