Persuadability and captology

Recently, I read Mobile Persuasion with case-histories and experiences on using the mobile phone to persuade us. And there is no doubt about it: the mobile can play a vital role in persuading people in a multitude of ways. There are plenty of projects trying to convince us to stop smoking, to take more exercise or to lead a healthier life.

Technology is moving into our lives and its role in conditioning the way in which people think and act will become more and more obvious. That is why B.J. Fogg is teaching Captology, which focuses on the study of technologies that might persuade us in some way. According to him, this includes design, research and the analysis of interactive technologies created with the aim of changing peoples? attitudes and behaviour.

In my opinion, this is mixing two disciplines which I believe to be quite different (even though they are clearly related). It is one thing to talk about technologies – among them, the mobile phone – which, in themselves, play a key role in persuasion (in this sense we can refer to captology), but quite another to discuss how to generate user experiences on such technologies which are clearly persuasive (this is persuadability).

In the last Persuasive Technology congress, the attendees had very different profiles. Some were much more obsessed with usability, persuadability and the user experience. The others were more interested in technologies which can persuade us all. Persuadability and captology are two worlds in close proximity which follow different interests and logic.

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