Translating dialectic dialogues into persuasive coaching strategies for personalized virtual coach: a research protocol for emotional eaters

Vertaalde titel van de bijdrage: Het vertalen van dialectische dialogen naar persuasieve coaching strategieen voor een gepersonaliseerde virtual coach : een onderzoeksprotocol voor emotionele eters

Aranka Dol, Olga Kulyk, Hugo Velthuijsen, Lisette van Gemert-Pijnen, Tatjana van Strien

Onderzoeksoutput: PosterOther research output


Obesity has become a major societal problem worldwide [1][2]. The main reason for severe overweight is excessive intake of energy, in relation to the individual needs of a human body. Obesity is associated with poor eating habits and/or a sedentary lifestyle. A significant part of the obese population (40%) belongs to a vulnerable target group of emotional eaters, who overeat due to negative emotions [3]. There is a need for self-management support and personalized coaching to enhance emotional eaters in recognising and self-regulating their emotions.
Over the last years, coaching systems have been developed for behavior change support, healthy lifestyle, and physical activity support [4]-[9]. Existing virtual coach applications lack systematic evaluation of coaching strategies and usually function as (tele-)monitoring systems. They are limited to giving general feedback to the user on achieved goals and/or accomplished (online) assignments.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) focuses on getting more control over one’s own
emotions by reinforcing skills in mindfulness, emotion regulation, and stress tolerance [10]. Emotion regulation is about recognizing and acknowledging emotions and accepting the fact that they come and go. The behavior change strategies within DBT are based on validation and dialectics [11]. Dialectics changes the users’ attitude and behavior by creating incongruence between an attitude and behavior since stimuli or the given information contradict with each other.
The ultimate goal of the virtual coach is to raise awareness of emotional eaters on their own emotions, and to enhance a positive change of attitude towards accepting the negative emotions they experience. This should result in a decrease of overeating and giving in to binges.
We believe that the integration of the dialectical behavior change strategies and persuasive features from the Persuasive System Design Model by Kukkonen and Harjumaa [12] will enhance the personalization of the virtual coach for this vulnerable group.
We aim at developing a personalized virtual coach ‘Denk je zèlf!’ (Dutch for ‘Develop a wise mind and counsel yourself’) providing support for self-regulation of emotions for young obese emotional eaters. This poster presents an eCoaching model and a research study protocol aiming at the validation of persuasive coaching strategies based on behavior change techniques using dialectical strategies. Based on the context (e.g., location), emotional state of the user, and natural language processing, the virtual coach application enables tailoring of the real-time feedback to the individual user. Virtual coach application communicates with the user over a chat timeline and provides personal feedback.
The research protocol decribes the two weeks field study on validating persuasive coaching strategies for emotional eaters. Participants (N=30), recruited via a Dutch franchise organization of dietitian nutritionists, specialized in treating emotional eating behaviors, will voluntarily participate in this research study. Participants will be presented with short dialogues (existing questions and answers) and will be asked to select the preferred coaching strategy (validating or a dialectical), according to their (current) emotions. To trigger a certain emotion (e.g., the affect that fits best with the chosen coaching strategy), a set of pictures will be shown to the user that evoke respectively sadness, anger, fear, and disgust [13].

Participants will be asked to fill out the demographics data ((nick) name, age, gender, weight, length, place of residence) and three questionnaires:
• Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire (DEBQ) [14],
• Five Factor Personality Inventory (FFPI) [15],
• Quality of Life Index Questionnaire [16].

This research study aims at answering the following research questions: “Which coaching strategies do users with a specific type of emotional eating behavior benefit most from while consulting their personalized virtual coach?; “Which coaching strategies are optimal for which emotions?” and “Which coaching approach do users prefer in which context, e.g. time of the day, before/after a craving?”
Vertaalde titel van de bijdrageHet vertalen van dialectische dialogen naar persuasieve coaching strategieen voor een gepersonaliseerde virtual coach : een onderzoeksprotocol voor emotionele eters
Originele taal-2English
StatusPublished - 4 apr. 2017
Evenement12th International Conference, PERSUASIVE 2017, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, April 4-6, 2017 : Persuasive Technology: Development and implementation of personalized technologies to change attitudes and behaviours - Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duur: 4 apr. 20176 jul. 2017


Conference12th International Conference, PERSUASIVE 2017, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, April 4-6, 2017
Verkorte titelPT2017
Internet adres


  • coaching
  • obesitas

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