Persuasive Technology

Its always so easy to spend alot of money and time on sites like Amazon, Facebook and many other mobile apps. This is because the design and deployment of these sites and apps have been carefully and intentionally thought out to achieve this. It is a branch of technology which has alot to do with a person’s psychology and it’s called Persuasasive technology.
Persuasive technology is being used to influence behavior all day long often without you even knowing. It merges traditional modes of persuasion, using information, incentives, and even coercion, with the new capabilities of devices to change user behavior on these devices and sites. Persuasive technology can be found in mobile downloads, or on the digital homes of tech giants like Amazon and Facebook, where behavior-oriented design persuades us to buy more often or to stay logged in. These behaviour oriented designs could be anywhere from one-click checkout, countdown timers on sales pages, displaying well known security logos on pages for financial transactions, manipulating social media news feeds etc. An example of a mobile app that try to influence user behavior could be health oriented apps that incentivize weight loss, help to manage addictions and other mental health issues, or influence sleep practices, promote environmental awareness. One of such apps is called Opower, which encourages energy conservation.

Though it’s been around for a while, persuasive technology is becoming increasingly popular and profitable, inviting a deeper look into its ethics and efficacy. This is a sensitive topic and there are still many ethical questions, especially regarding the line between persuasion and manipulation, and how to determine persuasive technology’s efficacy over the long-term.
Another good example of an app that uses persuasive technology is called Pact. Pact uses financial incentives to help its users meet three kinds of goals, from exercising more often to eating more fruits and vegetables or consuming fewer calories. Each week, the user decides how many goals the user wants to make, workouts completed or veggies eaten, and the user determines how much money he will pay the app for each goal he doesn’t complete, between $5 and $50. At the end of the week, those who achieved their goals get paid by the users who weren’t so successful. According to Marissa Window, Pact’s head of marketing, the app’s 550,000 users meet about 92 percent of their goals every week, and getting charged by the app usually isn’t a cause to stop use.

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