Episodic Future Thinking Study

Do you want to help us understand how people are motivated to make lifestyle behaviour change? Are you curious about what "Episodic Future Thinking" is? Would you like to try to change small life style habits over a 3-week period using your phone? Then join this study....

When making choices we often favor rewards in the near future, and we usually prefer more rewards rather than less. This behavior can have negative repercussions for our long term health when we choose immediately gratifying “rewards” such as inactive behavior or are making unhealthy choices: Should we take a walk now despite the weather, or should we just relax watching a movie? Relaxing may have a clear perceived benefit here and now, whereas the future benefits of walking are somewhat unclear in-moment, but the choices we make repeatedly over time have a very real effect on our health. 

In this study we look at motivation to engage in healthy behaviors, and the tendency to prefer immediate gratification over long term health. This concept, called “Delay Discounting”, is also a measure of how future rewards are perceived to drop in value over time. 

As a participant in this study you will be asked to choose one health or wellness goal to work with throughout the 3-week study period. This could, for example, be a desire to increase physical activity, eat healthier, reduce alcohol consumption, reduce smoking, or establish better sleeping habits. As part of the study you will be working with materials and exercises aiming to help you achieve your goal. One such approach is called “Episodic Future Thinking” (EFT) which aims to promote long-term decision making by bringing the future closer to the present. In EFT you will actively reflect on the future through a number of regular sessions prompting you to create “cues” representing a concrete event in the future or reflect on the created cues. This in turn aims to reduce delay discounting, help you make decisions with a positive impact on your health and keep you motivated to achieve your health goal.

What do I need to do?

In order to participate you must register your email here:


Once signed up you will receive an email invitation to the study with instructions on how you participate including information about providing written consent for participation, instructions on downloading the app and how you access the questionnaires that are part of the study. 

As part of the study you will be asked to choose a health goal to work with throughout the 3-week study period. You will be randomized to one of different groups working with your goal in different ways. One group is asked to engage with various exercises presented by the app. Expected engagement with these exercises are roughly 5-10 minutes per day with slightly higher load for the first week. Another group will be provided links to educational material in the app and is encouraged to use these as a starting point and inspiration to find other materials online. Engagement with this material is expected to take 60 minutes in the first week.

All participants will be asked to download the DTU-EFT study app as part of the study. As part of the app setup process you will be asked to provide signed consent to participate. The app also contains all study surveys and exercises.

What data is collected?

The DTU-EFT study/app collects and stores the following types of data:

  • Personal information:

    • Your full name and email address (only for the duration of the study, afterwards data will be anonymized).

  • Demographic information:

    • This includes your, age, sex, height, weight, race/ethnicity, household income. Household income and race/ethnicity may be omitted if you don't want to state this.

  • Questionnaires:

    • Weekly measures of delay discounting.

    • Weekly measures of motivation to engage in chosen health behavior.

    • Weekly questions about the experiences and perceptions of engaging in the chosen health behavior.

    • In addition, we will also ask questions related to motivation to engage in healthy activities. 

    • Questionnaire on app usability (e.g. ease of use, complexity and potential frustrations).

  • Automatically collected behavioral information and app usage:

    • This includes activity (step counts/mode of transport) and location data from GPS.

    • Device information like device name, model, manufacturer, operating system, and hardware profile.

    • App usage statistics. 

This study uses the Copenhagen Research Platform (CARP). CARP is used by researchers in CACHET to collect, store, manage, and analyze data for research purposes. CARP is operated by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) at the Department of Health Technology, who is the data controller for CARP. CARP complies with the privacy policy of DTU. Please check the full CARP privacy policy.

Interruption of participation

Participation is voluntary and can be stopped at any point without the need of providing reasoning. 

Investigators & contact

For practical or technical questions contact: Dan Roland Persson,,  (+45) 93 51 14 23.


Principal investigator: Per Bækgaard,,  (+45) 93 51 05 43.


To report bugs, issues or make suggestions for improvements:


Dan Roland Persson
PhD student
DTU Compute
+45 93 51 14 23


Per Bækgaard
Associate Professor
DTU Compute
+45 45 25 39 08
21 JUNE 2024