Research Question

How can a first-person perspective approach using a wearable evoke empathy and prosocial behavior for people experiencing the symptom of fatigue?


The present study consisted of three sequential phases. During our first phase, we conducted interviews with people affected by the symptom of fatigue (n=5). Building on these insights, we, in consultation with affected people, developed a wearable which aims to simulate fatigue. The designed wearable was then used during our main study, where our participants (n=6) put the wearable on and were guided through a set of tasks. The experiences of our participants were then analyzed and compared to the insights gathered from the interviews in order to answer our research question, how empathy and prosocial behavior towards people affected by fatigue can be enhanced through a first-person approach.

Our wearable

The wearable consisted of weights attached to the torso, ankle and wrists as well as a battery display attached to the arm


Comparison of proportion of study participants versus interviewees with respective code segments

Central Contribution

Our research contributes to more empathy towards those affected by fatigue and to a change in passive and active prosocial behavior. Our main study provided a first-person experience of the invisible symptom fatigue using a wearable. The participants were able to put themselves in the physical position of those affected, as well as in the resulting emotional situation. We therefore conclude that affective as well as cognitive empathy for people with fatigue was enhanced for all participants. We also conclude that while prosocial behavior is not necessarily enhanced, awareness for different ways to behave prosocially towards people affected by fatigue might be strengthened. Conducting interviews with affected individuals has proven to be insightful, as it made the physical sensation of fatigue understandable in all its facets. The homogeneous sample of interviewees was appropriate due to the occurrence of the symptom. Consulting with affected persons also enabled the researchers to simulate fatigue through a wearable as accurately as possible. Finally, the set-up of the study has proven to be very suitable to convey the daily life of a person with fatigue.