Faculty and students create phone application, campaign for COVID-19 behavioral accountability

Gianna Holiday, Reporter

Phone application Habitood allows students to hold one another accountable for their actions related to COVID-19 by tracking behaviors and using positive and negative reinforcement. 

The app, introduced by Timothy Ludwig in the psychology department, aims to study, observe and encourage peer reinforcement to shape healthy COVID-19 behaviors.

Habitood’s slogan and goal is, “No Name, No Blame, No Shame. Only Infection Reduction.”

Phone Application “Habitood,” created by professor Timothy Ludwig aims to shape healthy COVID-19 behaviors among students. App State’s Psychology Club and the psychology national honor society, Psi Chi, initiated the App State vs. COVID campaign to hold students accountable. (Emily Broyles)

App State’s Psychology Club and Psi Chi, the psychology national honor society, initiated the App State vs. COVID campaign, which allows App State students to become active participants in slowing the spread of the virus.

“Psi Chi decided on what behaviors we want to pay attention to, so, once we identified what those behaviors were, we were working with Habitood to get those into the system so that data could be collected for that,” said Connor Linden, a graduate student in the Industrial Organizational Psychology and Human Resources Management Program.

The Habitood app is interested in the collection of behavioral data only, such as how well students are abiding by COVID-19 regulations and restrictions. 

Infection control behaviors include wearing a mask, washing hands, social distancing or using hand sanitizer.

“This is an area of psychology that we call behavioral psychology. We are focusing on behavior change and, through the years, this process is built on reinforcement,” Ludwig said. “The idea of reinforcement is that if you do a behavior and come into contact with a consequence that is desirable, you are more likely to do it again.”

The slogan explains there are no identifying features about a student that can be put into this app. It allows students to remain anonymous.

The home page on the app asks students to share whether they live on or off-campus. After students click on this button, they can choose a “team” to designate where they are on or off-campus, including academic buildings, common areas and dorms, or off-campus. 

Data will be collected electronically and the trends will be publicly displayed.

Ludwig said, “If we all join in and show that students are making a difference then, maybe, we will be able to stay on campus while protecting our community at the same time.”

Already, data collected from the app over the first week has shown that the biggest risk is social distancing when unmasked in dorms and apartments around people who don’t live there. Another risk is outdoor  on campus, notably Sanford Mall. 

Ally Curry, president of Psi Chi,  said the club has continued to promote the app through virtual flyers, word of mouth, Zoom meetings and in the psychology department. 

“We’ll be doing this for as long as it will impact students on campus, which, right now is a really uncertain amount of time,” Curry said.

Students, regardless of their department, are encouraged to participate and encourage safe behaviors on and off-campus through the application.

“It does not take much effort to be active in our community and this is a good way to show love for those in it,” Psychology Club treasurer Madison Billowus said. “Plus, if we continue to try our best at staying safe and preventing further contagion, we are able to continue to have an open campus and lean toward a ‘normal’ spring semester.”

Students can download Habitood from the Play Store or App Store, and sign up using their App State email and a business code.