Using Interaction Design to Change Behavior

31 Mar 2009 - 2:24pm
5 years ago
7 replies
1726 reads
David B. Rondeau
2003

Joshua Porter recently had a very interesting post on his blog about
using design to "change, guide, support, elicit, constrict, and
control behavior".
http://bokardo.com/archives/demystifying-interaction-design/

It got me to thinking about *how* interaction design *is being used*
to change behavior. The first example that came to mind was the Wii
Fit. http://www.nintendo.com/wiifit

I recently got a Wii Fit. It's a clever, mildly cajoling device that
shows you how to do yoga, strength, and aerobic exercises, as well as
play balance games. A virtual trainer shows you how to do the
exercise and then you can follow their movements while you do the
exercise. You stand on the Wii Balance Board to do most of the
exercise—which provides direct feedback on how well you are doing
them. It encourages you to do a Body Test every day, which measures
your weight, BMI, and Wii Fit Age. You can then track your progress
in these areas over time and even set a weight goal for yourself.
Nintendo is combining audio, video, physical motion, game play,
rewards, feedback, tracking, and encouragement to make exercise
*enticing*. All of this is made possible by the interaction design of
the Wii remote, the "game" software, and the hardware device. I
would even argue that the interaction design itself is crucial to
making it feel *enticing*.

(You can read more about the Wii Fit and how it was created at
http://us.wii.com/wii-fit/iwata_asks/vol1_page1.jsp)

*But what about behavior?*
I don't need to lose weight, but my "good" cholesterol is a little
low and my doctor keeps telling me to exercise regularly—in fact
she's been telling me this for 4 or 5 years. I just haven't been
able to find the time or even an activity that would compel me to
exercise regularly. I usually worry about it for about 2 weeks and
then don't think about it until I see the doctor again. But since I
have started using the Wii Fit, I find myself actually thinking about
exercising and trying to make time to do it. I can't say how long it
will have this affect, but so far it is *definitely* changing my
behavior.

How do you see interaction design affecting behavior *now*?

In what ways do you think we should be using interaction design to
change behavior in the *future*?

Can we use it to help people adopt "green" behavior and practices?
What about making people behave in ways that are more considerate,
courteous, and polite? Or even to behave in a way that is more
community focused and less individualistic?

David B. Rondeau
Design Chair
InContext Design (http://www.incontextdesign.com)

Twitter: dbrondeau

Comments

31 Mar 2009 - 3:47pm
ELISABETH HUBERT
2007

Wow this is an awesome post. I think you pose some very interesting
questions. It would seem that if we can design interactions that
change peoples behaviors from hiring a camera man to taking our own
photos at home, or from only being on the internet while i'm near a
computer to using the internet wherever we should be able to then
accomplish the tasks you mention. i guess the really fun part is
figuring out how.

We know that some mobile phone companies are taking the time to
create devices that don't "expire" as quickly or are creating
universal chargers etc. Will this make us more "green" or does it
force us to be so? does this force equal the goal?

Great post!

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31 Mar 2009 - 7:11pm
Robert Reimann
2003

Excellent post, David!

Folks unfamiliar with PopTech's Project Masiluleke should check it out:

http://www.poptech.org/project_m/

frog design (led in this effort by Robert Fabricant), and frog's parent
company Aricent, were both
partners in this effort, along with many others.

It's a great example how well targeted interaction design and technology can
directly improve
human situations by positively affecting people's behaviors.

Robert.

Robert Reimann
IxDA Seattle

Associate Creative Director
frog design
Seattle, WA

On Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 6:47 AM, ELISABETH HUBERT <ehubert22 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Wow this is an awesome post. I think you pose some very interesting
> questions. It would seem that if we can design interactions that
> change peoples behaviors from hiring a camera man to taking our own
> photos at home, or from only being on the internet while i'm near a
> computer to using the internet wherever we should be able to then
> accomplish the tasks you mention. i guess the really fun part is
> figuring out how.
>
> We know that some mobile phone companies are taking the time to
> create devices that don't "expire" as quickly or are creating
> universal chargers etc. Will this make us more "green" or does it
> force us to be so? does this force equal the goal?
>
> Great post!
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=40847
>
>
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1 Apr 2009 - 4:24am
Joshua Porter
2007

@David, thanks for this post. Your Wii Fit example is an excellent
one, and I think the questions you raise are spot on.

I do think that designers have the capability to change behavior for
the good. My post was about changing behavior as one of the outcomes
of good design, but I didn't make any claims on what type of
behavior I was talking about. That's where ethics come into
play...design can be used for good and evil purposes.

