The Magic of Persuasive Design | Summary and Q&A

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November 8, 2017
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Stanford eCorner
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The Magic of Persuasive Design

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Summary

In this video, the speaker discusses the ethical framework for deploying persuasive techniques. They use the example of streaks in Snapchat to highlight how the application of such techniques can be ethical or unethical based on various factors. The speaker also emphasizes the importance of understanding the goals and intentions of both the persuader and the persuadee in order to evaluate the ethicality of a persuasive technique.

Questions & Answers

Q: How does the streaks feature in Snapchat work?

The streaks feature in Snapchat shows the number of consecutive days that two users have sent messages back and forth to each other. It is considered a persuasive design technique.

Q: Is the streaks feature in Snapchat ethical?

The ethicality of the streaks feature in Snapchat is subjective. It can be considered ethical if it increases the quality of life and helps users feel more connected with their friends. However, it can also be seen as unethical due to certain factors.

Q: What justification did the people at Snapchat provide for the streaks feature?

The people at Snapchat justified the streaks feature by claiming that it helps users focus on the relationships that truly matter by showing the depth of their friendships. This narrative aims to create a belief in users that the feature deepens their friendships.

Q: How does a persuasive technique like streaks affect the goals of the persuader and the persuadee?

The goals of the persuader, in this case, Snapchat, are different from the goals of the persuadee (user of Snapchat). Snapchat's goal is to hook users to use the product every day, while the persuadee's goal may be influenced by Snapchat's persuasion techniques without them even realizing it.

Q: What is the asymmetry between the knowledge of the persuaders and the persuadees?

There is an asymmetry in knowledge between the persuaders (Snapchat engineers) and the persuadees (Snapchat users). The users are not aware that there are engineers deliberately choosing persuasive techniques to influence their behavior.

Q: How does the persuader's goal infect the persuadee's goals?

In the case of Snapchat, the persuader's goal of hooking users to use the product every day infects the persuadee's goals. Users start defining the success of their friendships based on whether they can keep up their streaks, as they are influenced by the persuader's goal.

Q: Why does a streak feature on a meditation app feel different from Snapchat?

A streak feature on a meditation app may feel different because the goals of the user align with the persuader's goal. People who use meditation apps may genuinely want to mark off the number of consecutive days they have practiced meditation.

Q: Are there any negative consequences of the streaks feature on Snapchat?

Yes, there can be negative consequences. Some users may start defining the terms of their friendship based on their streaks, leading to a shallow understanding of friendships. This can create unrealistic expectations and negatively impact social connections.

Q: How can persuasive techniques be evaluated ethically?

Evaluating the ethicality of persuasive techniques requires considering factors such as the intention and goals of both the persuader and the persuadee, the asymmetry of knowledge, and the potential negative consequences on the persuadee's well-being and relationships.

Q: What is the significance of understanding one's own goals in ethical persuasion?

Understanding one's own goals is crucial in ethical persuasion because people often don't consciously know their goals. If they lack self-awareness, they become susceptible to having their goals influenced by persuaders, which may not align with their genuine desires.

Takeaways

Understanding the ethical framework for deploying persuasive techniques is essential. Factors such as the goals of the persuader and persuadee, the asymmetry of knowledge, and the potential negative consequences should be considered when evaluating the ethics of a technique. It is important for individuals to be aware of their own goals and not let them be shaped solely by the persuader's intentions.

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