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Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do

Chapter 4: Computers as Persuasive Media Simulation


When it comes to shaping attitudes and behavior, experience makes a difference. [1 ]Those in the business of persuading understand and apply this principle. AOL gives out trial memberships on CD. Auto dealers encourage customers to take a test drive. Government programs send at-risk kids to visit correctional facilities to get a glimpse of prison life. The goal in these and other scenarios is to provide a compelling experience that will persuade people to change their attitudes or behaviors.

Computers can shape attitudes and behavior by providing compelling simulated experiences.

The experience principle can be applied to persuasive technologies as well. When computers are used as persuasive media particularly when they are used to create simulations they can have a powerful impact on shaping attitudes and behaviors in the real world. [2 ]This chapter will focus on computers as persuasive media the second corner of the functional triad (Figure 4.1).

Figure 4.1: Computers as persuasive media.

Computer simulations can create experiences that mimic experiences in the real world, or they can create hypothetical worlds that are experienced as real. Simulations can be as simple as an Indy 500 race game on a handheld computer or as complex as virtual reality. [3 ]People often react to virtual experiences as though they were real-world experiences. [4 ]And it s this reaction that sets the stage for influence dynamics to play out.

Technology innovators have only begun to explore the persuasive possibilities of computer-simulated experiences. This is perhaps...


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