Development and Design - Module 3


Captology is the study of using computers for behavioral change.
What are you doing to motivate your users?

The most valuable code for your project is the code you don't write!!
The Designatic


Science Of Persuasion.


BJ Fogg Video.


A great article that shows the power of using the right words to get people to stick to appointments that they have made. In this case, "...boosting vaccination rates by up to 11%". Getting people to make the right decisions can help us convert our customers, give them better experiences, make us better developers in the eyes of our peers, and prevent us, developers, from having to revisit things we have shipped days, weeks, months or, even years ago.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Behavior Change for Good Initiative Unveils Effective Strategies to Boost Vaccination Rates

Background Commentary

Captology is the study of using technology and computers for behavior change. One of the simplest change strategies is by using intermittent rewards. Think of the hours you have spent playing Candy Crush, Farmville, Boom Beach, Doom, or hit the refresh button to read work emails, check out FaceBook, or even write code. Think about that!!
Software creation is addicting!!

Writing code is very addicting and is a fundamental reason a disconnect exists between us the software creator and the user. They do not have the benefit of the developer’s addiction, nor have they had the benefits of intermittent rewards during its creation, or via your life long love of software development.

While many different persuasive techniques are available, at all times we must be ethical around how they are employed. Of course, what is ethical today, may not be in the future and we must be ever vigilant to ensure we are living up to the current norms and practices of society.

Important Definitions

The Six Areas of Influence as defined by Robert Cialdini

  1. Reciprocity
    People feel the need to return favors even if they are not asked for. The very old saying, treat others as you wish to be treated is apt to describe this. The video above, talks about the various ways tips can be increased by various ways of using Reciprocation. Other studies have shown that telling soldiers or other workers that they are the best, will universally increase performance.

  2. Scarcity
    People like the things they can not have. Remembering our lessons on Behavioral Economics, losses are must worse than winning. As such, taking something away is painful and can make it appear to be more valuable.

  3. Authority
    Experts or people in uniforms are given much more credibility. It is even possible to be introduced as the expert, by someone with a vested output in the outcome, and the audience will respect and listen to that introduced speaker with greater attention. Think of the case of a sales rep introducing their engineer as the expert.

  4. Consistency
    People generally respond well to commitments and consistent behavior from others. This is also a way in which you can change your own behavior by publicly announcing an intention to change.

  5. Liking
    We like to like those we like. Science tells us 3 things impact this. People who are similar to us, people that pay us compliments, and cooperate with us. Doing some small talk at the beginning of any activity will enable you to work better with others.

  6. Consensus and Social Proof
    Is the psychological and social phenomenon that guides other users to make the same decisions that others have made. Think about some of the web applications that you have used in the last few weeks. In just the last few weeks I have been prompted that some number of people are watching this item. In the last few hours, so many people have bought insurance for this kind of item or purchase. With social media, I am validated by how many likes, or comments happen on my posts. This has given rise to Insta-palaces, places that are Instagram or social media worthy. It can also prompt a rise in stress and other challenges with people’s emotions.


Identify a software application or experience that either purposefully or by accident used Captology to influence your decision/s. At this point, most social media is using this to manipulate you. Enterprise software organically does this, think of the intermittent rewards that show up with email. Many other places don’t necessarily test this to validate it works, but will get to it organically or by accident.

More Reading/s

A beautiful chart around many persuasion methods
Fun link about the challenges of consuming Open Source Projects

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