SXSW2011: Behavioral Change

These are my notes from Aza Raskin's "Behavioral Change Checklist" talk at SXSW 2011.  
Despite the overwhelming buzz around the SCVNGR's "Game Layer", I thought Aza had easily the strongest, most influential talk of SXSW. 

Formerly the creative lead of Firefox, Aza is now focused on bringing behavioral change to healthcare via Massive Health.  You can follow him on Twitter @azaaza.

Bonus: I had the chance to chat with BJ Fogg face-to-face both before and after this session.  Many of us would consider BJ Fogg to be *THE* godfather of behavioral change.

Behavioral change checklist:

The one secret to changing behavior:
Feedback Loops! -- Giving people immediate feedback on their actions
  • FourSquare: Check in and get little badges ( get something back immediately)
  • Twitter: People reply
  • WoW: Get integer bigger; control that integer
  • Amazon: for every 20ms increase in speed of loading of site (sub human reaction time), increase sales by 1%.  Why?  People would search a little more, iterate a little faster.
  • Google reduce page load from .9sec to .5sec ==> 20% increase in revenue from ad sales.

Deep Dive Examples: 

Obesity: Mom, nurse practitioner: Why is she overweight?  
  • Lack of a feedback loop.
  • Cake: great mouthfeel, gives joy.  Immediate positive dopamine hit.
  • But the negative consequences doesn't come for weeks and months.  It's a feedback problem!
  • Your body isn't set up to positively reward good behavior.
  • Broken feedback loop: People are bad at understanding how the things they do today effect their body later.
Prius: Realtime feedback on miles per gallon on dashboard
  • Causes whole new sport of hyper milers, who go through yellow lights, don't stop at stop signs, coast all just to increase a number: "just an integer".
  • It's not even a game.  There are no gamification here, just feedback.
  • People's brains turn feedback into games for you.
BMW: put miles per gallon in even more prominent spot and people would crash.
  • For just a feedback loop, just an integer, people are willing to put themselves in mortal danger.
  • We're not rational creatures.  Can we design for that?

Cog sci principles:
Time discounting: you value the enjoyment you have now different than you value the enjoyment you have in the future.  Live in the present.  Eg: Mail in rebate, smokers.
  • Writing your meals down will cause you to lose weight. (No need to count calories, etc)
  • Defeat your own selective memory.
  • Need to trick you future self.

How to deal with procrastination?

Break the Feedback Loop
Great Firewall of China: Trying to access BBC - China doesn't block to sometimes it works, most of the time it works very slowly, sometimes it doesn't load.
You start getting annoyed not at the Great Firewall of China but at the BBC, like it's far away
If you block somebody from doing something, make it taboo, they'll resist and everybody does it
But if you just make it merely annoying, people won't make the effort.  Cake in front of you vs. cake 3 blocks away.
People want instant gratification.  If not instant, then power drops dramatically.

Facebook Productivity Filter (experiment)
Set up Facebook filter:
    • 1st time you go, loads immediately.
    • Afterwards, runs increasingly, randomly slower
    • 4th-5th time, takes 8-9 seconds to load, very frustrating
But turning off the filter takes way more time than waiting 8-9 seconds to wait for Facebook to come up.
So you just wait for it.  After a while, you just don't want to wait for Facebook anymore.  It's so annoying!
  • This is what happens when you break the Feedback loop.  When you stop the dopamine hit.

Delayed gratification

IQ is bad metric for future success
Best predictor (high correlation with future success): Test for Delayed Gratification
Marshmallow test with kids: Eat it now, that's fine.  But if it's still there when I come back, you get 2 marshmallows!
Rational answer: wait a few minutes.

If we as designers were trying to make it easier for these kids, how would we solve that?
  1. Social feedback loop: Video feed of other kids trying to solve the problem at the same time: Competition & benchmarking
  2. Tracking progress: Something that gives you extra points every 5 seconds you don't eat it
Random Rewards
  • Random rewards give you 2-3X dopamine kick than with regular rewards
  • This explains why email is so exciting.  If you batch emails one every 30 minutes, much less amusing
  • Application: If I were a soft drink manufacturer: When you're drinking Coke, for every random 10 sips, we give you a spike of super Coke syrup.  You're going to sit there sitting away, wondering when you're going to get the kick.  And it'll taste much better than if someone just gave it to you.  Such is the Power of anticipation.
Feedback loops change people's behavior

Health care Applications: 

Heart Disease, Diabetes, Hypertension - you get no immediate feedback that anything bad is happening to your body.  Instead, you have positive feedback in the wrong direction -- the bad stuff tastes really good!

How can we hack the body's natural feedback loop?
==> How can we give a little bit of dopamine as a reward for *NOT* doing bad behavior?

Finishing your antibiotics, finishing your medications - Example: ugly splotch on your finger until you finish your antibiotics

Next iPod is going to be dentures, why?
  • Little sensor in your teeth: counts your chewing, can tell the difference between pasta, hamburgers, etc.
  • Tells your mom if you chew too much, posts online to your community
  • Little magnets so if you chew too much, it becomes harder to chew
  • 2 leaderboards on chew activity
Not enough to present an integer:
But data's got to be presented in a way that makes sense: gives meaning.  Causes the dopamine kick.
Data ==> Meaning ==> Actionability


Stop a behavior: Break the dopamine kick!
Start or sustain a behavior: Create a dopamine kick!

How do you create a dopamine kick for something that today is delayed gratification.
Dopamine hit everytime
  • You take a walk, get some exercise
  • Eat healthy food
Don't depend on education and power of will, create a feedback loop!

Posted via email from Pete's posterous

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