CHI 2016

Designing technology to foster psychological wellbeing

This course was held May 10th, 2016 in the San Jose Convention Centre as part of the ACM Computer-Human Interaction Conference (course info on the CHI 2016 website).

Thanks to everyone who participated!


From functionality to usability to the user experience, HCI has moved toward ever-greater human-centeredness. In the dawn of a new era, we turn to psychological wellbeing. 

It is only by designing technology with consideration to the impact it has on psychological wellbeing that we can make a happier and healthier (not just more productive) world through technology.  In the same way that economists are measuring wellbeing at the national level, and psychologists have been measuring it at an individual level for decades, it’s time to consciously and systematically consider wellbeing measures in the design and evaluation of all technology.

By turning to well-established methods in fields such as psychology, neuroscience, and economics, we can begin to design, and develop new technologies to foster psychological wellbeing and human potential -- an area of research and practice we have referred to as “positive computing” [1]. In this course we will explore approaches to evaluating and designing for wellbeing determinants like autonomy [3,5], competence [5], connectedness [5], meaning [4], and compassion [2], as a first step towards a future in which all digital experience supports flourishing.

Program for Tuesday 10th May:
Part 1: 2:30 - 3:50pm
3:50 - 4:30 coffee and networking
Part 2: 4:30-5:50pm


This course will provide you with: 
  • Theoretical foundation - Understanding of the relevant theory and evidence from multiple disciplines that can inform technology design & evaluation for wellbeing.
  • Practical frameworks for integrating psychological wellbeing into planning, ideation, analysis, and evaluation of new technologies.
  • A broader, deeper, and multidimensional understanding of the ways technology use scenarios impact wellbeing.
  • Review of the state of the art - Exposure to a range of case studies, and examples of technologies designed to promote psychological wellbeing and its determinants.
  • Group-generated design strategies and ideation for better supporting wellbeing in your current and future projects.
  • A copy of the resource text Positive Computing for reference.*

Content of the course includes: A summary of relevant wellbeing theory that can be used to inform technology design, a review of current technologies in the positive computing area, a number of frameworks and tools for bridging theory to practice, and a review of validated methods and instruments available for evaluation of wellbeing impact.


Beginning to Advanced HCI professionals interested in design for wellbeing. Pre-requisites None


 Rafael Calvo is Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Sydney and ARC Future Fellow. His publications include The Oxford Handbook of Affective Computing and Positive Computing: Technology for Wellbeing and Human Potential (MIT Press)

Dorian Peters is a designer and author who specializes in design for wellbeing and learning. Creative Leader at the Positive Computing Lab and UX Specialist for the Brain and Mind Cetre, University of Sydney, her books include Interface Design for Learning (New Riders) and Positive Computing (MIT Press).