I took this class as I have been interested in behavior change for some time. I believe most people want to be a better version of themselves, and that often entails developing healthier habits. Eating more vegetables. Sleeping earlier. Waking up earlier. Exercising more. Talking to your loved ones more. And…going outside more, like what my group focused on this quarter. My interest in behavior change led me to take a class in behavior change last spring, taught by BJ Fogg. So, coming into this class I was already familiar with tiny habits and different types of prompts that lead to habits. But….did I actually do any habit changing? Not really – the only habit I managed to change was taking more pictures. And I was able to do that with the help of an app called LeapSecond that prompts me everyday at 5pm to take a 1 second video. I now have a ton of videos taken over the past year. Another great habit changing and maintaining tool I’ve used this quarter is my apple watch. I love closing the exercise circles. I thought – wow, I don’t really change my own habits by myself, but technology has really helped me. It would be great to develop something like these apps for another purpose! I had no idea that one approach to this included a baseline study or intervention study but I appreciated that this class pushed us to study a problem out in the wild before attempting to solve it.
In terms of my group’s studies, I wish we could have extracted more data from them because our participants didn’t really offer that much information – I guess our google forms were too long (~8-10 questions). And there were several tensions in the data we did get, for instance someone said they would go outside more if they had someone to go out with, but then they would probably flake as it would be too time consuming. I wish we could have studied more people, but this was almost impossible as we are students taking 4 classes and it’s hard having the capacity to study lots of people to draw enough statistically significant data. Another criticism about our project’s studies and assumption tests were that they were too similar to each other so in retrospect it felt like it was all one large long study, and I can’t recall learning anything super fascinating after a while. My team mates might disagree though. In the future, I’d like to pick different solutions first, make prototype experiences, and then test those…similar to CS147, except maybe we increase the time span as it takes a while to build a habit. Hopefully this would reveal something interesting. I think something that did surprise me was the constant balancing act between values. For instance, we want our users to use our app, of course. But we don’t want to manipulate our users, we don’t want to extrinsically motivate them to come to our app, heck we don’t really want them to engage with our app that much. But gameifying is fun. Engagement is fun. Engagement leads to some form of impact from the app. See what I mean? Ultimately, I’m fine with my team’s decision to make the app very simple such that it won’t become a source of frustration or strong focus in someone’s life. I would like to add more features though if we had time, such as a way to add prompts from users, or create communities within the app. I’d also like to add awards. And more personalization, yet consistency too. I want someone to come back to the app, at least for a specific amount of time, such that they can get the BJ Fogg BMAP experience. This being said, I’d like to continue investigating the effectiveness of our prompts / different types of prompts.
Something I appreciated about this class that I didn’t get to experience in my other classes thus far is journey mapping. I think it is a fantastic tool for conveying the use cases we are primarily designing for and our desired outcomes. I know I will be using these tools again in the future, along with personas, scenarios, and storyboards. They communicate a lot without that much time investment and can be used to get quick feedback.
Another thing I appreciated was the How Do Prototypes Prototype reading. The writing was so good. I have a better idea of what prototyping might mean to different audiences and different points in the process. Is a brick a prototype? Maybe! Depends on how it relates to the final artifact and what you’re trying to learn by using it.
I also enjoyed the ethical consideration discussions, I wish we could do a lot more of those in other classes. And get harder questions, or more case studies as to how companies and their safety officers handle things. Like, how do they think of their notifications? Are they acceptable or manipulative? We believe that the Paseo notifications are acceptable nudgers because the users have explicitly agreed to them and there is no harm being done since the Paseo app doesn’t really collect or share data from users, and it’s not designed to be addictive or sell anything. Ways in which we tried to respect our user’s privacy was: agreeing to erase any data that is un-needed, and giving users options for providing data where we could such as making logs optional and able to be private.
Thank you for a fantastic quarter, I am so happy we had so much freedom to explore behavior change, and given guidelines to think about what we shouldn’t do as well. Something I’m still mulling over is going viral ~ethically~ such that people don’t get depressed but get entertained. But that’s a conversation for social computing I think, haha.
See you, outside!