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The Hidden Persuaders of the Digital Age

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Today many of the same techniques that Packard warned about sixty years ago in his classic "The Hidden Persuaders" are being used without hesitation to persuade users of digital products to subscribe, click, scroll, buy, invite and more. The same people who claim a user-centric mindset have no second thoughts when using learnings from psychology to obviously steer users towards desired behaviours.

In this talk I give examples of growing problem areas and and describe how designers need to take more responsibility for the well-being and autonomy of users, as well as some practical ways this could play out. There is a cost to doing the right thing, but there are also rarely measured human costs that we are already paying dearly for. By showcasing these costs of the different paths available to us we can boost the incentive to include more conscious, moral decision-making in the design process.

Veröffentlicht in: Design
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The Hidden Persuaders of the Digital Age

  1. 1. @axbom THE HIDDEN PERSUADERS OF THE DIGITAL AGE PER AXBOM @axbom
  2. 2. Take out your phone.
  3. 3. Write a message to someone you care about. Perhaps someone who has not heard from you in a while. Just wanted to say hi. Hope you’re having a great day.
 Thinking about you. Would love to get together soon. Realized we haven’t talked in a while. Talk this weekend?
  4. 4. @axbom When good turns out to be bad
  5. 5. Loss aversion Sunk cost fallacy Anchoring Bandwagon effect Decoy effect Expectation bias Confirmation bias
  6. 6. Biases are a human trait, and
 can be a weakness. Bias is the tendency to have an opinion, or view, that is often without considering evidence and other information. As designers we are not learning about human weaknesses so that we may exploit them.
 Our job is to remedy them.
  7. 7. My boyfriend just saw two suspicious African- American men in a car. They drove their car up the street, made a U-turn, and parked.” The private social network for your neighborhood. Imagine having to realize that the platform you built to bring communities closer is in fact creating great divides within them.
  8. 8. "I'm a person of color so it really cut deep. We hated the idea that something we built would be viewed as racist… I hadn't seen it in my own neighborhood's Nextdoor and so didn't realize it was an issue for us. Once I got past that, I was powered by the challenge to do something about it." Nirav Tolia, CEO of Nextdoor
  9. 9. ✓ Listening ✓ Assuming ownership ✓ Transparency ✓ Positive friction ✓ Leadership buy-in How NextDoor managed negative impact
  10. 10. OUTCOME
  11. 11. IMPACT
  12. 12. Whenever I’m asked to autograph a copy of “Nudge,” the book I wrote with Cass Sunstein, the Harvard law professor, I sign it, “Nudge for good.” Unfortunately, that is meant as a plea, not an expectation. – Richard A Thaler
  13. 13. “UX is about putting people first”
  14. 14. @axbom The fallacy of frictionless
  15. 15. A B “Thanks for giving me a break buddy!”
  16. 16. LOW HIGH BRAINPOWER
  17. 17. LOW HIGH BRAINPOWER
  18. 18. profit buyer uses reptilian brain LOW HIGH BRAINPOWER
  19. 19. About | News | Press Center | Career Opportunities | Investors About | News | Press Center | Jobs | Investors About | News | Press Center | Career Opportunities | Investors
  20. 20. 76 work days http://techland.time.com/2012/03/06/youd-need-76-work-days-to-read-all-your-privacy-policies-each-year/
  21. 21. @axbom Listening for negative impact
  22. 22. input investments and resources output product/service provided outcome immediate achievements impact medium/long-term consequences cultural economic environmental health / well-being political scientific social technological measured rarely measured Impact represents an intended or unintended significant change that affects people on an individual or societal level. Impact represents an intended or unintended significant change that affects people and/or the planet.
