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Do Persuasive Technologies Persuade? - A Review of Empirical Studies

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This paper reviews the current body of empirical research on persuasive technologies (95 studies). In recent years, technology has been increasingly harnessed to persuade and motivate people to engage in various behaviors. This phenomenon has also attracted substantial scholarly interest over the last decade. This review examines the results, methods, measured behavioral and psychological outcomes, affordances in implemented persuasive systems, and domains of the studies in the current body of research on persuasive technologies. The reviewed studies have investigated diverse persuasive systems/designs, psychological factors, and behavioral outcomes. The results of the reviewed studies were categorized into fully positive, partially positive, and negative and/or no effects. This review provides an overview of the state of empirical research regarding persuasive technologies. The paper functions as a reference in positioning future research within the research stream of persuasive technologies in terms of the domain, the persuasive stimuli and the psychological and behavioral outcomes.
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Do Persuasive Technologies Persuade? - A Review of Empirical Studies
Juho Hamari, Game Research Lab, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland, juho.hamari@uta.fi
Jonna Koivisto, Game Research Lab, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland, jonna.koivisto@uta.fi
Tuomas Pakkanen, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland, tuomas.pakkanen@aalto.fi
To cite:
Hamari, J., Koivisto, J., & Pakkanen, T. (2014). Do Persuasive Technologies Persuade? - A Review of Empirical Studies. In:
Spagnolli, A., Chittaro, L., & Gamberini, L. (Eds.), Persuasive Technology, LNCS 8462, pp. 118-136. Springer International
Publishing, Switzerland.
The final publication will be available at link.springer.com.
Abstract. This paper reviews the current body of empirical research on persuasive technologies (95 studies). In
recent years, technology has been increasingly harnessed to persuade and motivate people to engage in various
behaviors. This phenomenon has also attracted substantial scholarly interest over the last decade. This review
examines the results, methods, measured behavioral and psychological outcomes, affordances in implemented
persuasive systems, and domains of the studies in the current body of research on persuasive technologies. The
reviewed studies have investigated diverse persuasive systems/designs, psychological factors, and behavioral
outcomes. The results of the reviewed studies were categorized into fully positive, partially positive, and negative
and/or no effects. This review provides an overview of the state of empirical research regarding persuasive
technologies. The paper functions as a reference in positioning future research within the research stream of
persuasive technologies in terms of the domain, the persuasive stimuli and the psychological and behavioral
outcomes.
Keywords: persuasive technology, motivational affordance, gamification, persuasive computing, captology, game-
based learning, behavioral change support system, sustainability, health technology.
1 Introduction
In recent years, technology has been increasingly harnessed in pursuit of persuading people and motivating them
toward various individually and collectively beneficial behaviors. There are two dominant conceptual approaches:
the longer-established persuasive technology
1
[1,2,3] and the more recent but increasingly popular gamification
[4,5,6]. As Figure 1 shows, the number of gamification-related studies has rapidly increased; however, it seems
that in the body of literature on persuasive technologies in particular, a relatively larger proportion of empirical
studies exist [7]. Despite these differing titles, the conceptual core of both veins of development incorporates 1)
the use of technology that 2) is aimed at affecting people’s/users’ psychological attributes, such as attitudes or
motivations, which are further presumed to 3) affect behavior. While the behaviors that are supported by these
technologies may be similar, there are differences, which seem to stem mainly from the emphases in the
articulation of the persuasive stimuli and the psychological mediators; whereas persuasive technology focuses
more on social and communicative persuasion and attitude change, gamification centers more around invoking
users’ (intrinsic) motivations (through gameful experiences and affordances) (see e.g. [8]). The present paper
contributes to research in this area by reviewing empirical studies of the persuasive technology field in particular.
1
Also referred to as “captology.”
Fig. 1. Number of search hits, by year, for the main keywords associated with the relevant streams of research from paper titles,
keywords, and abstracts in the Scopus database
The study of persuasive technologies first emerged in the academic environment in the late 1990s [9]. However,
scholarly writing on them only truly began to proliferate in 2005. Since then, the amount of writing on the topic
has been increasing steadily (see Figure 1). By 2013, research into persuasive technologies is abundant, with most
of the studies being conducted in the field of humancomputer interaction. A previous literature review [10]
mapped research into persuasive technologies by looking at papers presented at the International Conferences on
Persuasive Technology prior to 2009. The emphasis in its review of 51 studies (as compared to the 95 considered
in the present work) was mainly on the design aspects presented in the studies.
Regardless of the conceptual framings and the steady increase in the quantity of related literature, it remains
unclear what the actual empirical studies have investigated as persuasive stimuli, psychological
mediators/outcomes, and behavioral outcomes. Consequently, there is still a dearth of coherent understanding of
the field of persuasive technologies with respect to the research outcomes. This may be detrimental to future
inquiries within these streams of research.
Therefore, this review systematically examines an extensive body of literature (95 studies) branding itself as
addressing persuasive technologies. We investigate the system elements, the psychological mediators/outcomes,
the behavioral outcomes, and the purposes for which persuasive technologies were harnessed in the reviewed
studies. The results of the review provide insight into the field of persuasive technologies as a whole and enable
comparison with parallel developments (such as gamification). Furthermore, the results outline the focus of the
research so far and highlight which areas show a dearth of studies. For practitioners, this literature review provides
a useful starting point for gaining an overview of the field of persuasive technologies.
2 Persuasive Technologies
Persuasive technologies have been defined as interactive systems designed for attitude and/or behavior change [1],
[3], [9], [11]. Fogg [9] defines the concept of persuasion in more detail as “an attempt to shape, reinforce, or change
behaviors, feelings, or thoughts about an issue, object, or action.” On a general level, motivational systems such
as persuasive technologies and gamification build on the assumption that human behavior and attitudes may be
influenced through technology. All information systems can be considered to influence the users in some way [2].
However, for a technology to be actually called “persuasive,” the persuasion has to be intentional [9]; that is, the
technology must have been designed for the purpose of guiding the user towards an attitude or behavior change.
It follows that a concept of a desired attitude or behavior has to guide the design process.
