Implicit theory domains of technology ability and health related to people with Parkinson's engaging with a speech therapy smartphone application

  • Peter Nolan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Impaired speech has been reported in studies by between 70% (Hartelius & Svensson, 1994) and 80% (Schulz, 2002) of people with Parkinson’s. A speech therapy tool was developed, as part of a smartphone application (SAP) project supported by Parkinson’s UK, aiming to help encourage improved speech. A concern for the SAP project was potential barriers to usage within this cohort, including: negative stereotypes (Mitzner et al., 2010), anxiety (Hogan, 2006), and relatively poor uptake (Pew Research Center, 2014), regarding technology; and no interest, poor health, depression, and low outcomes expectation (Forkan, Pumper, Smyth, Wirkkala, Ciol, & Shumway-Cook, 2006). Anticipating these barriers, the Parkinson’s Implicit Theory (PIT) research reported here aimed to investigate the application of Dweck and Leggett’s (1988) Implicit Theory model to people with Parkinson’s. This model specifies that holding an entity or an incremental theory of abilities predisposes individuals to performance or learning goals which, depending on perceived skill level, can result in stronger (mastery-oriented) or weaker (helpless) behaviour patterns. The PIT research opportunistically used development and testing stages of the SAP project as occasions to investigate Implicit Theory in people with Parkinson’s. The main aims were to explore whether measured Implicit Theories of vocal and technical abilities would relate to behaviours using the SAP project’s application, and whether priming-like manipulations (e.g. Bargh, Chen and Burrows, 1996) of Implicit Theories could be used to improve people with Parkinson’s engagement with a technology-supported vocal therapy. Studies 1a (n = 16) and 1b (n = 22) developed initial Implicit Theory measures and manipulations, and investigated responses to these and subsequent technology-task behaviours using student participants. Studies 2a (conducted in a clinical setting, n = 12) and 2b (conducted in participants’ homes, n = 10) further developed the Implicit Theory manipulations of technology and vocal ability. In study 3 (n = 33, conducted in participants’ homes) the PIT research used the two week user-testing of the SAP project’s application to conduct a longitudinal investigation of behaviours related to Implicit Theories. A manipulation of Implicit Theory of technology ability was used, and Implicit Theories of technology ability and vocal issues were measured. Across all studies differences of measured Implicit Theories failed to reach significance between conditions, but in all five studies the measured Implicit Theories were in the direction expected based on the manipulations that had been presented. In a Thematic Analysis of participants’ user-testing dialogue (from Studies 2a and 2b), themes emerged which were consistent with the manipulations received. No significant differences in behaviour were found between Implicit Theory conditions in the longitudinal Study 3, but are explained by low statistical power. The value and trade-offs of conducting opportunistic research alongside existing projects are discussed. Results are considered in terms of the potential implications for people with Parkinson’s.
Date of AwardFeb 2016
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRoger Eglin (Supervisor), Brett Stevens (Supervisor) & Sherria Hoskins (Supervisor)

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