The main goal of the Tickle project is to reactivate youngsters who are experiencing school burnout in order to prevent school dropout or remediate it is effects.The research team aims to use modern technologies and the popularity of digital media to accomplish this goal. After all, prior research has clearly indicated that these technologies and media forms provide many opportunities for children, youngsters and adults to participate in culture and to engage in spontaneous learning processes (see Vlieghe, 2014). People who participate frequently in these learning processes often experience a positive effect in terms of self-confidence and the intrinsic motivation to engage in life-long learning. In previous reports, we have pointed out that this boost in confidence and intrinsic motivation can have a positive influence on the reduction of school burnout and ESL (see Vlieghe & De Troyer, 2016a). In this report, we focus on the methods that can be applied to persuade youngsters to become actively engage in learning processes through the use of digital technology. We discuss the effectiveness and impact of persuasive technologies, both from a theoretical perspective and an empirical perspective. In addition, we also consider the ethical pitfalls and best practices in terms of design strategies related to persuasive technology.

From a theoretical perspective, it is clear that inducing, supporting and maintaining behavioural change through the use of persuasive technology should be regarded as an iterative process. This process can build on wide variety of persuasive techniques that mainly utilise people’s desire for psychological, social and material wellbeing. Each of the techniques has a number of distinct advantages that make them highly effective. Empirical research shows that successful persuasive technologies have a clear impact on users’ perceptions regarding the technology itself, their motivation to adopt and maintain new behaviour, and their ability to reflect on current and desired behavioural patterns. At the same time, effective persuasive techniques can also introduce serious ethical dilemmas for designers involving issues such as intrusion, surveillance, manipulation, deception and coercion. Many ethical problems can be avoided or remediated by applying proper design strategies. These strategies can include enabling control and reflection, ensuring unobtrusive operating of the technology, and the implementation of an appropriate system for positive reinforcement.

Though research on persuasive technology is still rather scarce – particularly when it comes to long-term naturalistic studies – the findings discussed in this report provide a promising basis for future development. Designers can build on the these findings to create effective and ethically sound persuasive technologies that support people in their attempts to initiate, commit to and maintain behavioural changes.

Download the report free of charge via this hyperlink: Report D3: Literature study on Persuasive Techniques and Technology.