The CHARM team developed a mobile phone application that combined accelerometer and GPS technologies to capture the number of steps people walk and feed this information back to them. We then conducted a randomised control trial with 165 male Bristol residents to find out whether the feedback influenced their walking behaviour. For 8 weeks, participants carried a phone in their pockets that had a version of the bActive app on it. Two-thirds of them were able to interact with the app and see data about either their own walking or their own and other participants' walking; the remaining third were not able to interact with the app at all and received no feedback. As well as the data on participants’ activity during the study, we also collected pre- and post-trial survey data and conducted post-trial focus groups and interviews.
Findings from this research were published in three peer-reviewed journals: Sociology of Health & Illness, BMC Public Health and INTERACT.
The Home Energy Study applied the CHARM approach to the consumption of electricity in domestic properties. We developed digital technology to capture hourly data on household electricity consumption and designed graphic vehicles to feed this data back to participants on a website and by email. We then recruited over 300 Bristol households for an 18-week randomised controlled trial. During the trial a third of households received feedback that showed hour-by-hour data about their own consumption and that of others in their neighbourhood; a third were only shown feedback on their own consumption, and the remainder received no feedback.
Findings from this research were published in the European Journal of Marketing.
With the help of the wider CHARM team, PhD student Kavita Patel developed a Facebook application that captured and fed back question-responses in a quiz about sustainable lifestyles that each participant repeated seven times over a number of months. To encourage participation, each quiz completion was rewarded by access to a new sustainability-related game and entry to a prize draw.
This, like the other CHARM studies, was a randomised controlled trial. Whenever they had answered a question, a third of the sample were reminded of the answer they had given the last time they completed the quiz. Another third (those in the social norms condition) were told not only what their own previous answer had been but also the average response given by other users. Those in the control group received no feedback at all. As well as collecting the data from the quizzes and a subsequent survey, Kavita conducted in-depth interviews.