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Schneider, Hanna; Wayrauther, Julia; Hassib, Mariam and Butz, Andreas (2019): Communicating Uncertainty in Fertility Prognosis. In: Chi 2019: Proceedings of the 2019 Chi Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

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Communicating uncertainty has been shown to provide positive effects on user understanding and decision-making. Surprisingly however, most personal health tracking applications fail to disclose the accuracy of their measurements and predictions. In the case of fertility tracking applications (FTAs), inaccurate predictions have already led to numerous unwanted pregnancies and law suits. However, integrating uncertainty into FTAs is challenging: Prediction accuracy is hard to understand and communicate, and its effect on users' trust and behavior is not well understood. We created a prototype for uncertainty visualizations for FTAs and evaluated it in a four-week field study with real users and their own data (N=9). Our results uncover far-reaching effects of communicating uncertainty: For example, users interpreted prediction accuracy as a proxy for their cycle health and as a security indicator for contraception. Displaying predicted and detected fertile phases next to each other helped users to understand uncertainty without negative emotional effects.

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