Psychology for your webapp

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Psychology for your webapp
How to change behavior and influence people.

A behavior change framework and toolkit.

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  • I'm a Python guy, a behavior change hobbyist. Please correct me.
    Evidence based. Email me for references.
    By “behavior” I mean everything you think I mean:
    - Choosing a specific model of mobile phone
    - Taking the bus to work
    - Driving at the speed limit
    - Donating to Wikipedia
  • Does what you see on TV, on billboards, in magazine, affect what you buy? Of course not, you're special like me!
    We need to recognize how bad we are at discerning the reasons for our actions, and rely on experiments and statistics.
  • Fields of research:
    Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology. Philosophy. Behavioral Economics, and some traditional economics.
  • Central is a feature of charitable orgs messaging and political campaigning.
    Peripheral is what advertising targets.
  • Information: Say what you want them to do. Give them good solid logical arguments. e.g. "Factory farming pork produces heavy nitratre run-off which pollutes our drinking water. Prefer lamb, chicken, or vegetarian options."
    Incentives: Fablistic.com (freelance project) went from ~100 fans on Facebook, to over ~5,000, by running a contest to win a $300 Target gift card. Not necessarily money: Adopt-a-highway schemes, incentive is free advertising.
    Commitments / Pledges: Ask someone to promise to adopt the behavior. "One million acts of green".
    Self-sell: Get them to role-play their way into the behavior. Design a logo / slogan competition. "Tell us in less than 100 words why we're awesome". Affiliate programs. Multi-level marketing.
    US POWs in Korean War were 'encouraged' to write essays denouncing America and celebrating Chinese communism.
    Foot-in-the-door: Start with a small request. Gradually ramp up. Frog soup.
  • Cognitive dissonance.
    Uncomfortable to hold two contradictory ideas in our mind at the same time. So we 'resolve' one of them.
    Smokers do this. They like smoking. They knowing smoking if very likely to give them lung cancer and shorten their life expectancy. To resolve it they can either quit smoking, or rationalise the smoking kills you side of the equation: "My grandpa smoked and lived till he was 98", or "I smoke low-tar", and so on.
    Your free project could do this. Show people their stats, how much they use the project. "You must really love xyz. Xyz will go away unless you and people like you support it financially"
    Loss aversion: We value things we have higher than things we don't, so losing something hurts more than gaining something pleases.
    Serial position effect. Put most important things first or last.
    Availability heuristic: The easier something is to recall and visualize, the more important / real we think it is. Wife's grandma. TV basketball. 50% black. 12%.
    Make sure your examples are vivid, easy to remember and easy to recall.
    A counter-intuitive way to use this is to ask people to generate arguments _against_ your position. When they struggle, they conclude there aren't any. Sleep Country's "Why buy from anywhere else?"
    To assist recall tell stories, use the features writing style: Human interest, widen out, re-incorporate.
    Contrast principle: Two different things presented together or sequentially will feel more different than they really are.
    No-one ever buys the most expensive wine on a restaurant menu. It's just there to make the other wines seem less expensive.
    Make sure you webapp has a very expensive plan, that isn't that much better than the plan you're actually trying to sell.
  • Fields of research: Social Psychology
  • We tend to over-value personality-based explanations for the observed behaviors of others while under-valuing situational explanations for those behaviors.
    Core principle of Social Psychology.
    First time I took the ferry to Vancouver Island, guy next to me parked right on the line, almost in my space. I though 'what a jerk' and started 'tut-tuting' in true British style. Then I noticed the car the other side of him had a disabled drive, and he was making space for the wheelchair. Turns out I was the jerk.
  • Obama's get out vote: “Record turnout expected”
    Make the social norm explicit.
    Role models, to model approved behavior. Community gardener / moderator.
    Harvard Alcohol Project’s National Designated Driver Campaign got designated drivers written into the scripts of 35 prime-time TV series during the 1989-90 season.
    Television writers agreed to insert drunk driving prevention messages, including frequent references to the use of designated drivers, into the scripts of top-rated shows such as “The Cosby Show,” “Cheers,” and “LA Law.”
    Short messages, embedded within dialogue, were casually presented by characters who served as role models within a dramatic context, thereby facilitating social learning
  • Top table: What people thought would change their behavior.
    Bottom table: Average energy consumption at end of experiment. Almost exact inverse of what people thought.
    Social norms are very powerful, and underdetected.
  • Communicator credibility: Aristotle's Ethos. The following are more credible than average: Experts, high-social status, people like me, attractive people (halo effect).
    Reciprocity. Hare Krishna London example. Give something away first.
    Door-in-the-face: We reciprocate to concessions. Start with too high a demand, and 'retreat' to your real demand.
    Measurement: People improve on what you measure. Game dynamics. Show the stats you care about.
  • Fields of research: Economics. Public policy. Behavioral Psychology.
    Sometimes called barriers to change.
    You want to take the bus to work (Personal), your peer-group all ride the bus (Social). But there's no bus stop anywhere near your house.
    You want to buy a ticket to BarCamp, all your friends are going, but the ticketing site is down. Or you can't find your credit card. Or they use Silverlight for the checkout process.
  • Self-efficacy: Do I know how to do this? How difficult is this behavior? How 'expensive' is it?
    You no doubt know an older family member who asks you to show them how to shop on Amazon. Or send an email. They have poor self-efficacy.
    On the web, this is mostly about usability and good copy-writing.
    Outcome control: How likely is it to succeed? When trying to win million on the lottery, I have very poor outcome control. That behavior (buying a ticket) is extremely unlikely to acheive your goal (riches).
    User interface should provide feedback.
  • Training, modelling, visualization: Show don't tell.
    Video on landing page.
    Prompts: Remembering to do it. Do you have re-usable shopping bags? Do you always remember to take them? A sticker by your front door, or inside the window of your car, could remind you.
    Most marketing materials serve as prompts: branded pens, notepads, coffee mugs, etc.
    Email from your webapp is a great prompt.
    Convenience. Your way is easier. Worked for 37 signals, Basecamp appealed to small businesses who wanted easier project management. Apple products have reputation for being easier to use.
    Cost. Your way is cheaper. They are more easily able to afford it.
  • Sea Shepherd and Whale Wars. The reduce the confidence that the whalers will get near their quota. They make whaling risker, the whalers have less control over the outcome.
    Sit-ins, strikes, sabotage.
    Trust: SSL, Better Business Bureau, etc, so that people believe that when they enter their credit card they will actually get their product. Testimonials. E-bay style reputation.
  • At UBC Psychology students get extra credit for participating in studies.
    Having said that, most of what I have presented is relatively well established, has been replicated many times.
    Still, do your testing.
  • Questions?
  • Psychology for your webapp

