The Digitization of Psychology

An assumption is often made that knowledge can or will bring about change in human behavior. That viewpoint ignores the reality that emotions play a major role in changing behavior because there are so many knots in the wood of human nature.

In my interview of Amy Bucher, I asked her about live experts vs. avatars vs. chatbots. For consumers interacting with a digital product online, which of these three approaches is most successful in effecting change?

What her research suggests is that avatars serve as an ideal middle ground between a mechanistic approach (chatbots) and a costly, fully human approach (live experts). Why? The answer lies in emotions. By using an avatar’s face on screen, an intimate enough connection is simulated. At the same time, online users don’t feel at risk of being condescended to by a live expert. In other words, the emotion of trust—of being shown respect—gives the nod to avatars, and a reason for live experts to improve their EQ skills.

The Psychology of Using Design to Motivate Change

Released today: episode #30 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Amy Bucher, the author of Engaged: Designing for Behavior Change. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Amy Bucher, PhD, works in Behavior Change Design at Mad*Pow and previously worked at CVS Health and Johnson & Johnson. She received her A.B. from Harvard University and her M.A. and PhD in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan.

This episode addresses both the barriers and levers to achieving behavioral change. Among the barriers are cognitive biases, like a Status Quo Bias, as well as growing both emotionally and mentally exhausted by changes that require too much willpower on behalf of the user. Opportunities to promote change include having accountability buddies to help guide you, and avatars that have proven highly effective in providing information in a trust-building, nonjudgmental manner.