Culturally-Relevant Persuasive Technology
Persuasive technology (PT) has been defined by B. J. Fogg as "any interactive computing system designed to change peoples attitudes or behaviors". The kinds of attitudes people hold, and the behaviours they exhibit, are influenced by culture, so cultural beliefs play a large role in persuasion. The cross-cultural psychology literature has demonstrated the power of culture on attitude change. To date, however, there has been limited persuasive technology research outside of countries characterised as having individualist culture, where individualism describes cultures in which society members have a primarily individual identity. Little research has explicitly investigated the relationship between persuasive technology and culture. In this thesis, we investigated the hypothesis that persuasive technology is more effective when it reflects the culture of its intended target audience. Firstly, we established a set of effective, culturally-relevant persuasive technology strategies, almost all of which are targeted at use in tools for collectivist audiences. The strategies are based on a combination of findings from the cross-cultural psychology literature focused on the dimensions of individualism and collectivism, an analysis of existing PT strategies, and qualitative insights. Secondly, we developed a culturally-relevant PT prototype based on several of our strategies, in the form of two versions of a game titled Smoke? about smoking cessation. One version of Smoke? was designed to be more persuasive for a NZ European player audience, while the other was designed to be more persuasive for a Maori player audience. We conducted focus groups with potential players, the insights of which guided how we applied several of our culturally-relevant PT strategies in the design of the two game versions. Finally, we evaluated both game versions on individualist, and collectivist test players, using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The results of our evaluation support our hypothesis. Not only did both sets of players engage with, and use the culturally-relevant interface elements of the game designed for their culture, they also demonstrated that the culturally-relevant game versions had increased their anti-smoking beliefs.