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Lived Experiences of Mental Workload in Everyday Life

Midha, Serena; Wilson, Max L.; Sharples, Sarah

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Serena Midha

Professor of Human Factors


We can now buy consumer brain-computer interface devices to help us meditate and focus, but what are we aiming to achieve? Mental workload (MWL) is an established concept, and as a form of personal data could be useful for making positive life changes. However, MWL is typically only studied for isolated tasks to avoid overload and underload. We investigated lived experiences of MWL, aiming to understand how tracking such data could implicate our everyday lives. 19 participants, that had previously experienced tracking their mental workload, took part in interviews and an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis identified four superordinate themes. Results point towards mixed and changing perceptions of MWL and the importance of fluctuating between MWL levels in daily life in terms of performances, perceptions, and wellbeing. These findings are captured in an apparent Cycle, which outside factors can disrupt, and we discuss these cycles in terms of personal informatics and work performance.

Conference Name CHI '22: CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Conference Location New Orleans LA USA
Start Date Apr 30, 2022
End Date May 5, 2022
Acceptance Date Feb 10, 2022
Online Publication Date Apr 29, 2022
Publication Date Apr 29, 2022
Deposit Date Mar 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date Apr 29, 2022
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Pages 1-16
Book Title CHI '22 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
ISBN 9781450391573
Public URL
Publisher URL 10.1145/3491102.3517690
Related Public URLs
Additional Information Article 282.


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