Value Sensitive Design for Sustainability

People use information that is created, accessed and stored on their laptops, tablets and smart phones to help them make both everyday and important decisions. People are enabled to create, and share information and knowledge. This information and knowledge creating, searching, and sharing, results in people and broader communities adopting new ways of acting, doing and behaving. It also supports the establishment of new communities, which in turn create and share new information and knowledge. Persuasive technologies and behaviour change support systems have been defined as “computerized software or information systems designed to reinforce, change or shape attitudes or behaviours or both without using coercion or deception”. An aside here is that it is questionable if such systems do truly avoid using any form of force to try to change people’s behaviour. Many forms of force exist — some of which use both social conscience and the person’s own conscience to influence behaviour change. These are forms of force, as are those, which seek to create cognitive dissonance to influence behaviour change. Within the area of energy reduction some systems use predictive modelling to calculate and provide feedback on potential energy saving opportunities for the user (e.g. work by Fischer). Other approaches promote pro-environmental values and attitudes with the goal that this will influence a change in behaviour. One major criticism of such systems is that they prescribe changes in behaviour without understanding why people behave in particular ways, or why particular behaviours are carried out. Consequently, many case studies report a lack of longterm engagement.

Reducing our carbon footprint is an urgent global issue. What role can interactive and social-media technologies play in addressing this challenge? How can these technologies be used to influence people to change their energy-usage behaviours? Existing solutions report limited and only short-term success due to the difficulties of making the information personalised and contextually relevant and in focusing upon behaviour rather than the values governing behaviour. The first of these issues is difficult due to the considerable variability in the lifestyles of different people and communities. The second is difficult because of the problems of identifying peoples values and relating these to energy behaviours. This paper investigates how to overcome these two difficulties by considering these issues, developing five principles relating values to influences upon behaviour change, presenting an architecture for design and reporting empirical studies that show the implications for the design of influence technologies. The empirical studies, a diary study and focus group, qualitatively evaluate how people can be influenced in making decisions about energy use behaviours.

 

Methods: Card Sorting; Participatory Design; Design Thinking; Value-Sensitive Design; Usability Studies; Photo Diary Study; Prioritisation Studies.
Our approach was influenced by:  Occupational Therapy Frameworks of Everyday Life; Social Influence; Active User Modelling; Persuasive Technology; Behaviour Change Support Systems; Behaviour Change Theories; System Thinking.

 

Publications

 

Influencing behaviour by modelling user values

2nd International Workshop on Behaviour Change Support Systems, PERSUASIVE 
Rachel Burrows, Peter Johnson, Hilary Johnson

 

Social media systems to influence pro-environmental behaviour

In Proceedings of the Behave Conference, Said Business School, Oxford, UK, University of Bamberg Press 
Rachel Burrows, Hilary Johnson, Peter Johnson

 

Value sensitive design approach to influence energy-use behaviour

Workshop on Fostering Smart Energy Applications, Bamberg, Germany INTERACT Conference 
Rachel Burrows, Peter Johnson, Hilary Johnson 

 

Social media to influence values, attitudes and behaviour (the case of energy usage)

Rachel Burrows, Hilary Johnson, Peter Johnson