Habits make smartphone use more pervasive

Antti Oulasvirta*, Tye Rattenbury, Lingyi Ma, Eeva Raita

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

796 Citations (Scopus)


Examining several sources of data on smartphone use, this paper presents evidence for the popular conjecture that mobile devices are "habit-forming. " The form of habits we identified is called a checking habit: brief, repetitive inspection of dynamic content quickly accessible on the device. We describe findings on kinds and frequencies of checking behaviors in three studies. We found that checking habits occasionally spur users to do other things with the device and may increase usage overall. Data from a controlled field experiment show that checking behaviors emerge and are reinforced by informational "rewards" that are very quickly accessible. Qualitative data suggest that although repetitive habitual use is frequent, it is experienced more as an annoyance than an addiction. We conclude that supporting habit-formation is an opportunity for making smartphones more "personal" and "pervasive."

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalPersonal and Ubiquitous Computing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Diary studies
  • Habits
  • Logging data
  • Smartphones


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