Qualitative study of affective identities in dementia patients for the design of cognitive assistive technologies

Alexandra Konig, Linda E Francis, Jyoti Joshi, Julie M Robillard, Jesse Hoey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Our overall aim is to develop an emotionally intelligent cognitive assistant (ICA) to help older adults with Alzheimer's disease (AD) to complete activities of daily living more independently. For improved adoption, such a system should take into account how individuals feel about who they are. This paper investigates different affective identities found in older care home residents with AD, leading to a computational characterization of these aspects and, thus, tailored prompts to each specific individual's identity in a way that potentially ensures smoother and more effective uptake and response. We report on a set of qualitative interviews with 12 older adult care home residents and caregivers. The interview covered life domains (family, origin, occupation, etc.), and feelings related to the ICA. All interviews were transcribed and analyzed to extract a set of affective identities, coded according to the social–psychological principles of affect control theory (ACT). Preliminary results show that a set of identities can be extracted for each participant (e.g. father, husband). Furthermore, our results provide support for the proposition that, while identities grounded in memories fade as a person loses their memory, habitual aspects of identity that reflect the overall “persona” may persist longer, even without situational context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Identity
  • dementia
  • Alzheimer
  • technology
  • assistive technology
  • prompting
  • virtual assistant
  • avatar
  • activities of daily living (ADL)
  • affect control theory

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