A Brief Look at Persuasive Technology

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  • 4 years ago
  • Posted: April 30, 2015 at 5:53 pm

I would say that technology today is the magic of the contemporary era; one cannot help it to think of the mystical engagement that goes on today when you consider our interactions with technology. It is a sublime relationship, one that is redefining the notion of man himself standing frontwards daring to probe the limits of the universe and existence. I believe that we are heading towards a sort of TECHNOTOPIA, perhaps the fabled point of technological singularity, and no more is this important than in persuasive technological. Well, as you might be thinking, persuasive technology refers to the design of technology that influences behavior, yours and mine. It is basically the blending of psychological principles and technological design architectures. As technology has developed and changed, growing faster and more reliable over time, it’s become sophisticated at persuading us, too. However, what’s less known is that there’s a term for the seemingly ubiquitous and invisible forces behind behavior change on our computers and phones. In persuasive technology, issues such as motivation, solo and social selling, time-based processes of change, feedback, goals, and progress. Such technologies as websites, mobile phones, virtual reality, software, video games, fitness tech, et cetera. And with these techs comes the ideal of persuasion in the shifting of beliefs, motivation, behavior change, attitude change, and compliance.

 

And I should note that this technological rush and embrace, especially with regard to persuasive technologies, is not an exclusivity of the developed world, but rather the developing world is leading the chase in this regard, especially when you think about Africa-for instance, the growing of mobile adoption and value-added services therewith like mobile money, which has definitely influenced how people behave financially and interact, especially here in Kenya where smart-phone device uptake has added up to sixty-seven percent. I cannot begin to extol how much smart devices here in Kenya manipulate the behavior with each other, particularly towards the creation of sub-culture among the youth. From the ancient forms of persuasive communication in the hallowed halls of Greek philosophers all the way to the revolutionary social media during the Arab spring; it is Jason Silva who writes of Twitter that if used intelligently cannot be a form of engineered serendipity.

 

An important aspect for industry in utilizing persuasive technologies is the prospect of making profitable conversion rates, especially by looking at things as email open and click rates by industry, not to mention commercial behavior with regard to these two variables- pre-purchase and conversion rates. Behavior-oriented design persuades us to buy more often (one-click checkout) or stay logged in (manipulating social media news feeds-Facebook is quite good at this). Many mobile apps that try to influence user behavior are either health-oriented—apps that incentivize weight loss, help to manage addictions and other mental health issues, or influence sleep practices—or promote environmental awareness. Although it’s been around for some time, persuasive technology is taking the form of being increasingly popular and profitable, prompting a deeper look into its ethics and efficacy.

 

Captology, the persuasive technologies field of study was pioneered in large part by BJ Fogg, who incepted studying the use of persuasion in technology in the 1990s whilst he was a doctoral student in psychology at Stanford University. In 1998 he founded the Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab, a hub for the study and promotion of persuasive technologies. Among the lab’s ongoing projects are examinations of the psychology of Facebook and the Peace Innovation Lab, a project launched in 2010 to shine “a spotlight on how technology and emerging social behaviors and insights are promoting new paths to global peace.”

 

If you look at Kenya now, persuasive technologies are taking over-especially the voracious way Kenya is innovating in Application development with the setting of many hub spaces for innovations in technology.

 

Intriguingly, in the real-world design, increasing ability is not about teaching people to do new things or training them for amelioration. People are in overall resistant to teaching and training because it necessitates effort. These clashes with the natural wiring of human adults: Simply put, we are fundamentally indolent. As a result, products that require people to learn new things routinely fail, observably. Instead, to increase a user’s ability, designers of persuasive experiences must make the behavior easier to perform. In other words, persuasive design relies heavily on the power of simplicity. A common example is the 1-click shopping at Amazon. Because it’s easy to buy things, people buy more. Simplicity changes behaviors. Besides, Leonardo da Vinci said that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, I agree with that.

 

 

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Stefan Wolf
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