on August 24, 2003
Dr. Fogg makes several critical points that are essential to improving the US healthcare system, particularly in the area of preventative disease:
* Computers offer an advantage over traditional persuasive media because they are interactive.
* As a tool, computers can be persuasive by making target behavior easier to do.
* Leading a user through a process aids in persuasion.
* Persuasive technologies often perform calculations or measurements that motivate.
* As a medium, a computer will be persuasive if it allows users to explore cause-and-effect relationships.
* Computing technologies that help people rehearse a behavior can be persuasive.
* Persuasive technologies can provide users with vicarious experiences that motivate them to change their behavior.
* By rewarding people with positive feedback, computers act as persuaders.
* Persuasive technologies often model a target behavior or attitude.
* Computers that create a relationship with the user and provide social support are effective persuaders.
on January 13, 2003
Although much has been made of the secondary effects of technology--such as how "Email makes everyone a writer"--Fogg's book is the first that I am aware of to explicitly look at how computers themselves can be used as agents to change how people behave and think. As such, Fogg breaks a lot of new ground, giving a theoretical framework and practical advice for understanding how computers and the world-wide web work as persuasive media. Fogg wisely defines computers broadly: essentially, any interactive technology is a computing device, from the common desktop computer to a heart-rate monitor that gives feedback and analysis to the wearer.
Of particular note: Chapter 7 deals with what makes a web-site believable, and should be required reading for any web designer or content developer who wants surfers to change an action or belief based on their site, whether that action is as simple as returning to that site again and again or as complicated as stopping smoking. This chapter alone will be worth having the entire book on your shelf.
Another insight Fogg makes that struck me is how computers differ from traditional media in their ability to persuade: computers can adapt (within their programming of course) the message, its frequency and many other variables based on the response of the user. Television and print can't do that. This ability gives computers great power to persuade, closer in some ways to a human adapting a speech based on crowd response. Of course, computers have many advantages as persuasive agents that humans do not, such as the ability to provide anonymity and simulation of events. Persuasive Technology is filled with similar insights.
This is a very accessible book. Easy to skim when it deals with something less relevant to you. (Fogg's background in information design shows to great benefit.)
All in all worth the read.
on January 20, 2003
It's 2003 and the initial excitement, innovation and greed that fueled the technology boom of the late 90s have all but disappeared. Yet left in their tracks are the tangible building blocks of an industry destined to continue changing commerce, education and social activism in profound and irreversible ways.
For a fresh perspective on the forces shaping next-phase software and Web development, look no further than "Persuasive Technology" by Dr. B.J. Fogg, director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University. Surely, academic research may fail to generate the enthusiasm of erstwhile launch parties and public offerings, but Dr. Fogg's work offers a purposeful key to helping us understand, and thereby design, more effective and sustainable (read: revenue-generating) interactive technologies.
Proposing a new analytical model called "captology", short for "computers as persuasive technologies", Dr. Fogg is the first to address the increasingly important role of computers in actuating attitudinal and behavioral change - in other words, the ability to persuade users to take a particular action: to buy more, play more, lose weight, quit smoking, register to win, etc. For technology researchers accustom to the tenets of Usability - essentially the evaluation of functionality and "likability" - captology goes a significant step further, addressing the extent to which an interactive device (be it a website or mobile phone) succeeds in changing users' attitudes and behaviors. The importance of this research is unquestionable, if you can imagine (or personally relate to) an online marketer anxious to sell more goods, or a smoker who turns to a motivational website to help him/her quit. It is no longer enough for a website or software tool to be "user friendly"; its intended objective - as a tool of persuasion - must be achieved.
Through the study of captology, designers have a new framework for building products, services and promotions that succeed in generating the results they seek. What could be more timely and constructive in this period when all sectors - commercial, educational, social/civic and more - are straining to yield measurable, bottom-line results from their technology investments?
Thank you, Dr. Fogg, for the fresh and purposeful approach. Your timing couldn't be better!
M.A. Communications, Annenberg School for Communication. University of Pennsylvania
Principal, Media-Screen Consulting
on April 9, 2007
Persuasive Technology is a must read for any technology or public health professional attempting to build a framework for using technology to influence behavior change, particularly for someone attempting to build one for the first time.
