I loved so many things about this class – where do I start? Being a psychology minor, I loved that in the first few weeks of class we drew a bunch of knowledge from psychology to understand behavior change. Both from class and psychology papers I have read, I learned about different behavior change models and techniques such as Fogg Behavior Model (B = MAP), COM-B model, Goal Setting Theory, Dual Process Theory, “smallifications” and anchors. One of my favorite parts of the course was working with my team in and outside of class on different types of maps and systems: persona, journey maps, storyboards, connectivity circles, bubble maps, system path diagrams, and assumption maps. I really learned a lot from the approach of being given an overview of those maps and systems in class, and then having to figure out by ourselves the details and how to apply them in our project. I also liked how we were given a bunch of methods and tools we could use for an assignment, and it was up to decide which ones were best for our project. Some of the tools which I will definitely use in future projects are assumption maps (I found it so useful to find assumptions that I hadn’t even thought about), system path diagrams (I found it so helpful to map out and visualize the whole app on a whiteboard!) and brand personality worksheets (it really helps to figure out the brand of our app, which then helps with mood boards, style tiles, vocabulary used in the app, etc). Another tool I discovered and found great value in was Balsamiq. It was very fast and easy to create the sketchy screens, which were also at the right level of fidelity for the type of feedback that we needed at that time. Furthermore, I loved the pre-mortem exercise we did in class, and already used it on one of my own side projects. Another thing that I thoroughly enjoyed was the class we had on drawing stick figures. I noticed how it helped me improve on my sketchnotes and I even started doing sketchnotes for other classes because of that!
Caption: one of the tools (2 x 2 matrix) that helped us tremendously frame our approach in the brainstorming stages
I genuinely enjoyed the ethics readings and doing the discussions with other classmates as I felt everyone had something unique to contribute based on their background. However, I wished the ethics discussions were more closely tied to our project. I would have learned a lot from trying to apply ideas from the ethics discussions and readings to our project, if maybe say that was a project work assignment due week 8 or 9. On a different note, I wished I learned more about style styles and mood boards, and how to pick one the best one related to our topic. Is there a more formal or systematic way of picking one? I perhaps also wished we had time for a brief, final intervention study after usability testing. It would have provided valuable insights into the question: “did you succeed in changing behavior?”. I am personally very curious about how close we were in encouraging creativity with our app, and wish to better understand what we could have done differently to tackle the same problem in the future. However, one thing I wished we did differently was focusing on a narrower topic at the beginning. If say we focused on people who want to draw more, our interventions could have been more specific and helpful, and our app would probably be more adapted for this focus group too. I would also have spent more time on using anchors in our app. I tried to suggest some ideas for anchors a couple of times (e.g. using location data, calendars) but we ended up moving away from them towards more “safe” ideas because of privacy concerns. If we spent some time working out the privacy concerns, I really believe anchors could have been the unique, discriminating factor of our app.
In 10 years, one thing that I will definitely remember from this course is that “behavior change is hard”. At the beginning of class, after my team chose the topic of encouraging creativity, we thought that we had it. As the quarter went on and we did interventions and brainstormed different solutions, we realized that it is actually pretty hard to work on changing people’s behavior. We would perhaps need a two-quarter class for that! This insight would certainly help me in future projects regarding behavior change. I will also certainly remember my team (Juliette, Josh, Antonio, Olivia) 10 years from now. It is one of the rare times that the team dynamics worked so well for a class project, and I learned so much from my project partners through discussions and activities either related or not related to the project. We had so much fun working together (and giving meme-heavy presentations)!
Concerning the ethics readings, a lot of them left an impact on me. In the past I have read books like “Nudge” and “The Psychology of Persuasion”, but I never thought about it in an ethical lens. It made me really think about whether using cognitive biases and heuristics like anchoring, framing, loss aversion and availability heuristic to drive people to make certain decisions are actually forms of manipulation. When and where are they acceptable to use? I also found the reading about “soft forms of resistance” very valuable since I intend to work in the tech industry after graduation and I want to be able to incorporate ethical values in the products I will work on. I would say that the privacy readings were the ones that I thought about the most with regards to the project. I (and my teammates) put a lot of thought into who should be able to view the responses to prompts, feedback, stories, gallery, followers / following, and profile information. While working on the settings page, I made sure that those privacy settings were as customizable as possible, giving control to the users over their own privacy. Our team also made sure to be data minimalist, and not collect any data about the user that is sensitive and that we do not need.
Before this class, I thought that some people are more creative than others. Now I think that everyone can be creative in their own ways through different outlets. During intervention studies, I was amazed to see creativity in so many different forms: creative playlists, creative slides, creative photography, etc. I also used to think that creativity means work, but now I see it as fun and a good break from work. People do enjoy creative breaks a lot!
Overall, I believe that I gained so many new design, ethics and behavior change skills and knowledge from taking this class. I really want to thank Christina and Medha for your hard work in putting this class together, and making it a rich experience!