Using smartphone app use and lagged-ensemble machine learning for the prediction of work fatigue and boredom


Intro: As smartphone usage becomes increasingly prevalent in the workplace, the physical and psychological implications of this behavior warrant consideration. Recent research has investigated associations between workplace smartphone use and fatigue and boredom, yet findings are not conclusive. Methods: To build off recent efforts, we applied an ensemble machine learning model on a previously published dataset of N = 83 graduate students in the Netherlands to predict work boredom and fatigue from passively collected smartphone app use information. Using time-based feature engineering and lagged variations of the data to train, validate, and test idiographic models, we evaluated the efficacy of a lagged-ensemble predictive paradigm on sparse temporal data. Moreover, we probed the relative importance of both derived app use variables and lags within this predictive framework. Results: The ability to predict fatigue and boredom trajectories from app use information was heterogeneous and highly person-specific. Idiographic modeling reflected moderate to high correlative capacity (r > 0.4) in 47% of participants for fatigue and 24% for boredom, with better overall performance in the fatigue prediction task. App use relating to duration, communication, and patterns of use frequency were among the most important features driving predictions across lags, with longer lags contributing more heavily to final ensemble predictions compared with shorter ones. Conclusion: A lag-specific ensemble predictive paradigm is a promising approach to leveraging high-dimensional app use behavioral data for the prediction of work fatigue and boredom. Future research will benefit from evaluating associations on densely collected data across longer time scales.

Computers in Human Behavior