According to the literature defining persuasive technologies, in addition to the intentionality, the event of
persuasion and the strategy must also be considered in the design of such systems [2,3]. As the intent determines
the intended outcomes or changes in attitude or behavior, the event refers to the usage and user of the persuasive
technology, and the strategy to the message and how it is delivered [2]. Previous discussion of the topic has
emphasized the importance of contextual factors of persuasion and the interactions among persuader, user, and
technology [3]. It has been suggested [2] that, for better discernment of the outcomes of persuasive technologies,
these technologies could be categorized in terms of whether they are intended to 1) form, 2) alter, or 3) reinforce
one of the following: 1) attitudes, 2) behaviors, or 3) an act of complying.
On the level of design, persuasive technologies have been considered to consist of 1) primary task support (i.e.,
features supporting the core activity or behavior), 2) computerhuman dialogue support (i.e., feedback from the
system), 3) perceived system credibility (i.e., features making the system seem credible and trustworthy), and 4)
social influence (i.e., features inducing motivation through social influence) [2,3]. Design guidelines and principles
for these elements have been presented [3].
Whether the actual empirical works on persuasive technologies implement these persuasive designs is as of yet
unclear. Furthermore, regarding the aims of persuasive technology, the technologies seek to induce attitude change
in addition to changing behaviors. However, attitude as such is rarely studied as a psychological outcome in studies
of persuasive technology (see Table 4). Therefore, mapping of the actual empirical works is required.
To connect the conceptualizations of persuasive technologies to a wider framework, we integrate the definition
of persuasive technologies with the concept of motivational affordances and its relationship to psychological and
behavioral outcomes [12], [4], [13] in information technology (see Figure 2). This conceptual framing is suitable
for a literature review because of its level of abstraction, which enables identification of the aforementioned aspects
in all of the empirical studies reviewed.
Fig. 2. The conceptual framing
3 The Review Process
3.1 The Literature Search and Criteria for Relevance
The review process began with selection of the sources to be used for the literature searches. We chose the Scopus
database, the largest database of scholarly works, since it covers all the relevant publication venues for persuasion-
related research. The search terms “persuasive technology” and “captology” were searched for in titles, abstracts,
and keywords. The search produced 444 hits. For comparison, the IEEE database and ACM Digital Library yielded
only 43 and 123 papers, respectively. However, the contents of both of these libraries are listed in the Scopus
database.
For all hits in the search, the name and abstract were scanned, as was the information on whether the item was
a full research paper rather than an abstract. All full research papers that potentially contained an empirical study
entered a second round of review, in which the papers’ content was scanned for the inclusion of an empirical study,
to rule out ambiguous cases. This procedure was carried out by two researchers individually. The two resulting
sets of papers by the researchers were largely the same, and the few divergences were further discussed in a team
that assessed their meeting of the selection criteria. As a result, 95 studies (in 89 papers) were selected for review
(see Appendix). The following criteria were applied for inclusion of papers:
1. The paper included an empirical study.
2. The research methods were explicated.
3. The paper described the persuasive stimuli/technology.
4. The paper investigated relationships between persuasive stimuli, psychological mediators/outcomes, and
behavioral outcomes in some combination.
The papers excluded from the review belonged to at least one of the following categories:
1. Conceptual articles and frameworks.
2. Descriptions of the development of a system/application but without evaluation of the system.
3. Papers that mentioned persuasive technologies but did not actually study a topic connected with such
technologies.
4. Limited research reports (pilot studies reported in sufficient detail were included).
5. Abstracts (including extended abstracts) and posters.
6. Studies reported upon in a later paper (the later version was included instead).
3.2 Analysis
Analysis of the selected studies was a two-stage process following the guidelines of the well-regarded MISQ article
by Webster and Watson [14]. The first step features an author-centric analysis wherein studies are listed in a table,
one per row. Selected details from the papers are entered in the various columns. For this review, the details
included 1) the reference, 2) the domain to which the persuasive technology was related, 3) the psychological
mediators/outcomes, 4) the behavioral outcomes, 5) the results, and related to methodology 6) the sample size
and 7) methods used (including the data source). The second stage with the literature review framework is concept-
centric. In this step, the author-centric analysis was pivoted and coded (with some abstraction to connect related
papers under a given category) into concept-centric frequency tables. These tables are reported as the results of this
review in the next section of the paper.
4 Results
4.1 Reported Results
Table 1 summarizes the reported results for the reviewed studies. In all, 52 studies reported positive results for the
persuasive technology examined. These account for 54.7% of the reviewed studies. Partially positive results refer
to situations wherein some but not all of the studied elements showed positive results. Partially positive results
were reported in 36 studies (37.9%). The category “negative and other” covers papers with fully negative results,
no negative or positive results, or no results at all. As is evident from Table 1, fully negative results were reported
in very few papers (as is to be expected).
Table 1. Reported results (codes refer to the full list of studies, in the appendix)
Result
Study
Total
% of all
Positive
A02, A04, A05, A06, A07, A08, A09, A10, A11, A13, A14, A15,
A16, A18, A19, A21, A23, A25, A26, A27, A28, A29, A31, A32,
A34, A37, A41, A43, A48, A49, A51, A52b, A52c, A54, A55,
A56, A61, A63, A64b, A66, A68, A69, A70, A71, A73, A74,
A75, A76, A78, A83, A85, A88
52
54.7
Partially
positive
A01, A03, A12, A17, A20, A22, A24, A30, A33, A35, A38, A39,
A40a, A42, A44, A45, A46, A47, A50, A52a, A53, A57, A58,
A59, A62, A64d, A67, A72, A77, A79, A80, A81, A82, A84,
A86, A87
36
37.9
Negative
or other
A36, A40b, A60, A64a, A64c, A65, A89
7
7.4
4.2 Types of Studies
Table 2 reports the types of the studies that is, the methodology used. Papers employing quantitative methods
were in the majority. These included both inferential as well as descriptive research. Of all reviewed studies, 54.7%
were fully quantitative. Studies using mixed methods formed another large category, accounting for nearly a third
of all studies (29.5%). Fully qualitative studies were in the minority (15.8%).
The most frequently used quantitative methods were surveys, manual or automatic data logs, and statistical
analyses. The main qualitative methods were user interviews, focus-group discussions, and observations from
persuasive technology use.
