Business challenge

The Institute of Applied Psychology, Jagiellonian University aims to gain richer behavioral insights to influence population behavior with cognitive, mobile and health-tracking technology.


Trained by psychologists to use empathy, the cognitive health app probes into reasons for avoiding exercise and tests different persuasion tactics.


Broadens the scope

of longitudinal studies, including larger populations over a longer period of time

Enhances insights

into human behavior with a stream of data describing physical activity, mood and motivation

Strengthens credibility

of the institute, helping attract top students, faculty and funding

Business challenge story

Business challenge

Studies show that sedentary lifestyles are linked to chronic conditions and shorter life spans, but it’s difficult to convince people to change their habits. As a public health issue with far-reaching societal implications, the challenge has captured the attention of many researchers, psychologists and health specialists around the world. But there is still a limited understanding of how personal and environmental factors play into individual choices. The Institute of Applied Psychology, Jagiellonian University saw an untapped opportunity in the recent proliferation of fitness trackers. Tens of millions of fitness-tracking devices and apps are sold every year around the world, generating immense volumes of data that could be tapped and refined for deeper behavioral insights. The research team set out to harness these insights by launching a longitudinal study that takes advantage of the fitness-tracking trend and explores the effectiveness of cognitive computing and mobile and social technologies in research methods.

“Cognitive computing is opening up new possibilities for psychological research and human health behaviors.”

—Piotr Jedynak, Dean of Faculty of Management and Social Communication, Jagiellonian University

Transformation story

Cognitive transformation

The Institute of Applied Psychology, Jagiellonian University built a cognitive health coach app to expand the scope of its research, understand why people behave the way they do and find new ways of motivating them to build healthy habits. Named, the cognitive app is designed to help users commit to small, achievable goals and tries to identify any obstacles that stand in their way. Using natural language processing (NLP) in Polish and English, the app converses with users twice a day. It sends personalized reminders and suggestions for staying active that take into account the local weather and the user’s emotional state. The solution is integrated with Twitter for messaging and pulls fitness-tracking data from the Google Fit app to monitor the number of steps a user takes. Trained by psychologists to interact in empathetic ways, looks for key variables such as weather, mood, motivation and illness to help researchers interpret and segment human behavior.

Results story

Quantifiable benefits

By collaborating with the IBM Laboratory in Krakow, the Institute of Applied Psychology, Jagiellonian University is changing the way longitudinal research studies are conducted and generating new kinds of observations about human behavior. Tapping into mobile, social and cognitive computing technology, researchers can broaden the scope of their projects by incorporating more participants over longer periods of time. They are also gaining richer insights into human behavior with a continuous stream of user data related to physical activity, mood and motivation. As one of the first academic institutions to explore these new research possibilities, the Institute of Applied Psychology is strengthening its reputation and credibility in the field, which helps attract top students, faculty and funding.

The institute developed a cognitive health coach app to break new ground in academic research, experimenting with new ways to conduct longitudinal studies and hoping to uncover fresh insights about human behavior. Using NLP, the app can converse with users in an intelligent and personalized way, learning what motivates them to engage in physical activity and helping them build healthy habits.

When it comes to health behavior modification, traditional studies and programs are limited in size and scope. Psychologists typically meet with subjects periodically in face-to-face meetings but lack influence in their day-to-day lives. Now, by training a cognitive app to act as a psychologist and coach, the academic institute captures a constant stream of participant data and can experiment with different ways of persuading subjects to make healthy choices as part of their daily routines.

The cognitive solution collects structured data from Google Fit sensors three times daily, structured location-based GPS data from the user’s mobile phone, unstructured user input from conversations with, and local weather data.

About Institute of Applied Psychology, Jagiellonian University

Founded in 1364, the Jagiellonian University in Krakow is the oldest university in Poland and one of the oldest universities in the world. In 1996, the organization created the Faculty of Management and Social Communication, with the Institute of Applied Psychology as part of it, in response to the pervasive political, social, economic and technological changes unfolding across the country. In 2012, the institute established a collaborative relationship with the IBM Laboratory in Krakow, Poland.