  23. 23. input investments and resources output product/service provided outcome immediate achievements impact medium/long-term consequences cultural economic environmental health / well-being political scientific social technological measured rarely measured Impact represents an intended or unintended significant change that affects people on an individual or societal level. In finance, we have developed shared fundamentals, which include risk, return, liquidity, volatility… to manage financial goals. For impact, there is a shared understanding that impact refers to material effects experienced by people and planet, both positive and negative and include 5 dimensions: what, how much, who, contribution and risk.
  24. 24. Own chocolate Invest in chocolate Weight gain Acne Addiction Eat chocolate Soon hungry again Hungry? INPUT OUTPUT OUTCOME IMPACT ✓ Hunger corrected
  25. 25. Notifications built Communicate need Stress/Anxiety False positives Concentration lapses Notifications sent
 User reminded
 People act on the notification Lower work performance Lots on your mind? INPUT OUTPUT OUTCOME IMPACT PUSH NOTIFICATIONS Diminishing trust
  26. 26. Your go-to design choice for
 interrupting human relationships and disrupting concentration. Notifications LOOK OVER HERE!
  27. 27. WHAT HOW MUCH WHO CONTRIBUTION RISK Induced stress A lot Overworked psychologists Big Patient harm The Impact Management Project is the voice of over 700 practitioners from across geographies and disciplines. Online behavioral therapy
  28. 28. Peak Notification Hey friend! I just wanted to take a slice out of your life. Bye!
  29. 29. Peak Asshole Allow notifications? YES NO
  30. 30. A B
  31. 31. A higher conversion rate is not equivalent to “better for the person”.
  32. 32. Ask a psychiatrist
  33. 33. Buying milk online 6 for 70kr
  34. 34. LOW HIGH BRAINPOWER
  35. 35. input investments and resources output product/service provided outcome immediate achievements impact medium/long-term consequences cultural economic environmental health / well-being political scientific social technological measured rarely measured Impact represents an intended or unintended significant change that affects people on an individual or societal level. The best way to adopt an ethical mindset is to include impact risk assessment in your work.
  36. 36. PER AXBOM Why designers fail
  37. 37. It would appear… that designers are also human beings. If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? — Shylock, Merchant of Venice
  38. 38. “This works really well.
 Yes, I understand completely.” Choice-supportive bias Confirmation bias “I believe you.” Framing
  39. 39. 16 out of 20 users found the search function on the website. 4 out of 20 users could not find the search function on the website.
  40. 40. Many designers express an ethical boundary of not working for tobacco, gambling or even soda companies… …yet have no problem working with solutions that encourage people to submit to a sedentary lifestyle, engage in addictive behavior or pursue short-term rewards.
  41. 41. the anxiety is real the nudges don’t make it easier
  42. 42. “The design industry is part of the problem. There is an idea that we constantly have to produce new things. The industry is oriented around launches and designing a new one and another new one.” – Florian Idenburg, principal of SO-IL
  43. 43. The problem-solver
 is part of the problem. Wherever you go, there you are.
  44. 44. The paradox of “a seat at the table”. Instead of focusing on people, designers are focusing on numbers.
  45. 45. PER AXBOM The power of you
  46. 46. The mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. A consequence of a person’s performing an action that contradicts personal beliefs, ideals, and values; and also occurs when confronted with new information that contradicts said beliefs, ideals, and values. Cognitive dissonance
  47. 47. Raise your hand and take it down when you hear a question you do not agree with. ✓ I have lied. ✓ I have lied to someone I care about. ✓ When I lie it is often to protect the feelings of the person I am lying to. ✓ I believe I will continue to lie. ✓ I have based design decisions on too little data. ✓ I will continue to design with too little data.
  48. 48. I am a good person? You are a human
  49. 49. Token absolutism Relativism - Absolutism Utilitarianism Kantian ethicsSituation ethics Virtue ethics
  50. 50. PERSON 1: “Does my hair look good.”
