Soziale Rollen und UnterbrechbarkeitSocial roles and interruptibility

Social roles and interruptibility

Balance-Desktop for Windows

The aim of the study

The study will investigate a possible connection between social role theory and the perceived interruptibility of individuals. The social role theory originates from sociology and basically describes the exertion of certain roles in society. Examples of social roles are the role of the "father" or "mother" and the role of the employee. An important aspect of social roles is that the exercise of a role is linked to expectations, duties and behaviour. Therefore, the study aims to investigate whether these aspects, especially behaviour patterns, are also reflected in the use of information and communication technologies. In addition, the study will reveal whether such usage behaviour can be automatically recorded, processed and used to determine the respective social role.

The study will be partly accompanied by physiological measurements to capture emotions and emotional states during the use of information and communication technologies. The study is being conducted in collaboration with the School of Science RMIT University Melbourne Australia, the Faculty of Computer and Information Science at the University of Ljubljana (FRI) Slovenia, and the Department of Business Psychology at the University of Kassel, Germany.

The study starts on the 20th of January 2020 and will last three weeks in total. Participants will be asked to install two applications at the beginning of the study. One application will be provided for Android smartphones and will record usage and location data. Another complementary application will be provided for Windows and MacOS and will record comparable data for evaluation purposes.

Participants whose physiological signals are additionally recorded should pick up an E4 wristband from the appropriate contact person at the start of the study:

Prerequisite for participation

  • You are at least 18 years old
  • You use your Smartphone and/or PC for business and private purposes
  • You work at least 20 hours a week


For participation in the study, we are giving away 50x a compensation in the form of a 25€ Amazon voucher. You will take part in the raffle if you have answered at least 60% of the questionnaires by the end of the study. In order to hand over the voucher via mail, we need your valid mail address. If necessary, you can create a new mail address that does not contain your first or last name and provide it. Within approximately two weeks after the end of the study we inform you whether you have answered at least 60% of the questionnaires by sending you an email to your provided mail address. Your mail address will only be collected and stored in order to ensure that the compensation is processed without any problems. As soon as you have been informed, we will delete your mail address, and all associated correspondence with you. This will irretrievably delete any connection between your personalised code and your e-mail address.

Data acquisition

After agreeing to the consent form and granting the necessary permissions (Android), the applications collect usage data in the background. At regular time intervals, the participants are asked about their current social roles, their emotional states and their interruptibility. A short questionnaire at the end of the working day is supposed to ask for further impressions of the participants regarding their performance and interruptibility. The following data is collected by the system and the participant:

Windows / MacOS

  • Application usage - application name, process id, title bar information, time of usage
  • Keyboard events - Special keys only (no chars)
  • Mouse events - mouse clicks and wheel scrolls
  • WiFi - signal strength and network ID
  • Battery - state of charge and residual charge
  • Answers to the questionnaires


  • Physical activities - Google Recognition API
  • Application usage - application name, application package, time of usage
  • Received notifications - length of message, application, notification key, time received
  • Information about contacts - relationship, pseudonymised name of the contact (We wont transmit any names)
  • Screen time
  • Screen locks
  • Bluetooth - devices in the vicinity, BSSID, RSSI
  • Location information - GPS coordinates, 5-minute interval
  • WiFi - Network ID
  • Battery - state of charge and residual charge
  • Answers to the questionnaires and daily surveys


If you agreed to wear an Empatica wristband during the study, the following data will be collected additionally:

  • Skin conductivity - fluctuating changes in electrical properties of the skin
  • Skin temperature - infrared sensor
  • Blood volume pulse - Photoplethysmogram
  • Wrist movement - 3-axis accelerometer

Both applications send the collected data to a server hosted by the University of Kassel. The transmission is done via a secure SSL connection. All collected data is additionally stored for visualization on the respective device and can be deleted after the study by uninstalling the application. The data collected by Empatica is first transferred to Empatica and subsequently processed by us. Participants who agree to wear an Empatica during the study will be informed separately.

Data processing and anymonization

The study is planned to last three weeks. At the end of the study, the data will first be exported from the database. In the second step, checksums of the collected data will be calculated using a hash procedure (SHA-384 (SHA2)). The data is pseudonymised by computing these checksums. Any relations contained in the data set are retained. Conclusions about the original data in the data set are difficult. In order to fully prevent conclusions on the contained data, so-called Salts are added to the data when calculating the checksums. Salts are randomly generated character strings that are appended to the respective date (for example, application name). After this step, no conclusions about the data contained in the dataset can be drawn as long as the salt is unknown. When processing the data, we will not store salts and ensure that the salt is of sufficient length. The following data will be processed with this procedure:

  • Application name
  • Application path
  • Bluetooth BSSID
  • Checksums of the contacts
  • Code provided by the user
  • WiFi BSSID

Location information

The location information, which is explicitly represented via longitude and latitude information and implicitly via WiFi and Bluetooth BSSIDs, is processed as follows. First the location data is analyzed to extract significant locations of the participants. These include, for example, the workplace and home. After analyzing the significant locations, the longitude and latitude information are removed, leaving only relative location information in the data set. The BSSIDs in the data set are then replaced with checksums generated by the above procedure. 

  • Analysis and extraction of significant locations (home, work, entertainment, etc.)
  • Deletion of longitude and latitude
  • Replacement of Wifi and Bluetooth BSSIDs with checksums

After the data has been processed using the above procedure, relations between social roles and usage behaviour are investigated using machine learning methods. Details on the individual processing steps can be read in a previously published paper. The data will be anonymised by applying the procedure above. Sample data sets collected by the applications are attached to the website and can be downloaded.

Installation: Windows

Exceptions for SmartScreen

In Windows, the SmartScreen checks the installation of programs. For this purpose, signatures of developers and companies are verified and compared with databases online. The Balance-Desktop application for Windows has not been officially signed as this requires a developer account and annual or one-time license fees. We therefore ask you to allow the installation in this case. How you allow this is shown in the following pictures:

Installation: MacOS

Exceptions for Gatekeeper

Just like under Windows, applications in MacOS are checked by the GateKeeper. Since the MacOS application is not signed, you have to proceed as follows during installation:

  • Open the .dmg file with a right click
  • Click on "Open".
  • Click on "Open" again in the following window

The images below illustrate the installation process. Afterwards the program can be installed as usual on MacOS.

Starting the application:

The first start of the application is prevented by the gatekeeper, since it cannot verify the program due to the missing signature. Proceed as follows:

  • Right click on the icon
  • "Open" 
  • Click on "Open" again in the window that opens

Afterwards you can start the program normally.

Automatic restart:

If possible, the application should run continuously throughout the study. However, you can minimize the application at any time. To automatically start the application on login, please do the following:

  • The application appears in the taskbar when running
  • Do a right-click on the application icon 
  • Choose "Options"
  • Select "open on login"


The application generates a notification, acting as a reminder to fill out the questionnaires every 90 minutes. To enable notifications on the MacOS operation System, please follow the steps below.

  • Open the system preferences
  • Click on messages
  • Search for "Balance" and enable all Options
  • It is enough to enable "Banner" styled notifications

Keyboard events:

The application monitors keyboard events (only control keys, no characters or content). The application needs permission to capture these events. On the first start, you were already asked to grant this permission. In case you denied it, please consider to turn it on.

  • Open the system settings
  • Open the security settings and search for „input-monitoring“.
  • Enable it for the „Balance“ app


Google Play Store

Data samples

Data protection information