Technology, Autonomy, and Well-Being: A Conceptual Framework

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Thesis or dissertation

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The explosion of information and communication technology (tech) has raised concerns about potential erosions of autonomy. To analyze these concerns, this paper builds a new conceptual framework linking external forces, autonomy of choice, and well-being. While psychology has typically focused on the phenomenological experience of autonomy, this paper proceeds from the philosophical account of autonomy, and considers not only whether choices feel autonomous, but also whether the chooser is exercising the needed competencies to make autonomous choices. In the tech domain, the paper uses this framework to explore how both the overall environment and individual human-tech interactions can undermine autonomy of choice and thereby well-being. It identifies a set of detrimental effects and classifies these according to whether they are best seen as targets for education, targets for public policy, or areas subject to special risks of moral panic. Many of these effects would benefit from further research, including on the individual traits that may moderate them.


Autonomy, well-being, cyberpsychology, human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing


Media/Journalism, Well-being/Flourishing



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Date Posted: 22 September 2020