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PEACH, a smartphone- and conversational agent-based coaching intervention for intentional personality change: study protocol of a randomized, wait-list controlled trial

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Stieger Mirjam, Nißen Marcia, Rüegger Dominik, Kowatsch Tobias, Flückiger Christoph, Allemand Mathias,
Project Changing Personality Traits: Testing the Efficacy of a Mobile Technology-Based Intervention
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal BMC Psychology
Volume (Issue) 6(1)
Page(s) 1 - 15
Title of proceedings BMC Psychology
DOI 10.1186/s40359-018-0257-9


Background: This protocol describes a study that will test the effectiveness of a 10-week non-clinical psychological coaching intervention for intentional personality change using a smartphone application. The goal of the intervention is to coach individuals who are willing and motivated to change some aspects of their personality, i.e., the Big Five personality traits. The intervention is based on empirically derived general change mechanisms from psychotherapy process-outcome research. It uses the smartphone application PEACH (PErsonality coACH) to allow for a scalable assessment and tailored interventions in the everyday life of participants. A conversational agent will be used as a digital coach to support participants to achieve their personality change goals. The goal of the study is to examine the effectiveness of the intervention at post-test assessment and three-month follow-up. Methods/Design: A 2x2 factorial between-subject randomized, wait-list controlled trial with intensive longitudinal methods will be conducted to examine the effectiveness of the intervention. Participants will be randomized to one of four conditions. One experimental condition includes a conversational agent with high self-awareness to deliver the coaching program. The other experimental condition includes a conversational agent with low self awareness. Two wait-list conditions refer to the same two experimental conditions, albeit with four weeks without intervention at the beginning of the study. The 10-week intervention includes different types of micro-interventions: (a) individualized implementation intentions, (b) psychoeducation, (c) behavioral activation tasks, (d) self-reflection, (e) resource activation, and (f) individualized progress feedback. Study participants will be at least 900 German-speaking adults (18 years and older) who install the PEACH application on their smartphones, give their informed consent, pass the screening assessment, take part in the pre-test assessment and are motivated to change or modify some aspects of their personality. Discussion: This is the first study testing the effectiveness of a smartphone- and conversational agent-based coaching intervention for intended personality change. Given that this novel intervention approach proves effective, it could be implemented in various non-clinical settings and could reach large numbers of people due to its low threshold character and technical scalability.