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Motivating Sustainable Behavior Changes with a virtual polar bear. StepGreen Users Want Better Feedback, Comparisons and Competition with Peers Tawanna Dillahunt Geof Becker. High Level Motivation. Environmental degradation threatens human and animal life

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motivating sustainable behavior changes with a virtual polar bear

Motivating Sustainable Behavior Changes with a virtual polar bear

StepGreen Users Want Better Feedback, Comparisons and Competition with Peers

Tawanna Dillahunt

Geof Becker

high level motivation
High Level Motivation
  • Environmental degradation threatens human and animal life
  • Energy use major source of degradation [1]
    • Personal choices dictate up to 40 % of energy consumption [1]
  • StepGreen website encourages committing to actions that lower personal energy use [2]
    • Looking to increase participation on the site by responding to user feedback given after first field deployment of site
      • Better visualization/feedback tool
      • Ability to compare progress
      • Competition

[1] U.S. Department of Energy (2006) Annual Energy Review 2005. Energy Information Administration, Washington, DC DOE/EIA-0384

[2] StepGreen website: www.stepgreen.org

research question how do we motivate sustainable behavior and increase participation
Research Question: How do we motivate sustainable behavior (and increase participation)?

Before

  • In the past, attention was given to two motivations: providing material incentives and disincentives sufficient to make the behavior worth attending to and focusing on the altruistic reasons for engaging in the behavior [2]
    • This lacked durability, or long term effects and reliability

Goal setting

  • Delay of gratification major obstacle to achieving goals [1]
    • Example: Shorter showers help climate too vague to motivate behavior change
    • Mental construct of goal improves ability to delay gratification [1]

Emotional Attachment

  • Mental motives will be more effective when the behaviors which seek to promote the motive goes to the core of a person’s needs or concerns [1]
  • Some ways to elicit attachment (via pets) [3]:
    • Development
    • Interaction
  • Games
    • ESP example from class (Luis von Ahn and Laura Dabbish’s work)

1. “Goal Effects on Action and Cognition,” Gollwitzer and Moskowitz (1996)

2. “Expanding and Evaluating Motives for Environmentally Responsible Behavior”, De Young (2000)

3. Nurturing “Artificial Pets: Simple Behaviors Elicit Complex Attachments”, Judith Donath

our approach
Our approach

Interaction with a “Tamagotchi-like game” (virtual polar bear):

  • Helps “Delay of gratification” by aiding mental construct
  • The motive goes to the core of a person’s needs or concerns
    • Make the polar bear more personal to the owner
  • Motivates their sustained commitment to energy-saving choices (goal setting)
  • Games motivate activity
  • Reactions of animated bear made immediate and visible long-term effects of behavior

Addresses high level goals

  • Keeps users interested and contributing to StepGreen site
  • Encourages new and sustained commitments or goals
  • Satisfies user desires for comparison and competition
hypotheses
Hypotheses
  • H1: Users who form emotional attachment to Tamagotchi character will commit to more environmentally-responsible actions than users who do not form bonds
  • H2: Users who develop bonds to Tamagotchi will sustain their commitments
  • H3: Users who develop bonds will donate more to zoo than control group
experiment design
Experiment Design
  • Between subject design with two groups:
    • Attachment group
    • Control group
  • Independent Variables
    • Environmental story given to participants
      • Control group receives regular story of environmental sustainability and do not respond
      • Attachment group receives more “personal” story and must respond to the story about how it makes them feel
        • “increasing numbers of polar bears are drowning before they can reach a new ice floe.” “Climate change also threatens the polar bear’s ability to reproduce. “ “May become extinct”
    • Whether or not they are able to name their bear
      • Control group not told to give their bear a name
      • Attachment group told to give their bear a name
  • Dependent Variables
    • Number of actions committed to
    • Amount of $ pledged, or donated to the zoo
    • Number of sustained commitments after 1 week
  • Systematically assign population to one of the two groups
experiment
Experiment
  • Conducted lab study of the experiment
    • Participants given a set of instructions and link to the site.
  • Post Experiment
    • All participants given shower timer
    • All participants told they will be contacted twice within the next week
  • Participants contacted two days later:
    • Asked if they would like to pledge a donation
      • those that made the pledge were sent pre-addressed, stamped envelope for their donation)
  • Participants contacted one week later:
    • Asked to confirm whether or not they made their commitments
population sampled
Population Sampled
  • 20 Subjects Total, 1 excluded from final data so 19 total
    • 9 Attachment; 10 Control
    • Systematic Sampling
  • 95% students overall
    • 75% made less than $20,000 last year
    • 75% rent
    • 20% live on campus
  • Gender:
    • 60% Male
    • 40% Female
  • Age:
    • 65% 21-25
    • 20% 18-20
    • 5% 31-40
    • 5% 51-60
  • Ethnicity:
    • 60% Asian
    • 35% White
summary of results
Summary of Results

