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The Design of Eco-Feedback Technology. -CHI 2010-. 1 Computer Science and Engineering (DUB Institute, University of Washington ) 2 The Information School (DUB Institute, University of Washington ). Jon Froehlich 1 Leah Findlater 2 James Landay 1. Outline. Introduction

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The design of eco feedback technology

The Design of Eco-Feedback Technology

-CHI 2010-

1Computer Science and Engineering

(DUB Institute, University of Washington )

2The Information School

(DUB Institute, University of Washington )

Jon Froehlich1

Leah Findlater2

James Landay1


  • Introduction

  • Model of Proenvironmental Behavior

  • Motivating Proenvironmental Behavior

  • Survey of Eco-feedback Technology

  • Conclusion


  • Eco-feedback technology

    • Provides feedback on individual or group behaviors with a goal of reducing environmental impact.

    • proenvironmentalbehaviors

  • FewHCI eco-feedback studies have even attempted to measure behavior change


  • Two overarching questions:

    • (1) what can HCI learn from environmental psychology

    • (2) what role should HCI have in designing and evaluating eco-feedback technology?

  • Bridge the gap

    • Environmental psychology <-> Designs of eco-feedback systems.

Model of proenvironmental behavior
Model of ProenvironmentalBehavior

  • Two views of proenvironmental behavior

    • Rational choice models

    • Norm-activation models

Model of proenvironmental behavior rational choice models
Model of Proenvironmental Behavior - Rational choice models

  • Attitude models

    • Favorable attitudes translate into favorable behaviors

    • Problem: Any number of other factors may also influence behavior

  • Model of responsible environmental behavior

    • Attempts to account for additional factors

    • Emphasize the intention to act as well as situational factors

  • Rational-economic model

    • Act to maximize rewards and minimize costs

Model of proenvironmental behavior norm activation models
Model of ProenvironmentalBehavior – Norm-Activation Models

  • Personal norms are direct determinants

  • Differ from rational-choice models in two important ways:

    • (1) they recognize that behavior may be rooted in altruistic values

    • (2) personal norm activation (e.g., moral obligations)

  • It applies a similar value-based logic to a range of values such as curiosity, personal achievement, and feelings for wildlife.

Model of proenvironmental behavior relating models to eco feedback technology
Model of ProenvironmentalBehavior – Relating Models to Eco-Feedback Technology

  • Subscribing to one model versus another could result in strikingly different choices about the type and presentation of information

  • Example:

Motivating proenvironmental behavior
Motivating ProenvironmentalBehavior

  • Models of proenvironmentalbehavior

    • It is the base of designs

  • Specific strategies for changing behavior

    • Information

    • Goal-setting

    • Comparison

    • Commitment

    • Incentive / Disincentives and Rewards / Penalties

    • Feedback

Motivating proenvironmental behavior1
Motivating ProenvironmentalBehavior

  • Information

    • It must be easy to understand, trusted, presented in a way that attracts attention and is remembered, and delivered as close as possible—in time and place—to the relevant choice

Motivating proenvironmental behavior2
Motivating ProenvironmentalBehavior

  • Goal-setting

    • which operates through a comparison of the present and a desirable future situation

    • Goals affect behavior primarily through four mechanisms:

      • Goals = directive function; attention and effort toward goal

      • High goals often lead to greater effort than low goals

      • Persistence

      • Affect behavior

        • use, apply, and/or learn strategies or knowledge to best accomplish the goal at hand

Motivating proenvironmental behavior3
Motivating ProenvironmentalBehavior

  • Comparison

    • A comparison between individuals or groups can be useful in motivating action

    • Comparison > Performance

    • Social networking sites

      • incorporation of competitions, social comparisons, and public commitments.

