Module: Persuasive Technology

Module Background

Persuasion is the act of persuading someone to do or believe something. Persuasive Technology, by definition, is technology that has the ability to persuade. Effective persuasion results in a change to a person’s behaviour, attitudes or beliefs. This module introduced the foundations of persuasive design, i.e. the implementation of well-known persuasive principles in interactive technological products.

The goal of this module is to provide me with an understanding of existing theories and strategies for explicitly or implicitly motivating people to behave differently. The module explores how these ideas might be employed by the design of interactive products or environments to purposely effect behaviour change. Also the intention of the designer and the ethical aspects of influencing people by means of design are subject.


This module we focused a lot on the presentation of our ideas. You can see them here in the report and presentation.






Goals and motivation

When I look back at what I have created, most of my designs where in some sort persuasive, but I could not say why in terms of theory. I want to be able to make my design decision more conscious and be able to convince future clients through a well build up pitch why people would want to use something, with a little bit more than just because it’s fun to use, it is reacting at your input etc.

Design decisions I mostly make through a process of validation with users combined with my own intuitions and instincts. I believe these instincts and own motivations have become better over the years, but I want to be able to explain why design is appealing to interact with. I hope that I will get a lot of examples with an analysis of existing designs that are experienced as persuasive.

Process and analysis

This module was the first time that I worked together with Ken and Anouk. It was a bit searching for the motivations and expectations of each other. We were all motivated and eager to put a good result in the end, but sometimes we lost the view of the goal of the module. My role in the team was mainly focused on understanding and applying the theory in the process. Through the process I read most of the theory and explained my team members my new gained knowledge. Each of us took the task to present on one day to develop this skill further.

In terms of theory I have learned a lot this module. There is still a lot that I need to go over one more time to get depth into the theory as I have not used all the given theories this module. But I have a broader understanding of what theories there are, when to use them in the design process, and how to apply them. One of the mistakes we made was picking a too complex situation and putting a nice design higher than understanding the theory. If we would have chosen a simple context and behaviour change, I believe our story would have been more convincing. Although I can see this mistake now and I don’t regret that we have made it.


For future designs if I want to apply the theory I know where to keep extra attention on. I believe the persuasive intent should be very clear and better be too simplistic than too complex. Through several iterations the intended behaviour change can be tested. A larger behaviour change should be split up in several stages. The theories can both work as an inspiration as well as a tool for validation or decision making in the design process.
I know a lot more about what persuasive principles to use to change behaviour. Analyzing the existing situation in depth, is the key for a successful behaviour change. I learned that when you have one specific target group with one specific behaviour, the interaction with the product will become very concrete and therefore the intended behaviour change will be easier to validate. If you learn more about the existing situation you have to adjust the intended behaviour change.
In terms of teamwork in the future I want to spend more time discussing what each others motivations are and relate it to the goal of the module/project. I have learned that I have to be more confident of the insights I get and in the teamwork I don’t have to validate everything with the rest.


You made good design explorations to examine how the constructs from different theories can be applied to design. In the first iteration you did a good job of gathering information about the context by interviewing different stakeholders, however  you had not yet defined a clear enough scope for a clear persuasive intent.  In the second iteration your applied the playful experiences framework. You could have examined whether it is possible to combine the persuasive principles of Cialdine with the plex cards. In the third iteration the scope of your design was still to complex to make clear persuasive design decisions. However, in the end you were able provide an example of applying theoretical constructs to the design of a set of trash cans to persuade people to have a closer look at the flyer they receive ten the otherwise do.


You had some trouble scoping your design process to the purposes of the module. However, you did write a good reflection and added some extra work after the final session in the module, to show that you were able to apply theoretical constructs to a clearly scoped persuasive intent goal.


You can explore further how some of the other theories and toolkits that you did not apply yourself might have provided different insights for your design.

This module was a bit a struggle which made that I learned what the possible pitfalls are when applying the theories from this module. The scope and the persuasive intend must be very simple initially, most of the time a behavior can be devided in multiple behavior’s or steps. Tackling all at one time is hard to do. We oversteped a bit this module by taking the value of the concept too high, while the intention was to just master the theory.



Module feedback
Lecturers: Harm van Essen, Tilde Bekker Semester: M12 Competencies: User focus and perspective, Design and research processes, Teamwork and Communications, Social cultural Awareness Duration: 1 week