 PERSON 2: (lying) “Yes.” PERSON 1: “Awesome; I’ll keep going to this new hairdresser I’ve found then.” Outcome: Everyone feels good in the moment. Impact: Person 1 will keep having bad hair.
  51. 51. I don’t care I want to behave responsibly I want to support activities and businesses that have a positive effect on the world I want to contribute to solutions
  52. 52. You are never just working on an interface or an information architecture. You are working on a slice of other people’s lives.
  53. 53. About | News | Press Center | Career Opportunities | Investors About | News | Press Center | Jobs | Investors About | News | Press Center | Career Opportunities | Investors About | News | Press Center | Career Opportunities | Investors
  54. 54. @axbom Your material and your tools
  55. 55. Richard Lee, New Zealand
  56. 56. Prejudice that causes negative impact is already woven into the fabric of the Internet. If you don’t take a stand and make considered choices for change, minorities and underserved groups will keep being hurt.
  57. 57. The legacy of city planner Robert Moses
  58. 58. People who are already being hurt are the ones who are most likely to get hurt by your design.
  59. 59. We talk a lot about empathy in UX but we rarely talk about how empathy itself is prejudiced.
  60. 60. Gender and sexuality minorities Religious minorities Racial minorities Ethnic minorities Age minorities People with disabilities People in poverty Sufferers of crime
  61. 61. adjective having or showing laziness or negligence. Synonyms: lax, negligent, neglectful, remiss, careless, slapdash, slipshod, lackadaisical, lazy, inefficient, incompetent, inattentive, offhand, casual, disorderly, disorganized;
  62. 62. What How much Who Racial profiling People of color Important negative outcome Important positive outcome Neutral Marginal effect Deep effect For few For many Short-term Long-term Slowly Quickly Well-served Underserved IMPACT ASSESSMENT Adapted from www.impactmanagementproject.com
  63. 63. The Chlamydia Home Test Kit male female
  64. 64. The Chlamydia Home Test Kit vagina penis
  65. 65. The Chlamydia Home Test Kit vagina penis A United Nations fact sheet estimates that up to 1.7 per cent of the population “is born with intersex traits”.
  66. 66. I will never get inclusion on my own. No matter who my friends are. I need to work hard to include a diverse mix of people in the design process. And I need to listen for negative impact all the time. My name is Per and I am a white man. I am a middle-aged, cisgender, privileged, liberal designer with a boatload of prejudice.
 I am not a person you should trust for answers. I love my job but I need to love people first.
  67. 67. DickPicLocator
  68. 68. @axbom Adding friction
  69. 69. YOUR WEBSITE HOME      INFO        ABOUT        CONTACT WE ARE UNIQUE READ MORE We are extremely unique and different from our competitors by having a website that looks exactly the same. Always. Three. Columns. We could have four columns. But everyone else has three. Feeling creative we added pic of smiling woman here. Yup, the website layout says we can offer only 3 services. Idea stolen, with utmost respect, from Dave Ellis. / novolume.co.uk
  70. 70. You will find the password by reading the welcome information carefully. In this film you will find the password for logging in to the booking system, 5 small characters. Your username is in the confirmation e-mail. Code of conduct explained whilst giving out one letter of the password every thirty seconds.
  71. 71. “Dana made it hard for people to join, but that was great, because our members were loyal, active and serious.” Kevin Spacey about creating triggerstreet.com, a community for script writers. LOW HIGH BRAINPOWER
  72. 72. We design thinking LOW HIGH BRAINPOWER LOW HIGH BRAINPOWER
  73. 73. @axbom Final words Your promise to your profession
  74. 74. ✓ I didn’t know it ✓ I didn’t mean it ✓ I was forced ✓ It wasn’t me ✓ I didn't understand Instead of this…
  75. 75. ✓ Listen (for real) ✓ Assume ownership ✓ Be transparent ✓ Use positive friction ✓ Make ethics and impact assessment part of your process …do this.
  76. 76. Did you get a reply?
  77. 77. Responsible design is a muscle that needs practice to grow.
  78. 78. Please choose the path of positive impact.
  79. 79. axbom.com/euroia Slides! And a free book preview in progress

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