The UX of Wellbeing - Spheres of Experience

If I were to say the Strava cycling app supports user autonomy, what would that mean?  My sense of control over the interface? My sense of volition as I cycle? Or a greater sense of freedom to pursue my life goals since I can commute confidently anywhere? The problem is, there has been no way to clarify these very different levels at which design can influence a construct like autonomy.

Explicitly differentiating the different spheres in which a technology can influence one's wellbeing or an aspect of it, is essential because the same technology can be supportive at one level but detrimental at another (eg. an app may be very easy to learn to use at the interface level but actually lower a user's sense of competence at an activity level for example via comparison to others).  As such I created a diagram to help make these distinctions more salient.

The "UX of Wellbeing" spheres diagram below was adapted from a version focused on autonomy that I created for a CHI14 workshop (Calvo, Peters, Johnson, Rogers 2014). I've expanded it since to include UX for wellbeing factors more broadly so as not to limit the concept to just autonomy.  After all, the distinction of the spheres is just as relevant to other constructs (eg. competence).

The diagram is included as part of our CHI17 course "Positive Computing: Research & Practice in Wellbeing Technology (Calvo & Peters, 2017) to explain strategies for wellbeing-supportive design.  I have posted it here as well in case others also find it helpful for delving with greater precision into the ways a technology can impact human experience.


Calvo RA, Peters D. Positive Computing: Research & Practice in Wellbeing Technology. In: Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI EA ’17. New York, New York, USA: ACM Press; 2017:1220-1223. doi:10.1145/3027063.3027099.
RA Calvo, D. Peters, D. Johnson, Y. Rogers. Autonomy in Technology DesignProc Ext Abstr 32nd Annu ACM Conf Hum factors Comput Syst - CHI EA ’14. 2014:37-40