Table 2. Types of studies (codes refer to the full list of studies, in the appendix)
Studies with positive
results
Studies with partially
positive results
Studies with
negative
results
Total
% of
all
A05, A06, A08, A10,
A11, A13, A16, A23,
A26, A27, A29, A31,
A32, A34, A37, A41,
A51, A52b, A52c, A54,
A55, A61, A66, A69,
A73, A75, A76, A78,
A85
A03, A12, A17, A20,
A33, A35, A38, A40a,
A42, A44, A52a, A53,
A57, A58, A59, A67,
A77, A80, A84, A87
A36, A40b,
A65
52
54.7
A02, A04, A07, A09,
A15, A18, A49, A56,
A68, A71, A74
A62, A79, A81
A60
15
15.8
A14, A19, A21, A25,
A28, A43, A48, A63,
A64b, A70, A83, A88
A01, A22, A24, A30, A39,
A45, A46, A47, A50,
A64d, A72, A82, A86
A64a, A64c,
A89
28
29.5
The sample sizes in the reviewed studies varied greatly, from 2 to 1,704. Furthermore, not all studies reported a
sample size, and in some cases, the study process was composed of several phases, with different methods and
differing sample sizes. The sample size was clearly reported in 87 of the studies, for which the mean size was 102
and the median 26.
In light of the literature review, the typical methods of a study of persuasive technology could be described in
the following manner. The studies usually describe an implementation of a persuasive technology, often designed
by the authors. A typical quantitative study included a survey or questionnaire for users of the implementation /
test subjects and/or included tracking of use data. The qualitative studies mainly consisted of questionnaires or
interviews carried out with users of the implementation. Typical mixed-method studies of persuasive technologies
featured methods similar to those of the typical quantitative and qualitative studies.
4.3 Motivational Affordances
Table 3 reports the most prevalent motivational affordances in the reviewed studies. Some studies evaluated existing
persuasive technologies, while in other papers the studied technology was a prototype or an application developed
for purposes of the research.
The variety of motivational elements in the studies was wide. The affordances implemented most often were
visual and audio feedback, social features, progress and persuasive messages, and reminders. In addition, many of
the studied technologies featured also objectives and goals, rewards, and competition. Social agents and ambient
displays were also found to be among the popular implementations.
Table 3. Motivational affordances (codes refer to the full list of studies, in the appendix)
Motivational affordance
Study
Total
Visual or audio feedback
A01, A09, A10, A11, A12, A13, A15, A21, A25, A34, A47,
A48, A49, A50, A51, A54, A56, A59, A64b, A66, A70, A71,
A72, A80, A83
25
Social support, comparisons,
feedback, interaction, sharing
A13, A18, A25, A26, A28, A35, A36, A44, A46, A49, A58,
A59, A64d, A66, A79, A81, A82, A83, A86, A88, A87, A89
22
Progress
A04, A10, A15, A18, A19, A39, A42, A45, A49, A54, A62,
A68, A69, A79, A88, A89
16
Persuasive messages and
reminders
A02, A04, A06, A13, A29, A42, A49, A53, A61, A62, A63,
A65, A74, A77, A82, A86
16
Objectives and goals
A01, A04, A14, A15, A18, A27, A28, A39, A42, A49, A62,
A63, A73, A75, A84
15
Rewards, credits, points,
achievements
A04, A05, A08, A09, A10, A27, A36, A44, A49, A53, A60,
A62, A64d, A70, A71, A80, A81
15
Ambient or public displays
(displays embedded into the
environment)
A18, A32, A37, A47, A48, A50, A64a, A64b, A64c, A64d,
A70, A72, A83
13
Social agents
(non-human, computerized
assistants)
A02, A03, A31, A33, A34, A38, A55, A57, A58, A67, A73, A74
12
Competition, leaderboards,
ranking
A04, A08, A09, A18, A25, A26, A27, A31, A36, A49, A81,
A89
12
Emoticons and expressions
A03, A06, A34, A37, A53, A64a, A69, A74
8
Suggestions, advice
A27, A30, A49, A53, A69, A79
6
Tracking
A51, A80, A84
3
Video-based persuasion
A61, A76, A85
3
Positive reinforcement
A10, A68
2
Subliminal persuasion
A75
1
Not specified
A16, A17, A20, A23, A40a, A40b, A52a, A52b, A52c
9
4.4 Psychological Outcomes
Table 4 reports the studied psychological mediators/outcomes. As indicated by Table 4, most of the persuasive
technologies studied in the reviewed papers featured design aimed at increasing engagement and encouragement,
along with motivation through persuasion. Additionally, persuasive technologies increasing users’ awareness
pertaining to, for example, health and ecologically sound consumption were studied.
It should be noted that not all of the studies actually measured psychological elements; rather, they are discussed
as intended consequences of persuasion in the given implementation.
Table 4. Psychological outcomes (codes refer to the full list of studies, in the appendix)
Psychological
mediators/outcomes
Study
Total
Engagement,
encouragement
A01, A02, A05, A09, A14, A15, A18, A19, A21, A25, A26, A28,
A29, A30, A36, A42, A47, A49, A55, A60, A62, A63, A66, A67,
A69, A76, A81, A86
28
Motivation
A01, A02, A05, A08, A10, A15, A18, A26, A27, A28, A31, A36,
A42, A44, A45, A51, A56, A62, A63, A67, A69, A80, A81, A85
24
Awareness
A08, A11, A12, A21, A24, A25, A27, A28, A43, A47, A48, A50,
A61, A64, A70, A74, A76, A80, A81, A83, A88
21
Enjoyment, “fun”
A01, A04, A05, A08, A09, A10, A19, A25, A36, A45, A49, A72,
A80, A89
14
Negative attributes
A01, A03, A12, A64, A66, A73, A78, A79, A81, A82, A89
11
Attitude
A04, A22, A33, A44, A49, A54, A67, A76
8
Self-efficacy
A10, A11, A39, A49, A51, A67, A85
7
Trust, credibility
A16, A17, A23
3
Commitment
A28, A85
2
Sense of community
A22
1
Adherence
A85
1
Some of the studies were also concerned with negative attributes of the persuasive technologies. Among these
were frustration (A01), cognitive overload (A03), anxiety (A12), perceived amateurness (A23), peer pressure
(A66), threat to personal autonomy (A73), and feelings of guilt from neglecting the behavior one is being
persuaded to perform (A81).
4.5 Target Behaviors of Persuasive Technologies
Table 5 reports the domains of the target behaviors of the persuasive technologies in the reviewed studies. In all,
47.4% of the studies examined persuasive technologies in a health and/or exercise context. The second most
frequently studied implementation domain was ecological consumption (21.1%); this included, for example,
technologies aimed at conserving energy. In addition, persuasive implementations in the domain of education and
learning were common among the studies reviewed.
