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    WhatsApp and Wellbeing: A study on WhatsApp usage, communication quality and stress

    HCI 2017 - Digital make-believe

    Proceedings of the 31st International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference (HCI 2017)

    University of Sunderland, St Peter’s campus, Sunderland, UK, 3 - 6 July 2017


    Nicole Blabst & Sarah Diefenbach



    A considerable part of everyday communication is online based nowadays. To imagine life without the daily (or even hourly) usage of WhatsApp seems impossible for many people. The present exploratory study (N=135) takes a closer look at the usage of WhatsApp and the psychological consequences. Our study highlights correlations and differences of the usage and experience of specific WhatsApp features (single chats and group chats, Last Seen and Read Receipts) with perceived communication quality and wellbeing, also drawing relations to psychological theory such as human needs framework and need to belong. A high number of single chats was positively correlated with perceived communication profundity but also with perceived stress, and waste of time. Moreover, wellbeing was affected by the individual usage mode and experience of WhatsApp features. For example, perceived stress was significantly higher among participants with active usage of Read Receipts than with passive usage and especially participants who feel stressed by Read Receipts, agreeing to be more relaxed without them, considered WhatsApp communication a waste of time. We discuss implications of our findings on the level of personal usage behaviour as well as HCI research and design in general. We highlight the challenges for the individual to customize technology to support a healthy use in daily life. Finally, the present study emphasizes the need for user experience evaluation on a fine-grained level, taking focus on single features and their consequences, and recognising how their activation or deactivation can eventually change the product character as a whole.


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