Persuasive Technology 5th International Conference

PERSUASIVE 2010, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 7-10, 2010: Proceedings.
Editors: Thomas Ploug, Per Hasle, and Harri Oinas-Kukkonen, 2010.
Read September 2010

PERSUASIVE 2010 was the 5th annual international conference that showcased new knowledge in the field of persuasive technology, emphasizing social, psychological, rhetorical, and ethical issues. The conference proceedings contain a wide variety of papers presented and have been a great resource to me, not only to read about current research in the field, but also on a practical level to gain ideas for ways to structure research exercises. Some articles were extremely interesting but at this point do not directly relate to my thesis; for example, one researcher used participatory methods to engage participants in persuasive technology for environmental sustainability. The following 2 articles, however, were more relevant:

“Behavior Wizard: A Method for Matching Target Behaviors with Solutions.” B.J. Fogg and Jason Hreha, p. 117-131.

In this article, the authors explain their Behavior Wizard, a tool that is meant to help designers and other professionals think more clearly about behavior change. The article outlines 3 steps to using the Behavior Wizard: 1) Clarifying the target behavior (one way of doing this is to use the decision tree the authors created, available at www.behaviorwizard.org), 2) Identify what triggers the behavior, and 3) Highlight concepts and solutions related to the target behavior (which will eventually be available through a variety of resource guides). These 3 steps could potentially be a framework for behavior change, even if one is not specifically using the Behavior Wizard.

The Behavior Wizard is influenced by concepts from psychology. One influence is the idea of behavior change from the perspective of control; in particular, Bandura’s Efficacy Theory, which posits that control is inside the individual, Dweck’s theory of mindset as a continuum of control, and Ross & Nisbett’s Attribution Theory, which explains how context affects behavior. The second influence is Prochaka and DiClement’s Transtheoretical (or “Stages of Change”) Model. These models and theories are not yet known to me and could possibly be quite helpful for me in the context of my thesis project.

“Behavior Change Support Systems: A Research Model and Agenda.” Harri Oinas-Kukkonen, p. 4-14

According to the author,

“A behavior change support system (BCSS) is an information system designed to form, alter or reinforce attitudes, behaviors or an act of complying without using deception, coercion or inducements.” (6)

What is most relevant to me within this article is this author’s categories of behavior change. The types of behavior changes are (in ascending order of difficulty): C-change: change in act of complying, B-change: change in behavior, and A-change: change in attitude. The author writes that an attitude change is actually the most difficult change, but that “a sustainable B-change occurs only through an A-change” (7). He also examined the literature from all previous Persuasive conferences and noted that only 16% of the research addressed A-change.

This is interesting to me in part because my own thesis project is addressing people’s attitudes, and in part because I’m beginning to realize how different researchers’ views are on the links between attitude and behavior. Fogg, for example, strictly warns designers to begin addressing behavior change by focusing on the trigger or making the behavior easier, not by addressing the underlying attitude. And Maio and Haddock, in The Psychology of Atittudes and Attitude change, show that whether attitudes actually do predict behavior is a very complex topic and depends on many variables (57-66). This article was another step toward making the connections in my own mind between various ways of looking at attitudes and behavior change.

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