Table 5. Domains of target behaviors (codes refer to the full list of studies, in the appendix)
Context
Studies with
positive results
Studies with partially
positive results
Studies with
negative
results
Total
% of
all
Health,
exercise
A02, A05, A07, A13,
A14, A15, A18, A19,
A26, A28, A31, A43,
A49, A51, A52b,
A52c, A54, A55, A63,
A64b, A66, A68, A78,
A85, A88
A01, A30, A35, A39,
A42, A44, A45, A46,
A52a, A53, A57, A62,
A72, A77, A79, A82,
A86
A36, A64a,
A89
45
47.4
Ecological
consumption
and/or behavior
A08, A21, A25, A27,
A32, A37, A48, A73,
A74, A75, A83
A47, A50, A58, A59,
A64d, A80, A81, A84
A64c
20
21.1
Education,
learning
A06, A10, A29, A56,
A70
A03, A22, A33, A67
A60
10
10.5
Economic,
commercial,
marketing
A16, A76
A17, A20, A38
A65
6
6.3
Security, safety
A04, A11, A34, A61
A12, A24
6
6.3
Entertainment
A09, A71
2
2.1
No specific
domain
A23, A41, A69
A40a, A87
A40b
6
6.3
5 Discussion
Addressing the title of this literature review, it can be concluded that, in the published literature, persuasive
technologies indeed seem to persuade people into various behaviors. In the reviewed studies, a diverse array of
psychological factors were discussed or measured as antecedents of the target behavior and/or as outcomes of the
effects of persuasive technology. However, even though persuasive technologies are, by definition [1], aimed at
changing attitudes in addition to behavior, only a few of the papers explicitly included general attitude as a variable
[15].
Expectedly, but interestingly, it seems that persuasive technologies are implemented especially in contexts
wherein people would be willing to undertake the target activities but find it difficult to start or continue working
toward them. Among these activities are healthy habits, learning, and ecological behavior. This notion lends
support to the idea that an important aspect with persuasive technologies and gamification is whether the
encouraged activity is something the user is trying to accomplish regardless of the system or the user is instead
persuaded toward a behavior that is valuable only for the designer of the system.
5.1 General Pitfalls in the Literature
Several shortcomings could be identified during the literature review. 1) The sample sizes were often rather small
(median N = 26). 2) While many papers did measure experiences and attitudes with validated scales, many did
not. 3) Some experiments lacked control groups and relied solely on user evaluation. 4) The persuasive system
was often investigated as a whole instead of distinguishing between effects of individual affordances. 5) Many
studies presented only descriptive statistics even though they could have easily made inferences about relationships
among constructs. 6) Experiment timeframes were very short in most cases (novelty may have significantly skewed
the test subjects’ experiences). Finally, 7) there was lack of clarity in reporting the results. Further work should
attempt in particular to avoid these pitfalls in order to refine research on persuasive technologies.
5.2 Limitations and Directions for Further Research
The literature search for this review included hits only for the keywords “persuasive technology” and “captology.
This might have limited the body of literature with a few papers. In addition, similar technologies may have been
investigated outside technology-oriented fields. In fact, we found two related meta-analyses conducted in the field
of medical sciences. However, no noteworthy overlap with the present study was detected with regard to the
reviewed papers (see [16,17]).
Another limitation of the research at this stage is that the present paper does not yet comprehensively report and
distinguish which specific affordances affect which psychological or behavioral outcomes. Therefore, this work
must be regarded as an exploratory overview of the field. Further research should break down the results stemming
from persuasive technology implementations in more detail in order to further the mapping of the field.
Furthermore, many of the reviewed papers do not properly measure psychological factors; rather, they
hypothesize and discuss them as psychological outcomes of the given persuasive technology implementations.
Therefore, further research should distinguish between studies in a more comprehensive manner regarding the
employed research models while also reporting more accurately which aspects have been properly measured.
Since the reviewed studies vary in their methods and in the details of the research questions, they might not all
be directly comparable. For example, although many studies might be categorized as having positive results, finer
details would be needed to be able to assign studies into more comparable, commensurate groups. Therefore,
further studies should seek to establish more refined and detailed comparison regarding these issues.
One possible avenue for advancing the mapping of the field of persuasive technologies and related areas would
be to conduct bibliometric analyses containing author, publication venue, year, keyword, and network analyses
(see e.g. [19]). Bibliometric analyses facilitate distinguishing among sub-streams of research within and between
disciplines / conceptual areas. They also support the consolidation of findings.
Although Scopus evidently features the most comprehensive collection of research papers related to persuasive
technology, a meta-study could explore more database options, to guarantee the inclusion of all relevant research.
We estimate that the searches of only Scopus captured most of the relevant studies.
Furthermore, one limitation of the paper is that, as in literature reviews in general, the possibility of publication
bias must be considered. This bias, a tendency for papers with statistically significant or positive results to be more
readily submitted and also accepted for publication, has been shown to exist (see e.g. [18]). For example, one
analysis, looking mainly at studies in the medical field [18], has indicated that publication and outcome reporting
biases are prevalent and affect the published research. According to that analysis, studies with positive findings
were more likely to be published than were those with negative or null results. Even though the existence of
publication bias among the studies included in this literature review is hard to ascertain, its potential effects on the
findings should be kept in mind when considering the results of the review.
Ethics Statement. This work respects professional code of conduct and does not qualify as coercion or deceit.
Acknowledgements. This research has been supported by individual study grants from the Finnish Cultural
Foundation as well as carried out as part of research projects (40311/12, 40134/13) funded by the Finnish Funding
Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES).
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Appendix
Appendix. Reviewed studies
A01 Albaina, I.M., Visser, T., Van Der Mast, C.A.P.G., Vastenburg, M.H.: Flowie: A persuasive virtual coach to motivate
elderly individuals to walk. In: 3rd International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare, pp.
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A02 Arteaga, S.M., Kudeki, M., Woodworth, A., Kurniawan, S.: Mobile system to motivate teenagers' physical activity. In:
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A04 Bergmans, A., Shahid, S.: Reducing speeding behavior in young drivers using a persuasive mobile application. In:
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A05 Berkovsky, S., Freyne, J., Coombe, M.: Physical activity motivating games: Be active and get your own reward. ACM
Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 19(4) (2012)
A06 Berque, D., Billingsley, A., Bonebright, T.L., Burgess, J., Johnson, S.K., Wethington, B.: Design and evaluation of
persuasive technology to encourage healthier typing behaviors. In: Haugtvedt, C.P., Stibe, A. (eds.) PERSUASIVE '11
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A07 Bhatnagar, N., Sinha, A., Samdaria, N., Gupta, A., Batra, S., Bhardwaj, M., Thies, W.: Biometric monitoring as a
persuasive technology: Ensuring patients visit health centers in India's slums. In: Bang, M., Ragnemalm, E.L. (eds.)
