Are you applying to universities? | SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE Are you applying to universities? | SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE

Exploring the use of home-based IoT systems to support habit formation and long-term health behaviour change [Self Funded Students Only]

   Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Dr Katarzyna Stawarz, Dr Carolina Fuentes Toro, Dr N Verdezoto Dias  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Project Highlights: 

Identify relevant habit formation theories and translate them into design requirements for home-based IoT systems for habit formation support. 

Apply qualitative and quantitative methods to identify the effective components of home IoT systems and their impact on habit formation.

Build and test interactive IoT prototypes to identify key interaction methods (e.g. notifications, setup procedures) and wider system components (e.g. wearable devices, sensors). 

Propose a theoretical framework for (re-)designing home-based IoT systems that can effectively support long-term behaviour change. 


Every year, millions of people die because of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other preventable conditions caused by bad and unhealthy habits. This health crisis could be prevented and addressed by helping people develop good habits such as walking, exercising, meditation, etc. However, forming new habits is difficult and current technological solutions are ineffective as they rely on continuous tracking and reminders, and disregard people’s daily routines and the environment – factors that are key in supporting habit formation. While Internet of Things (IoT) technologies could help to address this limitation, as they can be embedded directly in home environments, they tend to focus on monitoring and have not been used to support habit formation. 


This PhD project will explore how IoT systems could be effectively used to support the formation of healthy habits at home, especially in multi-occupancy homes where people may be interested in different habits or some may not wish to change their behaviour.


The project will involve a mixed-methods approach, including controlled experiments and longitudinal studies to test different mechanisms supporting habit formation and to evaluate their effectiveness, and qualitative data collection to understand their effects on people’s everyday routines. 


This studentship will contribute to the fundamental understanding of how home-based IoT systems can facilitate engagement with healthy behaviours. It will also help to understand how different components of such systems relate to behaviour change techniques and influence habit formation, providing a theoretical basis for building smart home environments that can be applied to a wide range of health and wellbeing contexts. 

Additional information

The student will be able to define specific habitual behaviours to focus on. They will work alongside, and will be able to collaborate with, members of Human-Centred Computing (HCC) group and Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Human-Machine Systems (IROHMS) at Cardiff University.

Further information:

Keywords: Digital Health, IoT, Internet of Things, home-based IoT, habits, behaviour change 

This application is open to students worldwide.

Academic criteria: A 2:1 Honours undergraduate degree or a master's degree, in computing or a related subject.  Applicants with appropriate professional experience are also considered. Applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate proficiency by obtaining an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each skills component.

How to apply:

Please contact the supervisors of the project prior to submitting your application to discuss and develop an individual research proposal that builds on the information provided in this advert. Once you have developed the proposal with support from the supervisors, please submit your application following the instructions provided below

This project is accepting applications all year round, for self-funded candidates via 

In order to be considered candidates must submit the following information: 

  • Supporting statement 
  • CV 
  • In the ‘Research Proposal’ section of the application enter the name of the project you are applying to and upload your Individual research proposal, as mentioned above in BOLD
  • Qualification certificates and Transcripts
  • Proof of Funding. For example, a letter of intent from your sponsor or confirmation of self-funded status (In the funding field of your application, insert Self-Funded)
  • References x 2 
  • Proof of English language (if applicable)

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact 

Funding Notes

This project is offered for self-funded students only, or those with their own sponsorship or scholarship award.


Stawarz et al. (2020) What influences the selection of contextual cues when starting a new routine behaviour? BMC Psychology
Stawarz et al. (2016) Understanding the use of contextual cues: design implications for medication adherence technologies that support remembering. Digital Health
Lally et al (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur J Soc Psychol; 40(6):998–1009.

How good is research at Cardiff University in Computer Science and Informatics?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities
Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.

PhD saved successfully
View saved PhDs