Attachment group committed to more actions than Control group

  • Attachment (M=13), Control (M=12.1)
  • Statistically insignificant effect: F[1,19]=1.39, p>0.05
summary of results10
Summary of Results

Attachment group made more pledges than Control group

  • Attachment (M=2.5), Control (M=2.0)
  • Statistically insignificant
summary of results11
Summary of Results

Attachment group made more of their commitments than Control group

  • Attachment (M=11.3, SD=.67), Control (M=8.8, SD=.73)
  • Statistically significant effect: F[1,11]=6.527, p<.0309*
shower timer results pre experiment
Shower Timer Results – Pre Experiment
  • Initial Shower Statistics:
    • 80% of population sampled take showers only
      • 45% take showers 10 minutes or longer
      • 20% take showers 6-8 minutes
      • 30% take showers 4-6 minutes
      • 5% take showers in less than 3 minutes
    • 15% take both showers and baths
    • 5% take baths only
shower timer results post experiment
Shower Timer Results – Post Experiment
  • Final Statistics:
    • 11 were able to be contacted
    • 54.5% were part of the attachment group
      • 100% installed the shower timer
      • 100% made commitments to reduce shower time to <5min
      • 80% reduced their shower time to <5 min
        • One participant's shower timer had a defect - “timer stops at about 3 minutes”
    • 45.5% were part of the control group
      • 40% committed to reduce shower time to <5 min
        • One set up the timer but didn’t make commitment to shorten
      • 0% reduced their time to <5 minutes but 1 participant (20%) stated that she able to reduce her overall time. was
other observations
Other Observations
  • Pre and post survey (still looking into this analysis):
    • Treatment group more environmentally sensitive, which makes sense
    • But control less environmentally concerned
findings
Findings

Field-test experiment (longer study)

Increase sample size might yield statistically significant results

Increase number of conditions

  • Bear – Attachment story
  • Bear – Control Story
  • Bear – No story
  • No Bear – No Story

Better manipulation

  • Customizable characters

Further analysis of data

  • Correlations between actions, correlations in environmental concerns between Asians and whites
looking into the future
Looking into the future
  • Consider running similar tests with mobile applications
  • Consider StepGreen users’ desire for tools to facilitate comparison and competition
  • Consider changing the name so that it is not a “game”
    • “If we think of them as games, the time spent playing with them is entertainment and somewhat self-indulgent; if we think of them as animals, time spent playing with them is care-taking, an act of responsibility and altruism,” “Artificial Pets”, Judith Donath
thank you
Thank you!
  • Bob Kraut & Jason Hong
    • Experiment design and data analysis
  • Social Web class feedback
  • Jen Mankoff, Sue Fussell
    • StepGreen advisors
  • Jared Cole
    • Polar Bear Design
  • Spencer Ying and folks from Fine Arts
    • Flash help
slide21
Describe your interaction with the polar bear. Please describe whether or not it had an influence on your thoughts of energy conservation.