Project Masiluleke is another great example, and coincidentally I'm
working with PopTech as well, (as a blogger) to write about an
emerging field called "personal informatics", which closely aligns
with the Wii Fit...its the idea that by creating tools and interfaces
with which we can monitor ourselves and such things as our carbon
footprint, we can become more aware of our impact and hopefully
change it for the better.

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1 Apr 2009 - 7:55am
gfrances@iconta...
2008

David,

How do you feel your experience with the wii Fit is different than, say, someone's experience using a dvd? Is it the interaction design that motivates you, the message, or both? I would argue that the list of benefits you identify - "audio, video, physical motion, game play, rewards, feedback, tracking, and encouragement to make exercise enticing" - are derived from fitness dvds also.

In a nutshell, I'm curious to hear a little more because I'm not yet seeing anything that differentiates the wii experience from other options.

- Gary

1 Apr 2009 - 9:29am
David B. Rondeau
2003

Gary,

The biggest difference with the Wii Fit is that it "knows" what I
am doing. It tells me *how well* I am doing the exercise and gives me
a point score each time I do it. Since most of the exercises are done
on the Balance Board, you can see your balance *while* you are doing
the exercise and it shows you a quick summary after you finish the
exercise. This "scoring" allows you to compete against yourself or
others in your family, much like a typical video game.

The Wii Fit software is also tracking *when* you are using it, so it
can then gently remind you that it has been 5 days since you last
used it or congratulate you when it sees you are doing it every day.
It even lets you know that it has been a while since it has seen
other members of your family%u2014if they haven't been doing it
regularly.

This is very different from a fitness DVD, which isn't really
interactive. It can't tell me how well I'm doing or know how often
I am using it, and so can't really personalize itself to *my*
exercise experience. It's through this personalized experience that
the Wii Fit is able to better motivate me and change my behavior.

And if I get tired of exercises, I can just play games, which are
still exercise.

David B. Rondeau
Design Chair
InContext Design (http://www.incontextdesign.com)

Twitter: dbrondeau

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1 Apr 2009 - 9:33am
Chris Heckler
2007

I think some of the fun ways we're using interaction design to affect
behavior now is in our personal life and productivity.

The WiiFit example is great because it takes something we don't
necessary like to do and makes it into a game. I disagree that a dvd
will give you feedback and game play in the way a game will and that
makes a big difference in incentive for many people. Jane McGonigal
has some great research in that direction.

Another example I saw recently that made me laugh but also think,
"About time!", is a self control application for Mac that lets you
block the forces of distraction for a set time period.

http://visitsteve.com/work/selfcontrol/

I love the idea that we can use interaction design to make things
that we are bad at (remembering to pay bills, not answering email
when we need to be working on something else) or don't like
(exercise) and make it easier and more fun. I'll have to check out
personal informatics to see how those tools work.

I'm also interested in the examples like Project Masiluleke that
affect change to larger populations. I'm not used to thinking on
that big of a scale, but the potential of focusing design attention
toward solving human problems by making it easier and more desirable
to change behavior is amazing.

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1 Apr 2009 - 12:41pm
David B. Rondeau
2003

Another interesting way to think about behavior change is to consider
changes that *do not require software design*. What if we took some
of the ideas from the "Some of the non-software things that
interaction designers do" thread?
http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=40619

Some will argue that interaction design is only about designing
technology related things, but I disagree. I strongly believe that
you could use a process like Contextual Design to design *life
practices*. (Disclosure: I work for InContext Design. If you want to
know more about the process go to
http://www.incontextdesign.com/cd/methodology.html)
By that, I mean activities that people do in the context of
life%u2014not work%u2014that don't rely on technology or software,
but still provide value by helping to support or change behavior.

One example of this, that I often think about is *recycling*. Why is
it so hard for people to recycle? Why don't we recycle more? What
gets in the way of us recycling? How can we increase the number of
people who recycle and the amount that gets recycled?

I can imagine solutions to this problem that have nothing to do with
technology: designing better print materials to help people identify
what can be recycled, creating outreach programs to explain the
benefits of recycling, designing better recycling bins that make it
easier to sort recyclables and get them out to the curb, and
designing all of this in a way that understands people's motivations
and how to effectively change people's behaviors. (I'm not going to
get into all the other aspects of recycling that would also need to
be addressed, like: manufacturing, packaging, or creating a market
for recycled materials.)

If we don't think about the *whole life practice* and design the
*whole experience*, then it is going to be very difficult to achieve
the goal of more recycling. This is where user-centered design and
interaction design can have a huge impact. By understanding human
behavior and people's actual life practices, we can design services
and products that *fit into our lives* and help us change for the
better.

David B. Rondeau
Design Chair
InContext Design (http://www.incontextdesign.com)

Twitter: dbrondeau

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