Everyone Needs a hug and the Ethics of Persuasive Technologies

Via Dina – this post highlights how a simple change in design radically changes behavior. Adding the default text to a form of "Everyone needs a hug" reduced flame comments.

That same post led me to this captology notebook article on the ethics of persuasion. From the article introduction:

Why pay special attention to computerized persuasive technologies?
The chief reason is that while non-computerized technologies can
certainly be persuasive, only rarely can they stand on their own . A
television with no infomercial to display will not convince you to buy
new cutlery. A whip without someone to wield it will cow no slave into
obedience. Even a carpool lane requires enforcement.

What makes computerized persuasive technologies more interesting
than these examples is that they can persuade independently.
Computerized persuasive technologies are also dynamic, changing in
response to different users and their inputs. They allow
persuasion "and the persuasive experience" to be simultaneously
mass-manufactured and user-specific. For instance, a wristwatch that
encourages you to keep running by congratulating you on the specific
number of calories you have burned is completely self-contained. This
leads to questions of agency: do you blame the wristwatch if a runner
suffers a heart attack trying to achieve a certain pulse?

Read the full article on ethics of persuasion here:

The topic of ethics of persuasion is very germane for us right now as we focus on persuasion architecture as a company. Looking forward to bringing this up at this month’s IABC luncheon!