8 August 2014

Can technology really change your habits?

Be the first to share

Downloading an app won’t get you to change your habits. Vivian Giang writes on the science of what will.

“There are three kinds of behavioral changes, according to Arun Sundararajan, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business whose research program focuses on how information technologies transform business and society:

  • The first includes changing behaviors that you learned through experience, such as the way you manage your time.
  • The second involves retraining your biomechanical system to behave differently, such as not pressing the breaks constantly while you’re driving.
  • The third has to do with physiological behaviors such as smoking and exercising.

The behaviors that have the highest chance of changing even after app usage are the second and third. Why? “Because they’re not changing you. They’re training you to do something differently, so once you’ve trained yourself, you can stop using [the app],” says Sundararajan. When it comes to learned behavior (the first one), there’s a greater chance you’ll revert back to your old behavior after using the app.

If the app only changes your reaction to feedback, such as reprimanding you for checking your social media, then there’s a good chance you’re only changing your behavior because you’re using the app. When it comes to changing, Sundararajan says your best bet is to not put too much stock in the digital and technology.

“Over the last decade, we’ve started to overestimate the power of technology and we reduce the importance of things like community,” he says. “A big part of behavior change has to do with changing the environment that you’re in and changing the interactions that you have with people.””

Be the first to share
28 January 2016
The Power of Privacy – documentary film
In this half-hour film (commissioned by The Guardian and Silent Circle), Aleks Krotoski travels the world to undergo challenges that explore our digital life in the 21st century. Watch her be stalked and hacked, fight to …
24 January 2016
The grand illusion of empowerment
Financial times journalist/anthropologist Gillian Tett deconstructs the idea that the internet hands power to the people. In fact, she writes, in most countries power remains firmly in the hands of the elite. The bitter — and …
22 January 2016
The power of creativity from below
Anthropologist Michael Thompson believes in the power of creativity from below in solving some of the smaller and bigger problems of our time. "People generally are very creative and innovative. Many anthropological case studies have shown …
31 December 2015
[Report] Easier Said Than Done
Easier Said Than Done: Why we struggle with healthy behaviours and what to do about it By Nathalie Spencer RSA, December 2015 Many of us know what we should be doing to live healthily, yet many of us …
31 December 2015
[Book] The People’s Platform
The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age By Astra Taylor Picador, 288 pages April 2015 The Internet has been hailed as an unprecedented democratizing force, a place where all can participate equally. But how …
31 December 2015
The technophiles unhappy about the tech revolution
Joel Achenbach reports in the Washington Post on how digital dissenters say human needs are getting lost in the digital revolution and start to fight the tech establishment. Taylor is a 21st-century digital dissenter. She’s one …
31 December 2015
Ethno-writing about digital infrastructure
Data & Society is a NYC-based research institute focused on the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric technological development. The institute that was founded by danah boyd, principal researcher and Microsoft Research and frequently …
16 December 2015
‘Nudging’ behaviours in healthcare: insights from behavioural economics
‘Nudging’ behaviours in healthcare: insights from behavioural economics Benjamin G. Voyer, London School of Economics Article (Accepted version) (2015) British Journal of Healthcare Management, 21 (3). pp. 130-135 Since the creation of the Behavioural Insight Team (BIT) in 2010, …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

18 January 2016
Experientia website completely reshaped

Experientia is pleased to announce that we’ve started 2016 with a brand new website. Experientia’s now officially 10 years old, and we decided that the best way to celebrate is by building a new website that showcases our growth – with new projects, new people in the staff, and two new locations in Lausanne and […]

1 January 2016
For when things get personal…
13 October 2015
Experientia report: Design for ageing gracefully

Design for Ageing Gracefully Rethinking Health and Wellness for the Elderly: Public Services Asian Insights & Design Innovation, DesignSingapore Council October 2015

29 September 2015
[Experientia book] Ethnography on elderly health and wellness

As we age, we increasingly depend on public services and the community for support. Well-designed public services can greatly affect the lives of the elderly and their experiences of healthcare. Experientia collaborated with DesignSingapore Council on understanding how the elderly interact with public services and how we can look towards improving their lives with design. […]

2 July 2015
Getting citizens involved in protecting fragile energy environments

A new project funded under the FP7 European Commission framework is getting citizens involved in testing new tools for reducing energy consumption during peak loads, in the hope that its pilot program will set the new state of the art for protecting locations with fragile electricity supplies. One of France’s most fragile regions The Provence-Alpes-Côte […]

5 May 2015
Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록 in Design 4 Disaster

Design 4 Disaster features an engaging illustrated safety manual for ship passengers, a personal project by Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록. After the Korean ferry accident last year, Yuluck (who is Korean) wanted to find a way to make safety manuals more interesting to read. He spent one year designing an interactive safety guide […]

See all articles