It’s easy to come up with examples of digital badges that don’t work, or are simply too silly to be serious tools for engagement. It’s far more difficult to take the positive perspective and determine the features that can make a digital badge an effective tool for behavior change. My interest in badges originally stemmed from a critical place, both from seeing badly done versions as a user, and having clients ask for badges without a thoughtful supporting strategy. But working through that critique has brought me to the following set of recommendations for doing digital badges well. Continue reading Five Best Practices for Digital Badges for Behavior Change
A question I’ve been thinking about more recently is, what makes health behavior change so special? And surprisingly enough for someone who’s spent over a decade focusing on health behavior change, I think the answer is: It’s not. The more I explore other behavior change challenges, the more I see that designing for health isn’t really different from other types of behavior change interventions. Continue reading What’s Different About Designing For Health?
Last year I finished 180 books, according to my records on Goodreads. My reading tastes generally lean toward fiction, but include a healthy dollop of non-fiction, especially books related to behavior change, education, and design. In recent years I’ve gotten stingier with my highest ratings, reserving five stars for only the books that really leave an impression on me. In 2016, there were seven books that I gave five stars (a little fewer than 4% of my total reading). Here they are.
Two days after the election, Mark Zuckerberg said the following at a meeting in California:
“Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea.”
For those of us who’ve spent any time on Facebook in the last 18 months and who’ve tried to engage in conversations with people whose political arguments include conspiracy theories, Zuckerberg’s comment was a record-scratch moment. Continue reading So, Does Facebook Influence Users or Not? (Yes, It Does)
Sometimes I think the formal study of behavior science is really about putting names and a framework around concepts we already intuitively understand. After all, we are all human beings experiencing attitudes, behaviors, and cognitions every single day. That doesn’t mean we know how to talk about it or fully understand the nuances that determine when something is more or less likely to happen, but your average person does have more of a sense for psychology than for, say, nuclear physics. Continue reading How A Revolutionary War Hero Used Modern Psychology
The subject of “bad” grades has been on my mind lately. With many university semesters drawing to a close, I’m watching my friends who teach at the college level cope with the by now routine requests from students to elevate their grades, whether through extra credit, re-grading an assignment, or just because. Based on stories from my friends, students can be quite aggressive in their pursuit to enhance a grade. Continue reading The Good Thing About a Bad Grade
Last week, San Francisco’s public transit system, the BART, experienced electrical problems that negatively impacted service. As people are wont to do, riders flocked to Twitter to complain to the agency about their poor service. What was unusual is that on the evening in question, instead of offering a bland apology or canned corporate statement, the people behind the BART Twitter account replied candidly and openly. In getting real, BART demonstrated how a faceless civic entity can leverage psychology to form relationships. Three things BART did right are: Continue reading BART Tells It Like It Is: When Corporate Social Media Gets Real
This week, the resignation letter of a special education teacher in Florida has gone viral online. Through my friends and relatives who are teachers, and eventually others who read the letter and were moved to share it, I’ve seen it many times in my social network feeds in the last few days. Wendy Bradshaw, Ph.D., decided to resign her teaching post after giving birth and realizing that she felt a sense of dread thinking about her new daughter attending the schools in which she teachers. In her letter, she writes: Continue reading Wendy Bradshaw’s Resignation: In the Absence of Competence Support
I took my first psychology class in college without really knowing what psychology was or what psychologists did. When I was a first-year student at Harvard, the policy was that you declared a major by your second semester. My foray into English studies was a flop, so I declared psychology and hoped for the best. Fortunately, what I found in those early psychology classes was a revelation: A language to explain the behavioral and emotional phenomena I’d experienced and witnessed my entire life. Continue reading How to Describe What I Know: The Appeal (and Frustration) of Psychology
When do you know you’ve crossed the line from not knowing to knowing? How do you know when you can do something? I’m not talking about being an expert necessarily, but being competent and capable. These sorts of ideas have been on my mind in my new job as I find myself grasping for reassurance that I know what I’m doing. I’ve found that the more I try things, even when I’m not quite sure how to do them, the faster I learn them. This is scary, because trying things when you’re not confident about how to do them means you might fail. Continue reading Learning by Experience