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Nov 05, 2008

HSI ’09: Special Session on Positive Technology

I have been invited to organize a special session on Positive Technology at the 2nd IEEE Conference on Human System Interactions (May 21-23, 2009 University of Catania, Italy).

This will be a great opportunity for interested researchers and developers to explore common ground, share current experiences and discuss future developments of this emerging research field.

Below is the session abstract (the full call for papers can be is available here):

Information and communication technologies are becoming more ubiquitous and pervasive, shaping the ways we communicate, collaborate and make new relationships. However, the massive proliferation of digital devices and services raises an important question: are computers making us happy? Are new technologies actually improving the quality of our life, by enhancing our opportunities for growth and self-expression, making us feel safer and more connected? Are they rather enhancing automation, constraints on personal initiative, and compulsive consumption of information?

The recent and growing interest towards these issues is paving the way for a new research area, called “Positive Technology”. The main objective of this approach is the identification of design principles for computer-based applications and services that promote positive growth at the individual, social and cultural levels.

Interdisciplinary in nature, Positive Technology lies at the intersection of three fields: Positive Psychology, Interaction Design and Cognitive Neuroscience.

- Positive Psychology is a discipline whose broad goals are to understand the human strengths and virtues, and to promote these strengths to allow individuals, communities, and societies to flourish. In its current conception, Positive Psychology has three levels of analysis: the subjective, the individual and the group. The subjective level is concerned with people positive subjective experiences (i.e. life satisfaction, positive emotions, optimism). The individual level focuses on positive personality traits, which include among others: courage, wisdom, perseverance, creativity, interpersonal skills, spirituality and high talent. Finally, the group level of analysis explores the civic virtues and institutions such as civility, responsibility, altruism, nurturance, tolerance and work ethics, which promote better citizenship.

- Interaction design focuses on the development of interfaces that are easy and enjoyable to use. The incorporation of positive psychology principles in the ID process should allow the development of novel interaction models, which are able to promote positive aspects of user’s behaviour, such as curiosity and creativity, as well as fostering positive emotions and deep engagement

- Cognitive neuroscience the contribution of this discipline to Positive Technology is three-fold: a) to identify the neural underpinnings of positive emotions, and discover the long-lasting effects of optimal experiences on brain processes; b) to examine the neuropsychological correlates of users’ satisfaction, the most used dependent variable in HCI research (as well as the hardest to measure); c) to identify strategies and mechanisms (i.e. neurogenesis and neuroplasticity) that promote an efficient use of brain resources.


- Computer-based interventions for well-being
- Role of positive affect and happiness in HCI
- Information technology effects on well-being
- Technology-based applications and services for stress management
- Models of optimal experience in HCI
- Designing for creativity and self-improvement
- Spirituality and computing
- Cognitive enhancement/assisted cognition
- Web 2.0 and positive social change

Andrea Gaggioli Faculty of Psychology, Catholic University of Milan
Giuseppe Riva Faculty of Psychology, Catholic University of Milan

Deadline for submission: January 09, 2009
Notification of papers acceptance: February 09, 2009
Final manuscripts due: April 06, 2009

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