Captology and Credibility
Current Issues in Web Technology
Captology is a topic that is hugely informed by previous
concepts discussed during the module.
The most important differentiating factor is „to what end are the
Especially the psychological aspects of all the various topics.
For Captology, we are looking to bring about positive changes in
behaviour through the use of technology.
It‟s easier to do this badly than it is to do it well.
As with many of the things we‟ve discussed over the past couple of
Mistakes in Behaviour Change
Fogg and others put together „10 Mistakes in Behaviour
These are „anti patterns‟ that should be avoided.
They focus on giving „too much credence‟ to old folk-wisdom
„You need to exercise your willpower‟
„You just need to control yourself‟
„You just need to make an effort‟
For reasons we‟ve spoken about before (our minds are exertion
averse for example) these are unhelpful suggestions.
Mistakes in Behaviour Change
Relying on willpower for long-term change.
Attempting big leaps instead of baby steps.
„Change your context and change your life‟
Trying to stop old behaviours instead of creating new ones.
„Seek tiny successes – one after another‟
Ignoring how environment shapes behaviours.
„Imagine willpower doesn‟t exist. That‟s step 1 to a better future‟
„Focus on action, not avoidance‟
Blaming failures on a lack of motivation.
„Solution: Make the behaviour easier to do‟
Mistakes in Behaviour Change
Underestimating the power of triggers.
Believing that information leads to action.
„Abstract: Get in shape. Concrete: Walk 15 min today‟
Seeking to change a behaviour forever, not for a short time.
„We humans aren‟t so rational‟
Focusing on abstract goals more than concrete behaviours.
„No behaviour happens without a trigger‟
„A fixed period works better than “forever”‟
Assuming that behaviour change is difficult.
„Behaviour change is not so hard when you have the right process‟
Captology acknowledges a basic truth about cost and benefit.
By aligning available information with useful triggers,
captological devices can enact small changes.
It‟s not about evoking some mystical change in a person, it‟s about
realigning those two key elements.
Small changes on a regular basis.
„You can‟t fight city hall‟, and city hall is human nature.
At best, you can try to even the odds a bit.
Types of Persuasion
Reduction – Persuading through simplifying.
Tunneling – guiding actions through persuasion
Tailoring – Persuasion through customised options
Suggestions – intervening at the ritht time.
Self-monitoring – making it easier for people to monitor their
Surveillance – allowing technology to track our behaviour
through sensors and tools.
Conditioning – reinforcing the right kinds of behaviours.
Before technology can be persuasive, it must be credible.
Credibility itself is based on two factors.
We are unlikely to be swayed by technology which we consider to be dubious.
The degree to which technology is honest with us.
Truthfulness, lack of bias, honesty
The degree to which the people presenting the technology are perceived to be
Experience, intelligence, knowledge, power, authority
These two factors lead to perceived credibility.
This must be high to get the best impact.
Importantly, both must be present.
Credibility is enhanced by real world feel.
Credibility is enhanced by professionalism of appearance.
You can‟t judge a book by its cover, but many people do anyway.
Credibility is enhanced by verifiability.
We trust technology more when we can see the people or
organizations behind the technology.
If you make a claim, support it.
Credibility is enhanced by „organisational association‟
Show that there are real organisations behind what you do.
A simple physical address can help this.
Credibility is important because of two main elements.
It serves to help change user attitudes.
Positive thoughts about the technology.
Enhances the self of comfort that individuals have engaging with
Makes it more likely individuals will embrace the fundamental
assumptions of a piece of technology.
It‟s also vital for increasing compliance with necessary
Creating long term engagement
Highlight biographies of contributors.
If you have experts or authorities in the team, make sure everyone
Show the human face of interaction.
Let people know there are real people behind the technology.
Make it easy for people to get in touch.
Conversely, make sure it‟s real expertise or authority.
If you‟re inaccessible, people will wonder why.
Make the technology easy to use, and useful.
Manage your cost/benefit ratio
Make sure people can see regular signs of updates or reviews.
Technology that „looks‟ abandoned will „feel‟ abandoned.
Be wary of „quick cash in‟ options.
Such as ads or pop-ups.
People may wonder why you‟re trying to hit them up for extra
Avoid errors in your presentation.
No matter how small. Even typos have a huge negative impact on
Most Important Elements
Credibility Examples - High
The prominence of elements is important, as is the instant
value judgement a person makes.
Prominence is modified by amount of attention being paid, your
presentation, the content and the way it‟s presented.
That which is highly prominent and interpreted harshly is going to
have high impact on general credibility.
That which is not prominent but interpreted well is going to have a
low impact on general credibility.
Google ads for example are highly prominent but most people
simply filter them out.
Value judgements are modified by assumptions, culture,
expertise and experience.
Types of credibility:
Based on assumptions
Based on recommendations of a third party
What we decided based on a simple reading of the most prominent
elements of the technology.
Credibility based on previous interactions with a piece of technology.
All are important in creating a good impression of technology.
And thus, on providing hooks for captological influence.
The last thing to be discussed about captology is ethics.
Persuasion when applied well and responsibly can bring about
considerably positive beneficial impact.
Like most of the things we‟ve discussed over the module, there is a
dark side to all of this.
But what right does any developer have to influence people in this
Consider the example of the „nudge‟ from last week.
One area seems to be unambigiously okay – when people optin to captology.
„I need to change my behaviour, I wonder if there‟s a tool to help me
Technology does not have to be complicated to be persuasive.
Motivation – I want to stop eating so much.
Ability – I can choose not to eat.
Trigger – The oink reminds me of my motivation.
This means that many devices exist to persuade us in one form
To what extent is this „okay‟?
What about when well meaning people persuade people to
make decisions that will be better for then?
Providing persuasive devices to help with exercise? Alcohol
abuse? Drug abuse?
Providing persuasive toys to help children learn important life
Keep your room tidy
Share with others
Technologists like yourself?
When deception is involved, we clearly move into unethical
But many cognitive biases rely on deception.
These biases work most of the time, it‟s just that when tickled in the
wrong kind of way in the wrong kind of context…
Is it unethical to use the foot in the door technique?
What impact does it have on credibility if your target is aware of the
Is framing something in a positive way unethical?
Is anchoring unethical?
Can we persuade at all without some means of deception?
Next week, we don‟t have a lecture.
Instead, we start doing your powerpoint presentations.
Shhh, stop cheering.
Yeah, that stopped you cheering.
We‟ll do these over two weeks.
It‟s not really logistically possible to do them in the last week.
The presentations take the form of a five minute talk (from you)
and then five minutes of questions (from us).
Questions may not specifically be about your presentation.
They may be about how your presentation related to the wider topic.
There will be four slots during the two weeks, each containing 6
Allocated on a first come first serve basis.
The slots are: Week 1, 9am, Week 1, 10am, Week 2, 9am,
Week 2, 10am
During your slot, you‟ll be asked to stand up and give your talk
to everyone in the class.
I know, we all hate presentations. Channel that hate into
I‟ll be keeping an eye on the clock.
There is no class exercise for this week.
But, I do need people to indicate the slots they want to take.
Remember, first come first served.
I want to do the absolute minimum amount of work to arrange
Work on your presentations instead.
So, I will pass around a sheet – if your preferred slot is
overbooked by the time it gets to you, you can arrange a swap
with someone else.
Captology is the academic field dedicated to creating
Credibility is hugely important in developing credible devices.
There are many important things that come into building
If we don‟t find devices credible, we can‟t be persuaded by them.
Some are more important than others.
As with all our topics, there are ethical dilemmas in the
application of captology.