The big thing on my mind right now is preparing for my presentation at SXSW next Saturday. My J&J colleague and pal Raphaela O’Day and I are going to be discussing “Moral Issues in Designing for Behavior Change,” and how we grapple with them as psychologists who design and create interventions to improve health and healthcare.
Continue reading Moral Issues in Designing for Behavior Change
As a frequent flyer, I know how easy it can be to get caught up in a loyalty program. You could blame it on the occasional first class upgrades, the free checked baggage, or the special elite hotline many airlines offer their most valued members . . . or you could chalk it up to a brilliant application of behavioral economics and psychology.
Continue reading The Behavioral Economics of Airline Loyalty Programs
Companies that do “year in review” features for their customers can often spark continued engagement by supporting the key psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. By reviewing all of the customer’s activity, showing how it adds up to bigger outcomes, and how the customer is part of a larger community, the reviews can make people feel like their consumer habits were meaningful. I’ve received these sorts of round-ups in past years from Map My Run and Blue Apron and found them engaging. Continue reading A Slightly Less Than Motivating Year In Review: Delta Airlines
If you’ve ever seen me do any version of a talk on motivational design, you know I’m skeptical about the utility of badges for engagement. It’s not that badges are a bad tool. It’s that they get misused. Programs may award a badge for the wrong behavior. Or the badge may encourage cheating and shortcuts to get the reward. Or, while a virtual badge rarely carries any real value, it might be too much reward for the behavior, eventually leading to lower engagement levels. So, I was surprised to see that an effort to award scientists digital badges displayed alongside their publications in search results was gathering momentum. Continue reading Why Do Scientist Badges Work?
For those of us working in digital, testing our work during the development cycle and measuring its impact once launched can be complicated. We know we should, but it takes so much time, and besides, what are we going to do if we uncover problems through testing? Do we have budget and time to even fix anything? Plus there’s the pain of learning your work didn’t meet the mark, and the dilemma of admitting by doing testing that you weren’t totally sure about what you built anyway. Continue reading Making User Testing Comfortable: Changing Cultural and Personal Attitudes
Opower started the trend: Tell people how their energy consumption compares to their neighbors’, and watch them start to conserve electricity in order to move closer to the norm. After Opower showed initial results suggesting that social data can influence utility usage, other approaches to the issue gained momentum. In addition to direct competitors in the energy management space, devices like the Nest thermostat leverage technology to help people save money and power. While I’ve read a lot about these sorts of solutions (and lusted after a smart thermostat of my own), only recently have I been able to experience one firsthand. Continue reading Eversource’s Energy Management Program: Strengths and Opportunities
My sister works as a recruiter and HR manager for technology startups in Europe. She has a strong background working with some very successful American companies, so her advice is sought after in her new community. Recently she told me a story about an attempt to get her advice that backfired, and it made me think about the importance of framing a request for a favor in a way that supports autonomy. Continue reading How to Ask for Favors the Autonomy-Supporting Way
Social media is increasingly becoming an expected channel for companies to communicate with customers, users, and other stakeholders. I’d venture to say that it’s now more common for companies to be on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook than off. The goal, logically, is to engage with consumers, whether it’s by providing customer service, creating a brand image, or responding real-time to relevant events. Of course, a lot of companies do it badly, with far fewer doing it well. Continue reading A Brand I Can Relate To: Companies Creating Relationships on Social Media
I was never a big gamer, but I did become obsessed with the original NES The Legend of Zelda as a kid. On top of the hours I spent playing, I also avidly consumed any article in my brother’s Nintendo Power magazine related to the game. I remember talking with people about rumors about hidden levels in the game (true), and how to find the Blue Ring. The Internet wasn’t a thing yet or I’m sure I would have been on Zelda message boards. Zelda was the first game I remember that really created an imaginary universe with engrossing challenges and a sense of infinite possibility. As an adult, I look back on the game as an artistic masterpiece (albeit in 8 bits) and an accomplishment in design psychology. Continue reading It’s Dangerous To Go Alone! The Legend of Zelda and Fundamental Needs
Many apps that reward users by badging or leveling up miss the mark. Maybe they reward the wrong behavior (like assigning badges for check-ins when the goal is really to get someone to work out). Or maybe they assign rewards for behaviors that a person would do anyway (and thereby run the risk of the undermining effect). And this isn’t even taking into account whether rewards even work in the first place. Starbucks, however, seems to have developed a mobile app that effectively rewards the right behavior (that’s buying coffee) in a way that generates revenue. Continue reading Case Study: Coffee & Competence