PERSUASIVE 2012. LNCS, vol. 7284, pp. 169180. Springer, Heidelberg (2012)
A08 Centieiro, P., Romão, T., Dias, A.E.: A location-based multiplayer mobile game to encourage pro-environmental
behaviours. In: Romão, T., Correia, N., Inami, M., Kato, H., Prada, R., Terada, T., Dias, E., Chambel, T. (eds.) ACE '11
International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology. ACM, New York (2011)
A09 Centieiro, P., Romão, T., Dias, A.E.: Applaud having fun: A mobile game to cheer your favourite sports team. In: Nijholt,
A., Romão, T., Reidsma, D. (eds.) Advances in Computer Entertainment. LNCS, vol. 7624, pp. 116. Springer,
Heidelberg (2012)
A10 Chang, Y.-C., Lo, J.-L., Huang, C.-J., Hsu, N.-Y., Chu, H.-H., Wang, H.-Y., Chi, P.-Y., Hsieh, Y.-L.: Playful Toothbrush:
UbiComp technology for teaching tooth brushing to kindergarten children. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference
on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2008, pp. 363372. ACM, New York (2008)
A11 Chittaro, L.: Passengers' safety in aircraft evacuations: Employing serious games to educate and persuade. In: Bang, M.,
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A12 Chittaro, L., Zangrando, N.: The persuasive power of virtual reality: Effects of simulated human distress on attitudes
towards fire safety. In: Ploug, T., Hasle, P., Oinas-Kukkonen, H. (eds.) PERSUASIVE 2010. LNCS, vol. 6137, pp. 58
69. Springer, Heidelberg (2010)
A13 Chiu, M.-C., Chang, S.-P., Chang, Y.-C., Chu, H.-H., Chen, C.C.-H., Hsiao, F.-H., Ko, J.-C.: Playful bottle: A mobile
social persuasion system to motivate healthy water intake. In: Ubicomp '09: Proceedings of the 11th international
conference on Ubiquitous computing, pp. 185194. ACM, New York (2009)
A14 Consolvo, S., Klasnja, P., McDonald, D.W., Avrahami, D., Froehlich, J., Legrand, L., Libby, R., Mosher, K., Landay,
J.A.: Flowers or a robot army?: Encouraging awareness & activity with personal, mobile displays. In: UbiComp '08:
Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing, pp. 5463. ACM, New York (2008)
A15 Consolvo, S., McDonald, D.W., Toscos, T., Chen, M.Y., Froehlich, J., Harrison, B., Klasnja, P., LaMarea, A., LeGrand,
L., Libby, R., Smith, I., Landay, J.A.: Activity sensing in the wild: A field trial of UbiFit Garden. In: CHI '08 Proceedings
of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 17971806. ACM, New York (2008)
A16 Cugelman, B., Thelwall, M., Dawes, P.: Website credibility, active trust and behavioural intent. In: Oinas-Kukkonen, H.,
Hasle, P., Harjumaa, M., Segerståhl, K., Øhrstrøm, P. (eds.) PERSUASIVE 2008. LNCS, vol. 5033, pp. 4557. Springer,
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A17 Cugelman, B., Thelwall, M., Dawes, P.: The Dimensions of Web Site Credibility and Their Relation to Active Trust and
Behavioural Impact. Communications of the Association for Information Systems 24 (2009)
A18 Faber, J.P., Markopoulos, P., Dadlani, P., van Halteren, A.: AULURA: Engaging users with ambient persuasive
technology. In: Keyson, D.V., Maher, M.L., Streitz, N., Cheok, A., Augusto, J.C. (eds.) AmI'11. LNCS, vol. 7040, pp.
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A19 Fabri, M., Wall, A., Trevorrow, P.: Changing eating behaviors through a cooking-based website for the whole family. In:
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A20 Felfernig, A., Friedrich, G., Gula, B., Hitz, M., Kruggel, T., Leitner, G., Melcher, R., Riepan, D., Strauss, S., Teppan, E.,
Vitouch, O.: Persuasive recommendation: Serial position effects in knowledge-based recommender systems. In: de Kort,
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A21 Filonik, D., Medland, R., Foth, M., Rittenbruch, M.: A customisable dashboard display for environmental performance
visualisations. In: Berkovsky, S., Freyne, J. (eds.) PERSUASIVE 2013. LNCS, vol. 7822, pp. 5162. Springer,
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A22 Firpo, D., Kasemvilas, S., Ractham, P., Zhang, X.: Generating a sense of community in a graduate educational setting
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A23 Fogg, B.J., Marshall, J., Laraki, O., Osipovich, A., Varma, C., Fang, N., Paul, J., Rangnekar, A., Shon, J., Swani, P.,
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A24 Forget, A., Chiasson, S., van Oorschot, P.C., Biddle, R.: Improving text passwords through persuasion. In: SOUPS '08
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A25 Foster, D., Lawson, S., Blythe, M., Cairns, P.: Wattsup?: Motivating reductions in domestic energy consumption using
social networks. In: NordiCHI 2010: Proceedings of the 6th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, pp.
