Preferences & Nudges in Sociotechnical Systems

23 September 2013
Microsoft Research Cambridge

Every day, millions of people make decisions in digital environments or supported by software tools. Designers of sociotechnical systems influence the choices people make, both intentionally and inadvertently, with their design decisions.

In this talk, I will discuss my research on individual preferences and systems designed to nudge people to be their better selves. I will present two studies of people's preferences for political opinion information and efforts to nudge those preferences using different interfaces and a reflective, personal informatics tool (CHI 2010, ICWSM 2013). I will then give an overview of my current research on using technology to help people live healthier and happier lives.

Resources: Refs · Slides (26MB PDF)

Bio Sean is an Assistant Professor at the UW's Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering and a member of the dub group. He studies the use of software to support behavior changes. His work primarily focuses on the domains of political news and opinion access and health and wellness. Sean completed a BS in Engineering with a concentration in Systems Design at Olin College in 2006 and his PhD at the University of Michigan's School of Information in 2012. He has been a political blogger and, while working at Boeing, designed concepts for future passenger airplane interiors.
smunson at uw dot edu
423B Sieg Hall
Campus Box 352315

Seattle, WA 98195
The Balance Project

Aggregators such as Digg, Reddit, and Google News rely on ratings and links to select and present subsets of the large quantity of news and opinion items generated each day. This work requires understanding people's preferences for diversity (CHI 2010), as well as developing methods of selecting diverse sets of items (ICWSM 2009), and presentation techniques increase the diversity of opinions people read (CHI 2010, ICWSM 2013). We also study the prevalence of political content on non-political sites, and how people engage with that content. (ICWSM 2011.)

Also see the Balancer Extension.

Health & Wellness (Swellness)

I am building and deploying a series of applications designed to support various aspects of wellness. This work identifies ways to build applications that effectively support health behavior change and will also contribute to our understanding of theories about influence and their interactions with indvidual differences and preferences. Published work includes a study of how people use Facebook and Online Health Communities to support health goals (CSCW 2011), a study of a social version of a positive psychology exercise (Persuasive 2010), and ways to support goal setting and self monitoring on mobile applications (Pervasive Health 2012).