Designing for Behavior Change: Identifying design components that encourage and empower individuals to act in environmentally responsible ways

2011-05-01T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Jennifer Shirey

Many designers today are creating communication materials that encourage individuals to change their behavior related to environmental issues. The problem is that people are often unaware of existing research on effective methods for these communications. For example, environmental psychologists have studied best practices for creating persuasive communications for several decades.

During this yearlong master’s thesis project, I conducted my own research studies, exploring how the emotional tone and medium of a communication piece affect a person’s decision to change his or her behavior. My second goal was to connect designers to existing research in the fields of psychology, decision sciences, and persuasive technology.

In the end, I created a roadmap to behavior change: a compilation of research from my own studies and existing literature. The roadmap includes observations and practical tips people can use when designing for environmental issues, as well as a set of ethical principles that should be followed when designing for behavior change.

I believe that my work will help designers use communication to empower individuals with knowledge, encouraging them to begin and sustain a journey toward positive behavior change.