B.J. Fogg shares his experience in an easy to understand writing style that is both interesting and practical. He demonstrates the potential for using persuasive technologies while also providing a framework that helps bring order to this vast and rapidly changing subject area.
An experienced telecommunications product development professional and MPH candidate, I have recently been researching the options and considerations for applying technology to Public Health; this book provided immediate context and perspective on the environment, undoubtedly saving me much time and effort.
Given my bias as a product development professional, an unexpected but pleasant surprise was the series of principles defined throughout and substantiated by specific research or commercial examples (also summarized in the appendix for easy reference). By synthesizing his conclusions through these principles, Fogg shares his experience in a practical manner that makes it easy to integrate his insights into the development process, to help profile strategies, screen concepts, and stimulate ideas. I expect most of these principles will hold true, regardless how technology and applications evolve.
Hopefully we will see more on the subject from BJ Fogg and his Persuasive Technology lab; more observations on the use of mobile applications would be of particular interest to this reader.
on April 28, 2003
"Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do" by B.J. Fogg puts to rest the old adage about ivory tower academics obsessing over trivia. The research studies reported in this book demonstrate the power and practicality of scholarly methods when applied to real world issues. Moreover, Fogg's methodology and findings are presented in highly accessible language that can be understood by anyone from high school students on up.
But the remarkable comprehensibility of this work should not be taken for a lack of substance. Make no mistake, there are many deep ideas herein and the ethics of using computers to influence behavior are given the same insightful treatment as the applied techniques surveyed throughout.
Yet beyond the specific findings of the studies reported on its pages (which will eventually be extended or superceded), Persuasive Technology offers a truly rich framework that defines the shape of an entirely new discipline. As such it will stand the test of time and serve as a guide to generations of scholars, designers, and developers in the years ahead.
This book should be required reading for anyone contemplating a high tech startup venture, developing a web presence for his or her organization, or studying such topics as Communications, Information Science, Marketing, and Computer Science.
on July 13, 2008
Dr. Fogg has done a great job of creating an introductory work for Captology. The book is well written and well cited. It's rare to see a technology book that has research cited to back its claims. Often times claims are made based on experience without any real claim to validity. Dr Fogg's writing is more academic and in that sense refreshing. Although, it would certainly be nice to see both aspects, experience and reproducible controlled tests, in a single book.
If you are well versed in both psychology and technology, this book will not enlighten you, but it does provide a great foundation for future research. If you work in user experience, marketing, or any performance based technology field, you can definitely benefit from the material in this book. I take this to be Captology 101 and I would definitely love to see some upper division material coming down the pipeline.
My key take aways are:
- Understanding the basics of Captology
- Getting a well researched foundation for future, real world testing
- Having an accurate psychological lexicon
There is some actionable information scattered throughout the book. For example, in chapter 5, Computers as Persuasive Social Actors, Fogg relates a study he performed that showed changing the error messages on a piece of technology made it "rated...more favorably" and "users reported that [it] gave better information, was more accurate, and was more knowledgeable." This is good research to have if you're a user experience designer especially if you have to justify your work to non-believers. However, this book is not meant to be full of actionable items, so don't expect that of it.
I recommend this book for an academic overview. If you'd like real world examples try Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results, but don't expect to learn why the real world examples work other than a surface level explanation. Though reading both books will give you a pretty good understanding of persuasive technology.
on September 14, 2003
An excellent introduction to CAPTology, the study of Computers As Persuasive Technologies. Fogg takes us through the core principles (42 in all) of using computers as persuasive agents, and the research he and others have done which underpins those principles. In the process he provides a fascinating look at cutting-edge and potential future applications of computer and mobile technologies (such as location-linked reminder systems) that could enhance our lives. However, he does not dismiss the darker uses of the technology and the very real ethical issues it raises. Towards the end of the book, he argues that studying computer-human persuasion can provide new insights into human-human persuasion, and the crossover in many of the principles discussed is readily apparent. I took away from this book a new awareness of how systems used in my organisation could be enhanced to make things better for our customers, as well as a deeper understanding of persuasion in general. I would also recommend "The Media Equation", which discusses some of the same issues as well as similar issues related to television.
on January 12, 2003
Through my professional interactions in the Silicon Valley, I'd heard of BJ Fogg's Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford, but had always immediately associated negative or unethical implications with the term "persuasive technology." This book opened my eyes in a delightful way to the positive current and future applications of this science. For anyone who interacts with computer technology, whether from a design perspective or as a user, this book provides a thorough understanding of how interactive computing systems can change our attitudes and behaviors.
