WP2: Set-up of mobile app and website platform with a centralised database and development of behavioural monitoring techniques

The clinical partners provided their wish-list for the app, and based on them a set of features were extracted. The features have been prioritized by the clinical and development sides. The app deveplment has been started and weekly meetings are organized to review the developed features. Moreover, two web-based audio recording have been develop to test the audEERING tools for the web-recording and test the quality of the recorded audio, as well as synchronisation of recording tools with other physiological devices. A solution description was created and refined throughout period. Development of app continued. At end of period the app development was approx. 60% completed. Production of animation videos commenced in November. A concept for framework has been developed that lets the users record voice samples related to the event reporting, gives an statistic estimate on emotional expression to the user directly in the app and at a personalized website for later inspection.

A table for gamification was produced that includes the events to be recognized and how many experience points and emotional fitness points are awarded for each activity.


WP3-5: Assessment and Intervention

The content of the app relies on the Emotional Competence Process model developed by Scherer et al. (2007) distinguishing three component processes: 1) the appropriate emotion production (accurate and realistic appraisal), 2) adequate coping and regulation abilities (reappraisal, downregulation, control of expressions and action impulses) and 3) adequate emotion knowledge (awareness, recognition and understanding). Deficits in each component are associated with maladaptive emotion regulation and increased psychopathology. The aim of the ECoWeB project is to identify and target those transdiagnostic mechanisms for increasing mental well-being and prevent psychological disorders in young people. Firstly, in a personalized medicine approach a systematic assessment of personal Emotional Competence (EC) profiles is administered. Secondly those profiles are used to select targeted interventions that are based on the three component processes (appraisal, regulation, and knowledge). We hypothesize that young people will benefit in their mental well-being and mental health by training relevant EC skills that were matched to their individual profiles. In four work packages (WP3b, WP3c, WP4 and WP5) four interventions covering the component process model are developed and described in more detail below.

