Monday, March 26, 2007

Interview: Persuasion Guru BJ Fogg

An informative interview about capitology ...

"BJ Fogg directs research and design at Stanford University's Persuasive Technology Lab , and is pretty much The Don of captology - the study of how computers can be used to influence people's behaviour.

We asked him a few questions about how internet marketers could be using persuasion techniques more effectively, as well as some of the more scary implications for individual web users.

In a nutshell, what is captology?

Captology is the study of how computers can change people’s beliefs and behaviours. By saying computers, that includes everything from websites to mobile phones to video games. Basically, how can machines shape humans’ behaviours.

Your research into captology included training your dog using clickers. What did you learn?

Yes, I used clicker training to train my German Shepherd - which was fun, but also a way for me to understand better how computers use reinforcement to change our behaviour. It was so interesting.

I went in with the premise that you can read about how reinforcement can shape animals’ behaviour, but you don’t really understand it until you do it, and that’s true.

One of the big surprises was how much timing matters. If the timing of the reinforcer is a fraction off, you reinforce the wrong thing – which is actually good for computers as they are very responsive and accurate. You can tell the computer that this is the exact moment to do the reinforcement.

Also, I learned how easily behaviour is shaped. I taught my dog how to pick up some toys and put them into a basket, from scratch, in ten minutes."    (Continued via E-consultancy)    [Usability Resources]

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