    1. 1. Psychology for your webapp How to change behavior and influence people Graham King <graham@gkgk.org> http://gkgk.org A behavior change framework and toolkit
    2. 2. Graham King - gkgk.org 2 Why a certain behavior? “Because I want to”→ Personal reasons “Isn't that what everyone else does?” “All my friends are going” → Social reasons “Because I can” “It's easy” → Environmental reasons
    3. 3. Graham King - gkgk.org 3 Three kinds of consideration Personal Social Environmental
    4. 4. Graham King - gkgk.org 4 Or as an onion Personal Social Environmental
    5. 5. Graham King - gkgk.org 5 Inspired by
    6. 6. Graham King - gkgk.org 6 We're all the exception
    7. 7. Graham King - gkgk.org 7 Personal: You on your own Personal Social Environmental
    8. 8. Graham King - gkgk.org 8 Central vs Peripheral processing Central: We think things through logically. Peripheral: We are too busy, too tired, or don't care enough to spend the mental energy. Rely on heuristics and hunches.
    9. 9. Graham King - gkgk.org 9 Tools: Personal and Central ●Information ●Incentives ●Commitments ●Self-sell ●Foot-in-the-door
    10. 10. Graham King - gkgk.org 10 Tools: Personal and Peripheral ●Cognitive dissonance ●Loss aversion ●Serial-position effect ●Availability heuristic ●Stories / Features style ●Contrast principle
    11. 11. Graham King - gkgk.org 11 Social: The people around you Personal Social Environmental
    12. 12. Graham King - gkgk.org 12
    13. 13. Graham King - gkgk.org 13 Tool: Social Proof In new or uncertain situation, we look to others to know how to behave. 4chan says “lurk moar”. Watching others tells us what normal behavior is. Harvard Alcohol Project's National Designated Driver Campaign.
    14. 14. Graham King - gkgk.org 14 Residential energy conservation
    15. 15. Graham King - gkgk.org 15 Other Tools: Social ●Communicator credibility ●Reciprocity ●Door-in-the-face / Bargaining ●Hawthorne Effect: Measurement
    16. 16. Graham King - gkgk.org 16 Environmental: Your world Personal Social Environmental
    17. 17. Graham King - gkgk.org 17 Self-efficacy and Outcome control Self-efficacy: Do I know how to do this? Is it cheap / easy? Outcome control: Will it work? Risk.
    18. 18. Graham King - gkgk.org 18 Tools: Environmental, Self-efficacy ●Training, modeling, visualization ●Prompts ●Convenience ●Cost
    19. 19. Graham King - gkgk.org 19 Tools: Environmental, outcome control ●Sea Shepherd ●Trust
    20. 20. Graham King - gkgk.org 20 A caveat: Test it Much psychology research is done on first-year psychology students. Unless your customers are first-year psychology students, do your A/B testing.
    21. 21. Graham King - gkgk.org 21 In summary Personal You Central Peripheral Social Your peer group Environmental Your world Self-efficacy Outcome control

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