Research proposal: Behavior-change-via-technology is a fast-growing field, but it is lacking a theoretical framework and a practical

A small number of designers are pioneering an emerging field of interaction design: their systems aren t just user-friendly they change the users behavior. While practical examples abound, this new field lacks a theoretical framework and a practical methodology, making it inaccessible to most designers. The purpose of this research would be to assess the utility and shortcomings of existing models, then to develop a new framework and methodology for enabling interaction designers to make their designs change users behavior. Work will also be carried out to develop a framework for measuring the behavioral change that these systems create.

About the author
Arjan Haring is the organizer of a leading community of interaction designers (Design for Conversion), whose alumni include BJ Fogg (Stanford University), Dan Goldstein (London Business School), Rory Sutherland (Ogilvy), Kath Straub (Johns Hopkins University ), Karl Blanks (Conversion Rate Experts) Dan Lockton (Brunel University ) and Andrew Chak (author of Submit Now).

Creating a practical framework to help designers to incorporate established psychology literature on behavior change techniques
In February 2009 Robert Fabricant, Executive Creative Director at Frog Design, declared that as interaction designers, our medium is not technology it's behavior. He is just one of the many interaction designers who stress how interaction design can shape behavior.

Examples of interaction design that sculpts the users behavior
Example 1: Eco-feedback indicators One domain in which interaction designers are aiming to shape behaviour is the promotion of environmentally friendly behavior: When designing the speedometer of the 2009 Ford Fusion, designers came up with an eco-feedback indicator that uses efficiency leaves (see the diagram below) to motivate drivers to drive in a more pro-environmental way. Another initiatives is the Infotropism interactive display developed by designers at Carnegie Mellon, which uses sensors and living plants to provide feedback about recycling behavior and waste disposal.

Detail: speedometer 2009 Ford Fusion

Infotropism display

Example 2: Health promotion Another field in which interaction designers are primarily focused on changing behavior is the domain of mobile health devices. Philips developed DirectLife which is a combination of an activity monitor and a web-based service. DirectLife users can see statistics and results of their physical activities. The system aims to stimulate people to become and stay physically active. Another initiative that focuses on stimulating physical activity is the exercise-challenge service which enables users to publicly challenge friends to reach specific health-related goals. IMoveYou founder and designer Jen McCabe declares that its design is based on principles that come from the field of behavioral economics.

Philips DirectLife Example 3: Commerce

Social media initiative I Move You

On a simple level, interaction designers are influencing behavior change in commercial settings too. At Dutch bank ABN AMRO, interaction designers use social pressure to stimulate clients to make an appointment with mortgage advisors. And the discount airline Ryanair uses the psychological principle of scarcity as a way of influencing consumers to act. These last two examples are inspired by the work of professor Robert Cialdini. In the 1970s, Cialdini researched different compliance practitioners (e.g. Hare Krishna fundraisers and car salesmen), and identified widely applicable psychological principles for changing behavior .

Existing theoretical models and their shortcomings Though interaction design is influenced by behavioral sciences, the use of well-founded theories and frameworks that focus on behavior change is fragmented. The available frameworks, BJ Fogg s 8-Step Design Process for Behavior Change, and the Persuasive Systems Design (PSD) framework by Hari OinasKukkonen, aim to give designers a framework to develop and evaluate their products by. Though Fogg s design process is highly accessible, it is too brief and generic to inform interaction designers properly. The PSD model is a more extensive framework but is rooted in software engineering, which is why its applicability to common interaction design practices is limited. The field is also hampered by a lack of methodologies for measuring behavioral change In line with the fragmented use of well-founded theories and frameworks, there are only few studies available that report about measuring behavioral change induced by interaction design. There a few studies that evaluate the effect of the designs, especially in a real world setting, more studies would benefit practitioners that want to demonstrate their added value. Need for research Here are the two main research problems that emerge from the field of designing for behavior change: 1. Create an overview of current approaches, methods and techniques of persuasive product- and service development, and their applicability in the interaction design practice. 2. Develop metrics that can demonstrate the effect of behavior change efforts and conduct studies to validate these metrics .

Research objective The objective of this research project is to investigate the effectiveness of different design frameworks that focus on behavior change in the domain of sustainability, health or commerce. The results of this research will inform interaction designers in such a way that they can make better-founded decisions for an approach, method or technique within persuasive product- and service development.

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