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Tapping the Powers of Persuasion

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B.J. Fogg

Stanford's B.J. Fogg coined the term Captology for the study of "computers as persuasive technology."

Maggie Shiels

If you compulsively check Facebook, you are not alone, and your behavior, says B. J. Fogg, is no accident.

In his role as a professor of psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, Fogg studies how technology influences behavior. As a consultant to corporations and organizations, he teaches how to design persuasive technologies, those designed to modify behavior without coercion. And as an educator, he's taught many people who now work at Facebook and Google or who have founded other Silicon Valley startups that rely in large part on the power of persuasion.

"Facebook taps into our need to belong," says Fogg, who is writing a book about the psychology of the social-networking site. "Checking it is the most efficient way to feel like you matter. Eventually it becomes a ritual." While most companies can't hope to become another Facebook, Fogg says that with a careful eye to design, organizations can do more to reach specific goals, whether that's getting consumers to switch brands or getting employees to lose weight to save on health care.

From Technology Review
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