Design For Behavior Change Reflection

Design For Behavior Change has been an immensely rewarding experience this past quarter. While learning about ways to best design to change people's behavior, I have learned to question and analyze my own product designing behavior too! Before this class, I thought that design was straightforward and formulaic - follow the 5 steps of the now infamous d. school method, empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test (with a few loops in between). I know realize how naive that belief was, and how nuanced design is. Design is in essence human-centered, so it must be complex. Sure, designing Flappy Bird is hard, but designing to change someone's behavior? That's a whole other beast. One lens we looked at this was through ethics. While ethics is often discussed (though admittedly not nearly enough) in CS classes, it often felt like a checkbox to tick. We would often talk about ethics of AI or big tech companies, but never dive deep into the exact ways they might violate people's rights. This is exactly what this class did, though, looking at different types of nudges and classifying manipulation, while also talking about intent and responsibility of more powerful bodies. With any design, it's impossible to not make a choice; there is always a default. Someone has to decide whether to make the "do not allow" button smaller, or harder to reach. I hope that in the future, I could make more conscious decisions of app design while checking over ethics principles. I hope that in the future, I could have a more nuanced understanding of ethics of behavior change, but I think the list of principles is a good place to start.