  • WP3a: Several theoretical proposals in the literature suggest the existence of stable trait emotion or affect and the important role of attribution and appraisal biases may have in the etiology of such dispositions. In line with empirical results from earlier work (e.g., Scherer et. al., 2004), the WP leader has presented recent data justifying the claim that there are emotion dispositions in the sense that individuals may have the tendency to react with specific emotions to different events more frequently and with higher intensity. There is also evidence that these dispositions are related to different aspects of stable personality and emotional competence. WP3a pursues and extends these efforts to obtain further empirical evidence for this phenomenon. Such work is all the more important, as there are key implications for diagnostic applications in clinical settings, for example, the possibility of using the existence of appraisal bias as an indicator for risk factors for affective disturbances such as depression and anxiety disorders (Kaiser & Scherer, 1998; Mehu & Scherer, 2015; Scherer & Brosch, 2009). A central issue consists of establishing markers for appraisal biases that can be considered dysfunctional and potentially leading to increased risk for affective disorders. Therefore, research that combines the approach to measuring appraisal tendencies with the administration of instruments designed to detect risk for depression and anxiety disorders is urgently needed. In a preliminary study, using a precursor of the EMODIS instrument to be further developed in WP3a, significant relationships with the Depression/Anxiety/Stress scale (DASS) were found (Gentsch et al. ,2015).
  • WP3b: Throughout their educational careers, young people face various emotional and achievement-related challenges. As a consequence, students report to frequently experience negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, boredom and shame in achievement contexts (Pekrun, Goetz, Titz, & Perry, 2002). Emotions tied directly to achievement activities (e.g., studying) or achievement outcomes (success and failure) are defined as achievement emotions. The aim of WP3b is to create an intervention to promote positive and reduce negative achievement emotions. The intervention is theoretically based on the control-value theory of achievement emotions (CVT; Pekrun, 2006; Pekrun & Perry, 2014). According to the CVT, the arousal of achievement emotions is mainly due to two types of appraisals – perceived control and perceived value of achievement activities and their outcomes. In case of low perceived control, a lack of positive value or excessively high negative value we assume that more adaptive control and value will promote positive and reduce negative achievement emotions. For this purpose, we will combine principles from three established treatment approaches attributional retraining (e.g., Hall, Perry, Chipperfield, Clifton, & Haynes, 2006), growth mindset intervention (e.g., Dweck, 2006), and utility-value intervention (e.g., Hulleman & Harackiewicz, 2009). Attributional retraining and growth mindset intervention have an impact on perceived control and utility-value intervention affects perceived value. Besides affecting achievement emotions we expect that the intervention will reduce drop-out rates, increase performance in academic and occupational settings and improve mental well-being.
  • WP3c: Social situations and the way a person appraises these (especially ambiguous ones) can vary greatly. For many, meeting friends, being in school or at work is often rewarding and enjoyable. However, there are sometimes challenging social situations, in which a person can get uncertain and anxious about what others say, think and feel about him/her. WP3c focusses on detecting people that have a tendency to appraise social situations negatively and give them tools that can help to improve their appraisal style. To do so, we are developing an innovative, autonomous self-help appraisal-related mobile app. In it, state of the art scientific results will be translated into easily usable, short paced interventions that explicitly and implicitly help to improve how a person thinks in social situations. We have adapted existing versions of the proven effective CBM interventions and translate these to the smartphone-realm. Experimental pilot is currently under preparation and  will be conducted to suitably adapt the CBM interventions to the target age group (16-22 years), to test the feasibility of delivery via app, and to determine how best to (and whether to) associate the CBM-I with an ecologically-valid peer-related stressor. In addition, using the specific benefits of smartphones and their ubiquitous availability and variety of input and output channels, newly developed interventions focussing on social appraisal have been designed and will be introduced in the ECOWEB project.
  • WP4 – Emotion Regulation: The aim of WP4 is development of innovative assessment instruments and adaptation of an intervention related to the regulation component of the ECP for mobile application use. We plan to increase well-being and reduce risk for developing mental disorders in young people by identifying difficulties in emotion regulation and providing training to improve emotion regulation. Our work package will focus specifically on rumination, defined as the tendency to repeatedly dwell on problems and feelings (Ehring &Watkins, 2008; Watkins, 2008). Converging evidence shows that rumination is a particularly maladaptive form of emotion regulation and that it is a promising target for prevention (Topper et al., 2010; Wilkinson et al., 2013).
  • WP5 – Emotion Knowledge I: The more we understand the emotional process, the better equipped we are at managing our social and professional lives. The focus of WP5 is to create assessment instruments and interventions related to the ability to perceive, understand, predict, and manage emotion processes in the self and in other people. The Component Process Model (Scherer et al. 2007) proposes that the emotional process is made up of interactions between 5 components (appraisals, action tendencies, bodily reactions, motor expressions, subjective feelings). WP5 will develop a training to teach young people about these different facets of the emotional experience. WP5 advances the state-of-the-art by training emotion competence skills directly.


WP8: Implementation Science

Work package 8 will focus on how the App that is developed is actually used in the different countries and by the different users. It will do this by interviewing young people as well as different stakeholders – be they parents, teachers and health care professionals- about their experience of finding the app and their impressions of its use. The main focus of this work will be to try and identify barriers and facilitators for the App being used and therefore to find out how to improve the way it is accessed and used. We will have a special focus on populations who do not traditionally access mental health supports easily, such as migrant youth.


WP9: Communication and Dissemination

Work package 9 will focus on working with young people to develop clear guidelines and recommendations with respect to the implementation of the App intervention. A key overt aim of this project is to make the app of use and value to young people. For this reason, we will include youth in decision making, creating and coordinating Youth Advisory Boards in each of the countries where the trial is conducted. Also, WP9 will focus on dissemination of the project and project findings to relevant stakeholders through social media campaigns, scientific publication and conferences, and activities. WP9 will ensure that the knowledge and ECoWeB products created in the course of the project are made available in suitable ways to key actors/collaborators, stakeholders, end-user groups, policy makers and the scientific community.