Behaviour change tech for good

Last night’s #techforgood/Think, Drink, Do meetup had four good short talks about different aspects of behaviour change. Ed Gardiner gave a very brief introduction to theories of behaviour, and a live illustration of the prisoner’s dilemma game. Which is fine, but I’ve always found ultimatum and dictator games an even better illustration of how far classical economic theory is from reality (in short: people basically give their money away to strangers because it is the right thing to do).

Nick Stanhope from Shift had some thoughtful things to say about providing information versus providing a product or service, and the “three strands of value”: social, user, and financial. You can read more on his blog. Kathleen Collett, also from Shift, then talked about a specific project they’ve been working on, encouraging children to learn abdominal breathing via a video game.

And finally, Rubert Tebb from Paper gave a quick history of their development of the Spruce app, which prods young adults to take three days off drinking each week. Very cool stuff on how to test your as yet unbuilt app using text messages!

Two speakers also talked a little about the experimental designs when testing their products. There were some very good practices discussed like randomization, control groups and so on. But there were also some details I would have liked to hear more about, such as the exact treatment of controls and the analysis of drop-outs. Maybe getting all of these up to the best standards would make the whole exercise completely safe from criticism?

There’s also a nice Storify of the event at BGV.

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