Does Smartphone Use Drive our Emotions or vice versa? A Causal Analysis
In this paper, we demonstrate the existence of a bidirectional causal relationship between smartphone application use and user emotions. In a two-week long in-the-wild study with 30 participants we captured 502,851 instances of smartphone application use in tandem with corresponding emotional data from facial expressions. Our analysis shows that while in most cases application use drives user emotions, multiple application categories exist for which the causal effect is in the opposite direction. Our findings shed light on the relationship between smartphone use and emotional states. We furthermore discuss the opportunities for research and practice that arise from our findings and their potential to support emotional well-being.