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A26 Foster, D., Linehan, C., Kirman, B., Lawson, S., James, G.: Motivating physical activity at work: Using persuasive social
media for competitive step counting. In: MindTrek '10 Proceedings of the 14th International Academic MindTrek
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A27 Gamberini, L., Spagnolli, A., Corradi, N., Jacucci, G., Tusa, G., Mikkola, T., Zamboni, L., Hoggan, E.: Tailoring
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A28 Gasca, E., Favela, J., Tentori, M.: Persuasive virtual communities to promote a healthy lifestyle among patients with
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A29 Goh, T.-T., Seet, B.-C., Chen, N.-S. The impact of persuasive SMS on students' self-regulated learning. British Journal
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A30 Graham, C., Benda, P., Howard, S., Balmford, J., Bishop, N., Borland, R.: "heh - Keeps me off the smokes...": Probing
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A31 Halan, S., Rossen, B., Cendan, J., Lok, B.: High score! - Motivation strategies for user participation in virtual human
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A32 Ham, J., Midden, C.: Ambient persuasive technology needs little cognitive effort: The differential effects of cognitive
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A33 Ham, J., Bokhorst, R., Cuijpers, R., van der Pol, D., Cabibihan, J.-J.: Making robots persuasive: The influence of
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A34 Hartwig, M., Windel, A.: Safety and health at work through persuasive assistance systems. In: Duffy, V.G. (ed.) Digital
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A35 Jeen, Y., Han, J., Kim, H., Lee, K., Park, P.: Persuasive interaction strategy for self diet system: Exploring the relation
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A36 Johnston, H., Whitehead, A.: Pose presentation for a dance-based massively multiplayer online exergame. Entertainment
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A37 Kalnikaite, V., Rogers, Y., Bird, J., Villar, N., Bachour, K., Payne, S., Todd, P.M., Schöning, J., Krüger, A., Kreitmayer,
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A38 Kamei, K., Shinozawa, K., Ikeda, T., Utsumi, A., Miyashita, T., Hagita, N.: Recommendation from robots in a real-world
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A39 Kaplan, B., Farzanfar, R., Friedman, R.H.: Personal relationships with an intelligent interactive telephone health behavior
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A47 Kim, S., Paulos, E.: inAir: Sharing indoor air quality measurements and visualizations. In: CHI '10 Proceedings of the
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... Persuasive technologies are defined as interactive systems, which are intentionally designed to influence their users in order to change their attitude and/or behavior (Fogg 1998). These technologies and their design principles can further be categorized in (a) primary task support, (b) computer-human dialogue support, (c) system credibility and (d) social support (Hamari et al. 2014;Oinas-Kukkonen and Harjumaa 2009). ...
... Finally, design features in the social support category describe how to design the system in a way that motivates its users by leveraging social influence through functionalities to observe, compare, and learn from other users as well as facilitating interaction, cooperation, competition, and recognition of successfully achieving behavior change goals, e.g., through the sharing of leaderboards or rankings (Hamari et al. 2014;Naslund et al. 2017;Oinas-Kukkonen and Harjumaa 2009;Orji and Moffatt 2018). Examples for this type of features are: interactive tools like messaging and chats with other users, user groups, social media sharing functions, rankings, the possibility to follow and mentoring functions (Mylonopoulou et al. 2018). ...
... Finally, 8% of the studies reported no effect of persuasive design on the intended health behavior change (Orji and Moffatt 2018). Hamari et al. (2014) reported in their literature review 52% of positive, 36% of mixed, and 7% of negative outcomes related to persuasive design approaches in health behavior change. ...
... Persuasive technologies are defined as interactive systems, which are intentionally designed to influence their users in order to change their attitude and/or behavior (Fogg 1998). These technologies and their design principles can further be categorized in (a) primary task support, (b) computer-human dialogue support, (c) system credibility and (d) social support (Hamari et al. 2014;Oinas-Kukkonen and Harjumaa 2009). ...
... Finally, design features in the social support category describe how to design the system in a way that motivates its users by leveraging social influence through functionalities to observe, compare, and learn from other users as well as facilitating interaction, cooperation, competition, and recognition of successfully achieving behavior change goals, e.g., through the sharing of leaderboards or rankings (Hamari et al. 2014;Naslund et al. 2017;Oinas-Kukkonen and Harjumaa 2009;Orji and Moffatt 2018). Examples for this type of features are: interactive tools like messaging and chats with other users, user groups, social media sharing functions, rankings, the possibility to follow and mentoring functions (Mylonopoulou et al. 2018). ...
... Finally, 8% of the studies reported no effect of persuasive design on the intended health behavior change (Orji and Moffatt 2018). Hamari et al. (2014) reported in their literature review 52% of positive, 36% of mixed, and 7% of negative outcomes related to persuasive design approaches in health behavior change. ...
Chapter
The aim of this chapter is to introduce and describe how digital technologies, in particular smartphones, can be used in research in two areas, namely (i) to conduct personality assessment and (ii) to assess and promote physical activity. This area of research is very timely, because it demonstrates how the ubiquitously available smartphone technology—next to its known advantages in day-to-day life—can provide insights into many variables, relevant for psycho-social research, beyond what is possible within the classic spectrum of self-report inventories and laboratory experiments. The present chapter gives a brief overview on first empirical studies and discusses both opportunities and challenges in this rapidly developing research area. Please note that the personality part of this chapter in the second edition has been slightly updated.
... In this chapter, we will present results from studies investigating the effect of gamification on motivation and behavior of users across three different behavior change contexts: physical activity, public health, and marketing/advertising. All three of these are commonly studied behavior change contexts, as revealed by a literature review by Hamari, Koivisto and Pakkanen [145]. ...
... By informing our hypotheses and the dependent variables being measured in all our studies based on SDT, we have a consistent operationalization and thus are able to contribute insights on how gamification affects motivation in different behavior change contexts, which allows us to reason about the influence of the context itself. We considered two health-related behavior change contexts, physical activity and hand washing, since health is the most prominent context in which persuasive technologies are investigated [145]. ...
... In addition, we investigate gamification in the context of online advertising, another commonly used behavior change context [145]. ...
Thesis
Gamification, the use of game elements in non-game contexts, has been shown to help people reaching their goals, affect people's behavior and enhance the users' experience within interactive systems. However, past research has shown that gamification is not always successful. In fact, literature reviews revealed that almost half of the interventions were only partially successful or even unsuccessful. Therefore, understanding the factors that have an influence on psychological measures and behavioral outcomes of gamified systems is much in need. In this thesis, we contribute to this by considering the context in which gamified systems are applied and by understanding personal factors of users interacting with the system. Guided by Self-Determination Theory, a major theory on human motivation, we investigate gamification and its effects on motivation and behavior in behavior change contexts, provide insights on contextual factors, contribute knowledge on the effect of personal factors on both the perception and effectiveness of gamification elements and lay out ways of utilizing this knowledge to implement personalized gamified systems. Our contribution is manifold: We show that gamification affects motivation through need satisfaction and by evoking positive affective experiences, ultimately leading to changes in people's behavior. Moreover, we show that age, the intention to change behavior, and Hexad user types play an important role in explaining interpersonal differences in the perception of gamification elements and that tailoring gamified systems based on these personal factors has beneficial effects on both psychological and behavioral outcomes. Lastly, we show that Hexad user types can be partially predicted by smartphone data and interaction behavior in gamified systems and that they can be assessed in a gameful way, allowing to utilize our findings in gamification practice. Finally, we propose a conceptual framework to increase motivation in gamified systems, which builds upon our findings and outlines the importance of considering both contextual and personal factors. Based on these contributions, this thesis advances the field of gamification by contributing knowledge to the open questions of how and why gamification works and which factors play a role in this regard.
