Emotions are critical to human behaviour and healthy ageing. They are equally important to the design of ICTs that not only meet our needs but also enrich our lives. Yet, emotions are at best marginally addressed, and at worst, overlooked, by Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) studies that have been either carried out with, or concerned about, older people. Within HCI, older adults are mostly conceived of as individuals with (i) a set of age-related declines to be compensated for and (ii) negative emotions towards – or brought about by using – ICTs, e.g. ‘I am afraid of using computers’. While coping with negative emotions is to be commended, the current paradigm overlooks positive emotional experiences, or renders them invisible. In this project, we aim to take HCI research with older people forward by:

(i) examining cross-cultural, everyday emotional experiences of ICTs use by older people with mild-to-moderate age-related changes in functional abilities,

(ii) exploring the participatory design of new types of online user interfaces (e.g. Embodied Conversational Agents – ECA) that make emotional experiences available for interaction and reflection.

The aim of this project is to deepen the current understanding of older people’s emotional experiences when interacting with ICTs. The variety of technologies and use situations that could be explored for this scope is almost infinite. In the last 10 years, we have conducted a number of ethnographical studies, in which we have examined older people’s ICT use, ranging from mainstream technologies (e.g. e-mail systems, social network sites, mobile Apps) to (relatively) new ones (e.g. gaming platform). We aim to re-analyse our fieldnotes and previous works by taking emotions into account and to widen our current pool of explored technologies by including Embodied Conversational Agents (ECA). We aim to explore older people’s emotions when interacting with ECA and how the latter can be designed to enable older people to reflect on their emotions and whereby we can enrich their interactive experiences.

With respect to the citizen science lens, this project aims to contribute with knowledge about new approaches for conducting CS projects with older people.


Josep Blat, Univesitat Pompeu Fabra

Sergio Sayago, Universitat de Lleida

Valeria Righi, Univesitat Pompeu Fabra


Research Areas:

Agency in Ageing

Critical Mediations: Everyday Life and Cultures of Ageing

Telecommunication Technologies

ACT Partners
Concordia University

Project updates

  • On March 15th  2016, we held an informal focus group in an adult educational centre in Barcelona. The activity was aimed to explore participants’ attitudes towards, and acceptance, of Embodied Conversational Agents (ECA) for healthcare contexts, and their emotional experiences. Examples of different ECAs were presented. About 15 older people and adults from different nationalities took part in the event. We are currently analysing the data gathered.

Related projects