7 Points on Ethics and Persuasive Technology

August 17th, 2017

When journalists and others talk about our work, they sometimes conveniently overlook these facts:

1. Soon after starting the Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab, BJ Fogg began teaching about the ethics of persuasive technology, both at university and in industry (1997).

2. BJ Fogg published the first peer-reviewed paper to address the ethics of persuasive tech. This paper was required reading for Fogg’s students and lab members. See page 229 http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

3. BJ Fogg and his lab members were the first to organize a panel at a major conference to address the ethical issues of persuasive tech (1999): http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=632716.632772

4. BJ Fogg commissioned his lab members to write an article on the ethics of persuasive tech in 1999, which was part of a special issue of ACM that he guest edited. See this issue here: https://cacm.acm.org/magazines/1999/5

5. BJ Fogg was the first to write a book chapter (2003) about the ethics of persuasive tech, highlighting some great work by his students. See chapter 9 in his book Persuasive Technology. Start with page 213 here: 

6. The Persuasive Tech Lab organized the first-ever conference about the ethics of persuasive tech (half-day event at Stanford).

7. With help from his students, BJ Fogg created a video in 2006 to warn the FTC (and others) about problematic areas related to persuasive technology. See the video here: https://vimeo.com/117427520

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Slides – Mobile Health 2012 Conference

December 17th, 2012

In May 2012, the Persuasive Tech Lab hosted Mobile Health 2012: Baby Steps for Big Change. We took a slightly different angle in 2012. Why? Because this method — rapid baby steps — leads to success in three areas: behavior change, collaborations, and experience design. We realize that “baby steps” is an odd focus for an entire event. But we thought it was absolutely the right focus for 2012. The chronic problems in behavior change, collaborations, and product development have a common solution for innovators in Mobile health — and that solution is baby steps.

Presenter slides from the conference can be seen by visiting each presenter’s page.

You can view the schedule and session topics here.

Videos from day 1 are here.

Videos from day 2 are here.


Slides – Mobile Health 2011 Conference

December 17th, 2012

Presenter Slides from Mobile Health 2011

In 2011, the Persuasive Tech Lab and CDC hosted Mobile Health 2011: What Really Works at Stanford University. With this event we brought together 400 people from grass roots and national health organizations, academics and mobile vendors for insights and sharing best practices.

Presenter slides from the conference can be seen by visiting each presenter’s page.

You can view the program and session topics here.


November 2nd, 2011

Persuasive Technology – Chapter 8

Persuasive Technology – Appendix


September 9th, 2011

Behavior Design

December 20th, 2010

Behavior DesignThe best design solutions today change human behavior. Yet despite decades of research, challenges remain for people who design to influence.

First, “persuasion” seems a dirty word. It shouldn’t be. We should now embrace that we’re in the business of behavior change. Next problem: conceptual confusion. The landscape of persuasion can be disorienting, muddied by impractical theories and over-hyped techniques. Our new work provides a clear view of behavior change, including language that is simple yet accurate.

Behavior change is a step-by-step process. This explains why one-shot solutions rarely achieve outcomes that matter most. To help designers and researchers succeed more often, my Stanford lab has created the “Behavior Wizard,” which maps routes to the 15 ways behavior can change.

What Matters in Behavior Design

1. We humans are lazy. BJ Fogg has mapped out the six elements of simplicity that account for this reality. With this new insight, we can pinpoint why many designs fail to achieve results. Simplicity matters more than motivation when it comes to influencing people.

2. Hot triggers change people. Many people would argue that information matters most when designing for behavior change. Not so. Hot triggers are the most powerful element in changing behavior.

3. Daily habits are powerful. In fact, daily habits are the most powerful of all behaviors. While technology can help people create good habits most attempts fail. Why? Few designers understand the psychology of long-term behavior change. We know what it takes to create a habit – in yourself, a customer, your dog.

Designing for behavior change via social and mobile tech is new, with no leading books or conferences to provide guidance. Our goal is to explain human nature clearly and map those insights onto the emerging opportunities in technology.

Behavior Design Project Team

The following people have contributed their time and energy to this project.

Video: The Power of Comments on Facebook

December 9th, 2010

Psychology of Facebook: the Power of Commenting

BJ Fogg discusses the “secret sauce” of social media and Facebook in particular: commenting.

Article: New Rules of Persuasion

December 7th, 2010

This article written for the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) summarizes how to design for persuasion using today’s tools.

The world of persuasion has changed rapidly over the past 10 years. If you haven’t noticed the shift, now is the time to recognize how technology opens doors across all sectors – to engage new customers, influence people’s attitudes, and, most interesting of all, change their behaviors.

Read the article here.