Although based in research and academia, the book is not overly academic, but takes advantage of a somewhat textbook style of organization to make the concepts clear and easy to grasp. Illustrations, references, highlighted definitions, and bulleted summaries reinforce the concepts or give a quick shorthand depending on how you prefer to read the book. Fogg peppers the text with excellent real-world and hypothetical examples. I found the hypothetical examples most intriguing and suspect (or at least hope) that we'll see many of them become reality in the not too distant future.
As a marketer not unfamiliar with the concept of persuasion, I found the chapter on Web Credibility in particular a valuable source of guidance on how to better design web sites and build trust into the experience. As a consumer, I was fascinated by the possibilities for persuasive mobile technologies - especially the idea that the most successful motivating mobile technologies will be those that best serve the personal goals of the user, rather than intrude into our lives and betray the trust we will eventually need to place in them.
In writing this book, clearly Fogg was not only attempting to educate us about this new field of study, but also to persuade us that the future of interactive computing technology can have some very positive outcomes if we understand and respect the humans on both ends of the equation. I believe he succeeded.
on May 9, 2003
If you've ever wondered how technology is subtly and shaping how we think and work, this is the book for you. Years of scholarly research at Stanford has allowed BJ Fogg to use the foundations of rhetoric to show how web and other 21st century techologies affect how we make choices, sometimes subconsciously, and can be used to shape quite deliberately our expectations about the choices we make. Probably too much of an overview for the engineer, IT, psychology or advertising professional, the book is nonetheless a very thorough treatment of the subject for any of them, and for the general reader, with lots of well-researched citations for those who want to know more. Good layout and design, with attractive visuals and illustrations throughout bring the subject to life and reinforce the solid and provocative points Fogg is making. Arthur C. Clark once said "the best technology is like magic" and BJ Fogg tells us how the magic of technology is influencing the choices we make. For anyone working on e-business, or wanting to understand why the website is working (or not), or giving orders to your web designers, this is the book to have.
on January 18, 2003
Think you are in control of your life? Think again! Persuasive Technology is an ?eye-popping? look at how we are being influenced everyday by devices and computers. The use of technology for persuasion in the future will expand beyond mere advertising, marketing and sales. Your success in the future is dependent on understanding how captology works and how you are or can be manipulated. Awareness and education are the first step towards embracing new technologies and using them to your advantage. You could sign up and study at the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford to learn more, or you could read the book!
Dr. Fogg clears the ?fog? and mystique around captology and persuasion by interactive devices. He offers frequent thought-provoking examples of captology in everyday life. In Persuasive Technology you learn how persuasive technologies are already influencing you, and how you can use your new found knowledge to your advantage.
What is captology? In the book you will learn that ?captology focuses on the design, research and analysis of interactive computing products created for the purpose of changing people?s attitudes or behavior.?
As you will learn, persuasion has always been with us. Governments have long been known to attempt to influence their citizens. Some years ago, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) had a series entitled ?Films of Persuasion?. The show examined how the government produced movies aimed at changing citizens? attitudes and allowing the government new power. What is different today? Interactivity! With interactive persuasion, persuaders now ?adjust their influence tactics as the situation evolves?.
The book is easy to read and ?human engineered? for easy use and optimal retention. Each chapter is complete with references for further study and notes for clarification. Key points are visually summarized in tables in the chapters. All in all a well thought out format and presentation.
The first five chapters cover the groundwork needed to understand captology. Later chapters discuss credibility and ethics. The book concludes with a glance to the future of this emerging field.
Persuasive Technology gives you the resources for understanding how you are or can be persuaded by technology. It also provides skills for reseaching, designing and using captology.
B.J. Fogg has given us the golden keys to the future. Whether you are a businessperson, or student?or just plain curious, you will gain insight and power. As Spiderman once said, ?with power comes great responsibility?. Use you new knowledge to your advantage, but be gentle dear reader. After completing the book you will find that you have a great new power ? knowledge of captology.