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Glossary » persuasive computing

persuasive computing

or “captology”; the use of computing technology to change or influence attitudes or behaviors. Examples include advertising, public service messages, and demo and attract-mode screens used for point-of-sale displays and arcade games.

Many important ethical issues need to be considered in this context. For instance, as with medical interventions, we would hope that our persuasive interventions are both safe and effective. That is, are we having the intended effect or causing some unanticipated side effect? Is our intended effect even an appropriate one (e.g. in advertising, are we creating a desire that will actually be good for the individual affected)? Are we coercively manipulating people (e.g. changing their behavior against their better judgment, as in the subliminal suggestion debate)?

(“captology” is derived from the acronym for Computers As Persuasive Technology.)