Persuasive Technology (201600097)

The possibilities offered by technology in today's society are endless. In the past, social psychologists had to rely on traditional communication strategies to achieve behavioural change. Mass-media campaigns and verbal communication were the tools that they used to try to influence both the general public, and consumers specifically. Nowadays, however, social psychology theories can be used to further the development and use of technological interventions. In this module, students will develop a technological intervention for a mobile device (app) with the aim of achieving behavioural change.  

This model includes four components:

  1. 1.4 Project: Technology Design and Compliance
  2. 1.4 Theory: Behavioural Change
  3. 1.4 Research Methodology: Quantitative Data Analysis 1
  4. 1.4 Academic and Professional Skills: Professional Communication 

1.4 P: Technology Design and Compliance
Starting in week 1, students will start an imaginary entrepreneurial firm (start-up) centred around a societal or human behaviour compliance problem. The problem chosen by the students is analysed and translated into a value proposition canvas. Second, students will recruit a practitioner from the field to assist their team. He or she will serve as a ‘critical friend’ and can be used to gain practical information about the target market. The students will then identify specific app design criteria and requirements. This includes statistical parameters which define which data needs to be collected by their app. These parameters will be used in the (fictitious) beta test of the app. 

In week 7, the problem definition and idea for the app will be presented in a competitive ‘Shark Tank’ presentation. Established entrepreneurs will evaluate the ideas and solutions and decide whether to support the pitch or not. 
In the second part of the module, the start-up firms will each write a briefing based on their chosen behavioural problem and business model. This briefing will serve as the input for another company (consisting of a different student group) that will work on developing the app. 

This means that different student start-up groups will be the app developers for the entrepreneurial start-up firm. In this role, they will be responsible for building a mock-up app that meets the specifications and parameters as communicated in the briefing. Each group of students thus plays two different roles, that of entrepreneurial start-up and that of app developers. In their role as entrepreneurs they will provide feedback on the draft mock-ups of another student group. 

In module component Quantitative Data Analyses 1, the students will learn to use correlation and regression analysis. They will apply these skills to a (fictitious) beta test dataset that includes socio-demographic information and (in-app) financial behaviours. These statistical analyses can be used to support design choices and the business case. 

1.4 T: Behavioural Change
In this module component, the focus is on social psychology. It will provide students with knowledge and understanding of tools that can explain and possibly also influence human behaviour. First, the general theories and mechanisms of social psychology will be explained. The second part of this module component focuses specifically on persuasive technology. 

1.4 R: Quantitative Data Analyses 1
In this module component, students practise using the statistical software package SPSS. First, statistical techniques from module 2 (descriptives, correlation) will be reviewed. This review will be done using data from a fictitious data set that includes ‘pains and gains’. Second, students will be lectured on various statistical techniques related to regression and correlation analyses. Students then have to devise (statistical) parameters that can be used to evaluate the success of their app. Finally, all the elements will be combined when students apply their skills and analyses plan to a (fictitious) dataset. The variables and data in this dataset will correspond with the design parameters of the app created and their analysis plan. Each group will have their own unique dataset. These analyses (using syntax) enable the students to assess the effectiveness and functionality of their app.  

1.4 S: Professional Communication
This module component introduces the academic and professional skills needed to develop a mobile application. First, students are trained in professional communication with professionals and other companies. This can be used when recruiting the critical friend for their start-up, and in their interactions with the other group during the development stage. Secondly, students prepare for a competitive pitch which they will present in the Shark Tank presentation format. Finally, students are trained and supervised in academic reflection.