... artifacts (see reviews [15,16]), being common that affordances have only a reactive behavior, i.e. their output is only triggered by user interaction, and its behavior is handcrafted to a specific game task. The notions of proactive, semi-autonomous, or autonomous gamified elements have been disregarded in the gamification literature. ...
... Based on the list of selected papers (Table 2), and a set of review/survey papers [4,15,16,[50][51][52][53], we obtained a list of gamification strategies and gamification content presented in Table 3. In summary, persuasive strategies and content are combined in different forms to evaluate progress and levels of human activities [22,24,25,27,28,31,[33][34][35], as well as the use of rewards, which was confirmed with the state of the art i.e. the reviews and surveys that we assessed. ...
... This algorithm is an extension of an argument-based practical reasoning mechanism [60], generating goal, emotion, and value-oriented hypotheses. Algorithm 1 has three phases or procedures: a model update (lines 1-4), a hypotheses generation (lines [5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14], and a hypotheses selection (lines [15][16][17]. The function updates the G, V, E attitudes with their respective preferences. ...
Article
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Gamified software applications are omnipresent in everyday life. The idea of using game design elements in non-game contexts to engage and motivate tasks has rapidly gained traction in the human–computer interaction and the psychology fields, but scarcely in the artificial intelligence (AI) research area. In this paper, we propose a software agent perspective of gamification elements to solve two specific problems: (1) a reactive perspective that gamification designers have for those gamified affordances, i.e. the visual cue ( output ) is only triggered by user interaction, and (2) a lack of formal treatment of gamified software, where strict characterization of software behavior as done in AI, guarantee that the information-based output follows the intended goal of the software. Our contributions presented in this paper are (1) two taxonomies of affordances based on the type of information that every element communicates, and the type of agency that is capable; (2) a framework to formalize the decision-making process for gamified software agents; and (3) a characterization of gamified stories using formal argumentation theory dialogues. We exemplify our contributions with two gamified platforms in the healthcare and financial literacy fields.
... 5 The term persuasion refers to an attempt to shape, reinforce, or change behaviors, feelings, or thoughts about an issue, object, or action. 1 PT is broadly defined as technology that aims to change user behaviors or underlying attitudes. 1,[6][7][8] This concept has recently been challenged, because PT raises questions around the borderlines between encouragement, persuasion, and, in particular, coercion. 9 Advocates of the classical definition (which in general excludes coercion) suggested the term behavior change support systems. 10 Other researchers started explicitly avoiding the term PT and suggested using behavior change technologies instead, explicitly including coercion. ...
... Number of search hits, by year, for the queries (TITLE-ABS-KEY(gamification) AND PUBYEAR >1999) and (TITLE-ABS-KEY(Persuasive technology) AND PUBYEAR >1999) in the Scopus databaseAdapted from Hamari et al.7 ...
Article
Full-text available
Employees face decisions every day—in the absence of supervision. The outcome of these decisions can be influenced by digital workplace design through the power of persuasive technology. This article provides a structured literature review based on recent research on persuasive technology in the workplace. It examines the design and use of persuasive systems from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and theories. The reviewed studies were categorized into the research streams of technology design, user-centered research, and gamification. The purpose of the studies is categorized using a modified definition of the persuasive systems design model. A number of experimental studies show that alignment of the employee’s behavior with the employer’s agenda can be achieved. A robust finding is the key role of interactivity in granting employees a subjective experience of rapid and meaningful feedback when using the interface.
... Persuasive technologies are defined as interactive systems, which are intentionally designed to influence their users in order to change their attitude and/or behavior . These technologies and their design principles can further be categorized in a) primary task support, b) computer-human dialogue support, c) system credibility and d) social support (Hamari, Koivisto, & Pakkanen, 2014;Oinas-Kukkonen & Harjumaa, 2009). ...
... Finally, design features in the social support category describe how to design the system in a way that motivates its users by leveraging social influence through functionalities to observe, compare, and learn from other users as well as facilitating interaction, cooperation, competition, and recognition of successfully achieving behavior change goals, e.g., through the sharing of leaderboards or rankings (Hamari et al., 2014;Naslund et al., 2017;Oinas-Kukkonen & Harjumaa, 2009;Orji & Moffatt, 2018). Examples for this type of features are: interactive tools like messaging and chats with other users, user groups, social media sharing functions, rankings, the possibility to follow and mentoring functions . ...
Chapter
Gamification has numerous educational benefits, including increased student engagement, motivation, and understanding as it provides a fun and enjoyable learning environment, resulting in high academic performance. In non-game contexts such as education, gamification employs game-based elements such as mechanics, aesthetics, and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, improve learning, and solve problems. Prior research has primarily examined the effects of gamification on young adults, whereas other demographic groups, such as older adults, have received less attention. A well-designed gamification framework is required to create effective gamified learning experiences because using a poor framework can negatively affect student learning and motivation. Therefore, this study proposes a conceptual model that can be used to investigate in the relationship between gamification in education and self-efficacy and their effects on academic performance among Palestinian students and which also takes into account the potential moderating roles of gender and age in that relationship.
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This editorial article presents the shift from GaaP to GaaS trends in terms of the evolution of game development and publishing, business model innovations and diverse game applications enabled by emerging technologies.
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Of late there has been growing interest in the potential of technology to support children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) with social and life skills. There has also been a burgeoning interest in the potential use of mobile technology in the classroom and in the use of such technology to support children with ASD. Building on these developments, the HANDS project has developed a mobile cognitive support application for smartphones, based on the principles of persuasive technology design, which supports children with ASD with social and life skills functioning – areas of ability which tend to be impaired in this population. The software application has been piloted in four special schools for children with ASD. This paper reports on a qualitative interpretivist evaluation, which explores which factors may mediate how the software application is incorporated in to existing practice and what influence it has on practice. Kairos is identified as a key factor, which is associated with the teachers' view of the software application as extending their reach beyond the classroom. Design guidelines are proposed for future implementations of similarly purposed technology tools.