Motivating proenvironmental behavior4
Motivating ProenvironmentalBehavior

  • Commitment

    • A commitment is a pledge or promise to behave in a specific way or attain a certain goal

    • The type of commitment a person makes, the person or group to whom the commitment is made, and whether the commitment is public or private

Motivating proenvironmental behavior5
Motivating ProenvironmentalBehavior

  • Incentive / Disincentives and Rewards / Penalties

  • Before the behavior- Incentives and disincentives

  • After the behavior- Rewards and penalties

  • Monetary/ status / convenience / game-like reward elements

Motivating proenvironmental behavior6
Motivating ProenvironmentalBehavior

  • Feedback

    • motivation techniques require some sort of feedback (e.g., goal-setting requires feedback about performance towards a goal)

    • Two forms

      • low-level feedback - explicit detail

        • e.g., the particular problems marked wrong on a math test

      • high-level feedback - summative performance

        • e.g., obtaining an ‘A’ in math class

      • Most effective feedback interfaces

        • multiple feedback options

        • updated frequently, interactive, capable of providing detailed

Motivating proenvironmental behavior7
Motivating ProenvironmentalBehavior

  • Relating Motivation Techniques to Eco-Feedback

  • Each behavior has its own set of contexts and constraints which impact behavior change

  • Eco-feedback designers must think deeply about and study the particular behaviors they hope to change and/or motivate before building their prototypes.

Survey of eco feedback technology
Survey of Eco-feedback Technology

  • Draw upon papers

    • CHI, UbiComp, and Persuasive conferences and related workshops

      • Keywords: “HCI & environment” or “HCI & sustainability”

      • Total 139 Papers

      • less than half of the HCI eco-feedback papers referenced behavioral psychology literature

      • 58% referenced environmental psychology literature

Survey of eco feedback technology1
Survey of Eco-feedback Technology

  • Draw upon papers

    • journals in psychology and sociology

      • Journal of Environmental Psychology, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Social Issues and Journal of Applied Social Psychology

    • 82 papers related to the effects of feedback on environmental behaviors

      • recycling, transportation and home resource consumption (e.g., gas, water, and electricity)

    • most of these studies did not use eco-feedback technology

Survey of eco feedback technology2
Survey of Eco-feedback Technology

Most commonly reported eco-feedback designs in

environmental psychology

The eco-feedback designs in the HCI papers

ambient display

mobile app (home feedback),

proenvironmental behavior tracking social website,

resource eco-feedback in a virtual game

ambient public display

Survey of eco feedback technology3
Survey of Eco-feedback Technology

  • Consumption Targets of Eco-Feedback Technology

    • The most common target

      • residential electricity usage

      • 41% of the papers in HCI and 92% of the papers in environmental psychology.

    • Other targets

      • electricity, water, transportation, carbon tracking

      • garbage and recycling behaviors

      • the environmental impact of product purchases

      • paper usage

Survey of eco feedback technology4
Survey of Eco-feedback Technology

Comparing studies of eco-feedback technology between the environmental psychology literature and the HCI literature.

Survey of eco feedback technology5
Survey of Eco-feedback Technology

  • The design and evaluation of eco-feedback technology differently (HCI and environmental psychology)

    • HCI - feedback designs: understandability, usability, and aesthetic.

    • Environmental psychology - guidelines: how much baseline and intervention data studies need to collect in order to measure behavior change.

  • Both evaluation approaches are valuable, but the disciplines can also learn from each other

Survey of eco feedback technology6
Survey of Eco-feedback Technology

  • Discussion

    • Design implications

    • System development and evaluation

    • Targeting feedback behaviors

    • Learning and feedback

    • Models of behavior change

    • Large-scale commercial deployments


  • We have investigated the ways in which HCI and environmental psychology approach eco-feedback technology research

  • Eco-feedback technology is a particularly ripe area for HCI and UbiComp research because it often requires sensor building, information visualization, and novel interfaces and interactions

  • These are key areas of our expertise. HCI also offers a set of methodologies founded on rapid prototyping, user involvement, and iterative design that allows for design feedback early and often.

  • Eco-feedback technology will soon play a major role in the world. The HCI community should ensure that it is integral in helping shape the role of eco-feedback in the future.