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Motivationally framed Facebook applications

Kidago website screen shot
This large set of projects set out to reduce and shift energy use through media (interaction design, social networking, games and feedback interfaces); incentives (behavioral economic programs); and community groups (schools, utility and social organizations).
Affective, Cognitive, and Social Facebook Applications

This project collected data to drive hypotheses rather than vice versa, and explored peoples’ motivations for engaging with their energy use.  The applications developed were based on three key motivations for energy engagement: affective, cognitive and social. Kidogo, the affective app, connected energy savings to financial contributions to issues other than energy that the consumer might be more emotional about, such as global poverty.  Power Bar, the cognitive app, was designed for people who are motivated by data about their home’s energy expenditure, coupled with goal setting for energy savings and feedback regarding whether the target is likely to be met. PowerTower, the social app, is a competitive game in which individuals and teams are rewarded for saving energy.

Kidogo, Powerbar, and PowerTower website screen shots

Among the findings:

  • When consumers were asked about energy in the initial ethnographic study, top responses were: “Comfort, convenience and peer comparison are important to us and our family”; “Our family deserves the best”; “Our family believes in volunteerism and public service”; “We try to model our values for our children”; and, “We are not sure how our small energy reduction efforts help the environment.”
  • With Kidogo, research found that sad (rather than happy) images of humans (rather than animals) were most effective.
  • In Power Bar, graphs (rather than line or radial graphs) displaying either a single day of information or a comparison of two days were most liked and understood.
  • In both Kidogo and Power Bar, individual positive affect motivation was associated with higher behavior intentions and self-efficacy.
  • Kidogo showed marginally significant greater behavior changes on easy behaviors and both Kidogo and PowerTower were rated higher than a utility control.
  • In Power Bar and PowerTower, researchers found no effects of affiliation or cognifitive orientation, while behavior change intention was not significantly different among the three applications.

Publications and Presentations

Motivators of energy reduction behavioral intentions: Influences of technology, personality characteristics, perceptions and behavioral barriers
in: Marcus A. (eds) Design, User Experience and Usability: Design Discourse Springer pp 435-446
Flora, J., Banerjee, B. (2014)

Energy graph feedback: Attention, cognition and behavior intentions
in: Marcus A. (eds)  Design, User Experience and Usability: Design Discourse Springer pp 520-529
Flora, J., Banerjee, B. (2014)

Engaging the human in the design of residential energy reduction applications
International Conference on Collaboration Technologies & Systems
Flora, J., Sahoo, A., Scalmanini, A., Liptsey-Rahe, A., Stehly, S., Wong, B., Banerjee, B. (2012)

Future Work

Given the weak results of association of individual orientation to application type, researchers are examining the role of choice in application selection using a randomized controlled experiment. Their randomized experimental design has two levels. Participants are randomly assigned to an assigned or a choice condition.  In the assigned condition, participants are randomly assigned to one of the three applications. In the choice condition, participants choose which app they want to use (based on a short description of the application) to view their energy information.

The work has implications for the practical scalability of energy applications.  When confronted with three applications, utilities, energy service providers or non-profits or other potential adopting organizations typically would choose one application.  Yet, the applications in this project were conceptualized as a motivational frame map, where users can be matched or choose how they want to engage with and change their behavior.  Thus, a test of these applied options will provide valuable information for adopting organizations and researchers aiming to use the applications as motivational frame prototypes.  This test will have significant implications for best practices in the creation and deployment of energy reduction applications.