Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Assignment 1 - Persuasive Technology

Cognition Process

Cognition is a term referring to the mental processes involved in gaining knowledge and comprehension. These processes include thinking, knowing, remembering, judging and problem-solving. These are higher-level functions of the brain and encompass language, imagination, perception, and planning. The processes are analyzed from different perspectives within different contexts, notably in the fields of linguistics, anesthesia, neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, 

These and other different approaches to the analysis of cognition are synthesized in the developing field of cognitive science, a progressively autonomous academic discipline. Within psychology and philosophy, the concept of cognition is closely related to abstract concepts such as mind and intelligence. It encompasses the mental functions, mental processes (thoughts), and states of intelligent entities (humans, collaborative groups, human organizations, highly autonomous machines, and artificial intelligence).

Thus, the term's usage varies across disciplines; for example, in psychology and cognitive science, "cognition" usually refers to an information processing view of an individual's psychological functions. It is also used in a branch of social psychology called social cognition to explain attitudes, attribution, and group dynamics. In cognitive psychology and cognitive engineering, cognition is typically assumed to be information processing in a participant’s or operator’s mind or brain.  Cognition can in some specific and abstract sense also be artificial.  Cognition process is said to involve three main processes which are attention, perception, and memory.

Cognition Process: Attention

Attention is selecting things to concentrate on at a point in time from the mass of stimuli around us. It allows us to focus on information that is relevant to what we are doing. Not only that, it also involves audio and/or visual senses. Focused and divided attention enables us to be selective in terms of the mass of competing stimuli but limits our ability to keep track of all events. Attention is the limited capacity of working memory restricts the amount of information we can take in and process at a time. The brain actively focuses on and then concentrates on a certain kind of information. With practice, some kinds of information require little to no effort (automatic) in becoming the focus of attention.
How does attention is applied on a design of a technology? A design definitely needs attention attracting elements in order for the user to stay focused into completing their tasks.
One way to attract user’s attention is to make information salient when it needs attending to. Other than that, use techniques that make things stand out like color, ordering, spacing, underlining, sequencing, and animation. Besides, avoid cluttering the interface with too much information. Users will be confused on where to put their attention to. Furthermore, search engines and form fill-ins that have simple and clean interfaces are easier to use.

Cognition Process: Perception

Perception is how information is acquired from the world and transformed into experiences. Using our eyes, we see information and acquire them so that we can apply it into our daily lives.  Applying perception into design of technology is to design representations that are readily perceivable. For example, Text should be legible, readable, clear and accordingly sized. Other than that, icons should be easy to distinguish and read. Another example is, a website for instance, should be well colored and attractive.

Cognition Process: Memory

Memory involves first encoding and then retrieving knowledge. We don’t remember everything we see, read or hear. Memory involves filtering and processing what is attended to. Context is important in affecting our memory. Information such as when, where, how, who, which and why can help us to store useful information. We recognize things much better than being able to recall things. According to Henkel, we remember less about objects we have photographed than when we observe them with the naked eye.

Persuasive Technology

Persuasive Technology (PT) is a vibrant interdisciplinary research field, focusing on the design, development and evaluation of interactive technologies aimed at changing users’ attitudes or behaviors through persuasion and social influence, but not through coercion or deception. Persuasive technologies are used to change people’s behavior in various domains such as healthcare, sustainability, education or marketing.

Persuasive Technology has been a very successful tool to motivate and move people into doing what they should do. It creates a discipline where users are moved and guided to do something they want to. These technologies are so easily available that they are now on mobile devices, tablets and IPad. They can be carried together with users anytime.

We have chosen one persuasive technology, which is a website known as SparkPeople. It is a website for people whom are interested into leading a healthy lifestyle. It is a diet and foot tracker as well as exercise tracker, used by people to track the amount of calories they have consumed, amount of water they have drunk and the duration of exercise. Not only that, this application will provide daily recommended calorie suggestion and health advices for free. This application is very useful to persuade people into leading a healthy lifestyle while keeping the track of their nutrition and fitness.

First Impression and Cognition Process

SparkPeople application is a mobile based application. The cognition process involved while we tried using the app is perception and attention. The front page of the app had attractive pictures of food and easily understood words and icons. Other than that, it is colored in a very attentive way which captured our attention to use the app. The front page had options for us to sign up with email or Facebook account, which made it easier and faster to use the app. Other than that, icons are easily recognizable and some words are highlighted to create attention. It has less words and more symbols that is easily understood, learnt and easy to remember. 

Figure 1/2/3: Front Pages of SparkPeople

Fogg Behaviour Model

Fogg Behavior Model (FBM), behavior is a product of three factors: motivation, ability, and triggers, each of which has subcomponents. The FBM asserts that for a person to perform a target behavior, he or she must be sufficiently motivated, have the ability to perform the behavior, and be triggered to perform the behavior. These three factors must occur at the same moment; else the behavior will not happen. The FBM is useful in analysis and design of persuasive technologies. The FBM also helps teams work together efficiently because this model gives people a shared way of thinking about behavior change.

                                        Figure 4: Fogg Behavior Model

Fogg Behaviour Model: Trigger

SparkPeople sends notifications on user’s mobile every day at a specific time, prompting users to log in their food and water intake. This can trigger the user to log in and track their food in case they have forgotten to do so. Other than that, it can trigger users to stay on track with their diet plan by providing daily coaching tips. We can even set the time when we should get the notifications. It’s easy and convenient to use.

Figure 5: Notifications

Fogg Behaviour Model: Motivation

SparkPeople gives users motivation to lead users into healthy lifestyles or into achieving their ideal weight goals. This app provides daily coaching tips as well as articles related to nutrition and fitness. When users read the successful weight loss experiences and stories, they become more motivated to lose weight as well as to well utilize the app to achieve their aim. 

Figure 6/7: Coaching Centre

Fogg Behaviour Model: Ability

In order to perform a target behavior, a person must have the ability to do so. SparkPeople is a very simple app that is easy to use. Users have the ability to use the app without facing any difficulty. It has a home button where we can hover to other parts of the app. It does not have any difficult to understand symbols or words. Smart phone users have prior experience of using icons and thus can be familiarized with this app easily.

Figure 8: Home menu


SparkPeople has successfully persuaded users to track their nutrition and fitness details and many people have sent testimonies about their journey of weight loss with this app. This app can be downloaded for free from Google App Store for Android users. Easy to use and convenient, SparkPeople has successfully served its purpose as a diet and nutrition app and is rated as one of the most download diet and fitness app by Google Play Services and has received a high rating from users.


1.     Verywell Psychology, <>
2.     Cognition, <>
3.     Memory and Attention, <>
4.     Persuasive Technology, <>
5.     Free Diet Plans,<>

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