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Research dealing with various aspects of* the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1985, 1987) is reviewed, and some unresolved issues are discussed. In broad terms, the theory is found to be well supported by empirical evidence. Intentions to perform behaviors of different kinds can be predicted with high accuracy from attitudes toward the behavior, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control; and these intentions, together with perceptions of behavioral control, account for considerable variance in actual behavior. Attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control are shown to be related to appropriate sets of salient behavioral, normative, and control beliefs about the behavior, but the exact nature of these relations is still uncertain. Expectancy— value formulations are found to be only partly successful in dealing with these relations. Optimal rescaling of expectancy and value measures is offered as a means of dealing with measurement limitations. Finally, inclusion of past behavior in the prediction equation is shown to provide a means of testing the theory*s sufficiency, another issue that remains unresolved. The limited available evidence concerning this question shows that the theory is predicting behavior quite well in comparison to the ceiling imposed by behavioral reliability.
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This paper reports on the results of a study investigating how nutritional eating behaviors can be improved by presenting a cooking-based website for parents to use with their children. Participants’ eating behaviors were closely monitored via questionnaires and food diaries. Results show that over the course of the study, children’s willingness to consume fruit and vegetables had improved and they enjoyed participating in food preparation. This was supported by the participants’ food diaries, which showed a statistically significant increase in the number of portions of fruit and vegetables consumed by both children and parents. An attempt was made to place participants in a stage of change before and after the study (Transtheoretical Model). This was flawed, however, due to inaccurate measurements and the short study duration. Overall, this study provides support for the use of educational websites, in particular a cooking website, to improve nutritional eating behaviors in children.
Conference Paper
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A fundamental characteristic of ambient persuasive technology is the ability to persuade users outside of conscious attention. One method of influencing people outside of their conscious awareness is subliminal priming: Presenting a stimulus for less than 50 milliseconds so people can not consciously perceive it but they are able to process the information unconsciously. Earlier research has shown that subliminal feedback on energy consumption leads to more optimal choices in an energy-related choice task compared with no feedback. Would subliminal feedback always be effective in influencing people's choices, or do people need to be motivated to reach a specific goal for it to work? In the current research, we investigate if persuasion by subliminal feedback comprises a goal-striving related process in which people strive for a goal and use the subliminal information to reach that goal. In an experimental study, half of the participants were primed with the goal to perform well, and the other half was not primed with this goal. Next, half of the participants received subliminal feedback in a learning task, whereas the other half received no feedback. Results indicated that participants primed with a performance goal made more correct choices in the task when given the subliminal feedback compared with given no feedback. Participants who were not primed with a goal were not influenced by this feedback. This finding indicates the need for a behavior-relevant goal to make subliminal information effective, which in turn has important implications for research and design of ambient persuasive technology.
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In light of current calls by medical professionals to confront the global issue of obesity and related illnesses, we developed a mobile application called STEP UP that monitors physical activity and provides data that can be easily shared within a social network. We then conducted an exploratory, theoretical study based on the theory of reasoned action (TRA) followed by an experimental trial and user study. The purpose of the studies was to explore the effect of persuasive technology on physical activity behavior and to investigate its effectiveness in motivating users to use the technology to be more physically active. The application was found to have a positive effect on the participants and their level of physical activity. They enjoyed using the application and were motivated to walk more, especially when enabled to share their step counts with their friends. The social component of the application clearly enhanced users' walking experience, as the atmosphere of friendly competition motivated them to walk more. Based on user responses, we conclude that a further enhanced application that includes chat functionality may be even more successful in supporting increased physical activity and thus healthier lifestyle.
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Selling virtual goods for real money is an increasingly popular revenue model for massively-multiplayer online games (MMOs), social networking sites (SNSs) and other online hangouts. In this paper, we argue that the marketing of virtual goods currently falls short of what it could be. Game developers have long created compelling game designs, but having to market virtual goods to players is a relatively new situation to them. Professional marketers, on the other hand, tend to overlook the internal design of games and hangouts and focus on marketing the services as a whole. To begin bridging the gap, we propose that the design patterns and game mechanics commonly used in games and online hangouts should be viewed as a set of marketing techniques designed to sell virtual goods. Based on a review of a number of MMOs, we describe some of the most common patterns and game mechanics and show how their effects can be explained in terms of analogous techniques from marketing science. The results provide a new perspective to game design with interesting implications to developers. Moreover, they also suggest a radically new perspective to marketers of ordinary goods and services: viewing marketing as a form of game design.
Conference Paper
A software system was designed and implemented using an integrated set of persuasive approaches to encourage healthy typing behaviors that are often recommended for combating Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The system encourages users to avoid excessive typing speeds, to set up and use typing shortcuts, and to take regular breaks from typing. The design and integration of a foot-operated input device that interoperates with the software system is also presented. Forty-three undergraduate students completed a laboratory procedure that used a between-groups experimental design to evaluate the effectiveness of the system at persuading users to avoid typing at speeds that exceed a defined threshold as well as at persuading users to use predefined keyboard shortcuts (for example typing cpt as a shortcut for captain). Results indicated that providing users with feedback when they exceeded a typing speed threshold decreased the number of times they exceeded that threshold. Similarly, results indicated that providing users with feedback when they missed an opportunity to use a typing shortcut decreased the total number of shortcut usage opportunities missed.
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People’s daily lives have become increasingly sedentary, with extended periods of time being spent in front of a host of electronic screens for learning, work, and entertainment. We present research into the use of an adaptive persuasive technology, which introduces bursts of physical activity into a traditionally sedentary activity: computer game playing. Our game design approach leverages the playfulness and addictive nature of computer games to motivate players to engage in mild physical activity. The design allows players to gain virtual in-game rewards in return for performing real physical activity captured by sensory devices. This article presents a two-stage analysis of the activity-motivating game design approach applied to a prototype game. Initially, we detail the overall acceptance of active games discovered when trialing the technology with 135 young players. Results showed that players performed more activity without negatively affecting their perceived enjoyment of the playing experience. The analysis did discover, however, a lack of balance between the amounts of physical activity carried out by players with various gaming skills, which prompted a subsequent investigation into adaptive techniques for balancing the amount of physical activity performed by players. An evaluation of additional 90 players showed that adaptive techniques successfully overcame the gaming skills dependence and achieved more balanced activity levels. Overall, this work positions activity-motivating games as an approach that can potentially change the way players interact with computer games and lead to healthier lifestyles.