Choosing The Topic

South Africa with LiverpoolOnline

In my experience, to find a dissertation topic that was novel and original, of interest and relevant was not without challenges and frustrations. My first attempt was grandiose in design and limited by regulations. It was sheer good-luck that an opportunity crossed my path at the time I was scrambling to submit a research outline to the class on the discussion board, A new subject placed me back at the starting line, however with the prompts and guidance from the GDI (general dissertation instructor) and support from fellow classmates, I was able to formulate a research proposal. Furthermore, in the next stage with the mentorship and assistance of my DA (dissertation advisor) we were able to develop the research question appropriate for master’s level and progress to the approval. (Herein lies the benefit of the Research Methods Training Module and the systematic dissertation process).

The opportunity that presented, was initiated by an IT company in South Africa called money for jam (M4JAM). M4JAM is a micro jobbing platform with 130 000 registered members who do small jobs on a mobile application for profit. Microjobs range from market surveys, brand activation and point of interest validations. At the time M4JAM was interested in obtaining data on the viability of incentivized programmes to manage healthcare issues.

Considering that World Health Organziation had stated that income generation and education were strategic solutions to address global mental health burdens, specifically for developing countries, my study attempted to test if an incentivized psycho-educational initiatives on mobile device could make a difference in a South African context. Headspace take-10, (an introductory course for guided meditation), was used as it was evidence based and thus a valid instrument to introduce the construct of mindfulness.

With the generosity of a corporate sponsor my research attempted to replicate other large scale psycho-educational initiatives and extend existing smart phone based literature.

From an academic perspective the study examined the motivating influences of intrinsic and extrinsic factors on autonomous functioning and the effect of  financial reward and level of
self determination on mobile user app engagement.  Furthermore, the study was an opportunity to conduct a pilot study to explore the viability of incentivised mobile psychology on mental health issues in South Africa. The results suggested that in this case, financial incentives significantly increased user app engagement, however, the change in dispositional mindfulness was not significant.

In my opinion the topic “The Effect of Incentivised Mobile Psychology in South Africa as an Initiative to Drive Mental Health Improvements” was novel and ambitious, relevant in terms of the global smartphone revolution and it certainly kept me interested. I do envisage future studies perhaps with other databases and larger samples.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Rachel Dolan (GDI),Dr Alexander Forsythe (DA) and M4JAM (Corporate sponsor).


A contribution by Cathy Venter for Psychliverpool.

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