Control Group:

  • Yes.. made me realize the importance of energy conservation
  • I guess I have always been careful about walking or taking the public transport whenever I can, not wasting water, electricity and the works. I guess the interaction made me feel that I shouldn't forget to switch off lights etc which I do once in a blue moon.
  • No it didn't, because I read a book about global warming and it had lots of research in it that disproved the extent of global warming.
  • it made me feel guilty for not commiting to all the listed actions.
  • It has effect on me. I usually care about the enery conservation but the polar bear aspect made me more aware with the situation.
  • strengthened my goals to try to become personally more environmentally friendly.
  • Yes this interaction did enhance my awareness of how energy conservation could bring fortune to other species
  • No, but he was cute
  • it had no effect on me. i was basing my actions on whether i could actually follow through with them or not
  • My interaction with the polar bear put a face on global warming. We always hear about the shrinking ice caps and threat of cities being under water, but we rarely hear of the current effect on wildlife.The interaction with the polar bear had an impact, making me more aware of some things I can do to conserve.
slide22
Describe your interaction with the polar bear. Please describe whether or not it had an influence on your thoughts of energy conservation.
  • Attachment:
    • It had an influence on me on showing the current state of polar bears
    • Yes, it had an influence.
    • It made me think twice about whether I want to not commit to an action
    • it does make me realise that little steps taken can make a huge difference
    • The bear had no influence on my thoughts.
    • No. I strongly believe in energy conservation anyways.
    • Yes, it sure did. I already do conserve a lot of energy, but shall try to conserve some more
    • definitely it had a great impact on me
    • I tried to make choices that I would be willing to do and that would save the polar bear. I didn't know that turning off a light if I am leaving the room for 10 minutes or more would save that much energy so my thoughts on energy conservation have changed. I didn't realize there were so many little things you could do to conserve energy.
what was the final state of your polar bear how does this make you feel
What was the final state of your polar bear? How does this make you feel?
  • ID0: My polar bear was content at the end of it all. This makes me feel good inside, thinking simple tasks which I anyways do are actually making a difference out there.
  • 1: was safe on the land and almost close to the shore
  • id02: he was happy because his ice floe did not melt as much as it could have.
  • 3*: worried. this made me worried
  • 4: Polar bear was content with large ice floe down. He is happy
  • 5*: Content. content as well. happy that i did something for him.
  • 6*: Polar Bear is much more safe than it was before. Less chance of becoming extinct7: content
  • 8*: he was kind of big and had a decent space of ice to live on. this made me very happy.
  • 9*: content. This indicated to me that I made some improvement in the size of the floating ice patches. It taught me that committing to a few simple tasks can really make an impact to combat global warming.
what was the final state of your polar bear how does this make you feel24
What was the final state of your polar bear? How does this make you feel?
  • 10*: It could reach the other end of the arctic for food.
  • 11*: content
  • 12: Still some ice to walk on. Not ideal but still comfortable fopr Anthony.
  • 13*: the bear was content.It makes me feel happy and responsible
  • 14*: content. This makes me feel good, if he is content he is not angry and dying.
  • 15: The polar bear was much better off for us protecting the environment.
  • 16: Content. I'm happy I could do my part for the Polar Bears and the world17*: excited
  • 19: He was happy. This made me happy to see him have a bigger ice block to stand on and live.
research how to achieve goals
Delay of gratification major obstacle to achieving goals – “Goal Effects on Action and Cognition,” Gollwitzer and Moskowitz (1996)

Example: Shorter showers help climate too vague to motivate behavior change

Mental construct of goal improves ability to delay gratification (Gollwitzer and Moskowitz)

Games motivate activity

Use Tamagotchi to help “Delay of gratification” by aiding mental construct

Reactions of animated bear made immediate and visible long-term effects of behavior

RESEARCH:How to Achieve Goals
results
Results

H1: Total # Actions committed by Control and Attachment Groups

H2,3: Mean # Actions Taken and $ Donated within Control and Attachment Groups

number of actions committed taken and donated
Number of Actions Committed, Taken, and $ Donated

H2,3: Mean # Actions Taken and $ Donated within Control and Attachment Groups

H1: Total # Actions committed by Control and Attachment Groups