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Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2011 about Psychology

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Friday 11th March 2011

  • Social Games: Manipulating Your Brain Chemistry, For Good

    by Margaret Wallace, Adam Penenberg, Jason Brown, Brenda Gershkovitch and Michael Fergusson

    Generally speaking, there's an assumption that casual games are a waste of time. What can playing a "meaningless" Facebook game for a few minutes really accomplish, anyways? Do I really need to "rescue" another "sheep"? Another point of view is that they're a little bit sinister, manipulating you into emptying your wallet, or giving up personal information. But perhaps both positions are missing the point. This new genre we call "Casual Social Games" represents a fascinating opportunity to better understand our own behavior, and to direct it, intentionally, for our own benefit, and for the greater good of society.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Friday 11th March

    In Ballroom B, Austin Convention Center

  • Will Your New Technology Win? Ask a Tree

    by Ross Mclean

    Picking the right new technology to bet on and be on is a fundamental challenge in just about any business. But separating the future blockbuster from the flash-in-the-pan early enough in its lifespan to matter often baffles many of the smartest among us.

    This presentation proposes a simple analogy to help us dramatically improve our ability to predict which new technologies are destined to be the next Facebook, and which will be the next Second Life.

    By taking the audience on a historical tour of successes and failures in human technological innovation and filtering the cases through core principles of psychology, anthropology and other social sciences it makes two core points.

    First, it helps us understand why we are often blind to truly great and novel ideas and how we can learn to see them better.

    Second, it lays out a set of simple principles and a shockingly simple core analogy that anyone working in a field that requires getting humans and technology to interact can use every day.

    LEVEL: Advanced

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Friday 11th March

    In Salon H, Hilton Austin Downtown

Saturday 12th March 2011

  • The New Sharing Economy

    by John Zimmer, DoriGraff, Kim Gaskins, Punsri Abeywickrema and Neal Gorenflo

    Not too long ago, we got Zipcar, eBay, and Netflix. We got Prosper and Kiva and Kickstarter. What do they have in common? They ask people to share in one way or another. These days, sharing is an industry thanks largely to new technology. And it's critical to the environment, the economy, and the way we live together as a society.

    It's also an industry that we don't know much about yet. In 2010, Latitude Research and Shareable Magazine conducted the first-ever comprehensive sharing industry to establish benchmarks for awareness and adoption of existing sharing services, as well as sharing attitudes and behaviors relating to everything from information to food to transportation to workspace to travel accommodations.

    The study also sought to understand the new "psychology of sharing". What are the perceived benefits of sharing? What motivates someone to try sharing initially? What are the barriers to sharing, and how do we overcome them? Looking to the future, the study was able to answer what user demands exist, but aren't yet being met, in this new economy of sharing?

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Saturday 12th March

    In Salon K, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Using Twitter to Improve College Student Engagement

    by Rey Junco

    While faculty and staff at higher education institutions have experimented with the use of social media, there has not been a concerted effort to integrate these technologies in educationally-relevant ways. Emerging research in the field of social media, student engagement, and success shows that there are specific ways that these technologies can be used to improve educational outcomes. This presentation will focus on reviewing and translating research on the effects of Twitter on college students into effective and engaging educational practices. Background research on the psychological construct of engagement will be provided and will be linked to engagement in online social spaces.

    In addition to presenting cutting-edge research on how to create engaging and engaged communities, the presenter will review specific ways that Twitter can be used in the classroom and the co-curriculum. The presenter will discuss how academicians can hack existing technologies, specifically Twitter, for educational good and will present the results of his latest research on the effects of Twitter on student engagement and grades.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Saturday 12th March

    In Hill Country AB, Hyatt Regency Austin

  • Bloggers vs. Journalists: It's a Psychological Thing

    by Lisa Williams and Jay Rosen

    I wrote my essay, Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over, in 2005. And it should be over. After all, lots of journalists happily blog, lots of bloggers journalize and everyone is trying to figure out what's sustainable online. But there's something else going on, and I think I've figured out a piece of it: these two Internet types, amateur bloggers and pro journalists, are actually each other's ideal "other."

    A big reason they keep struggling with each other lies at the level of psychology, not in the particulars of the disputes and flare-ups that we continue to see online. The relationship is essentially neurotic, on both sides. Bloggers can't let go of Big Daddy media— the towering figure of the MSM — and still be bloggers. Pro journalists, meanwhile, project fears about the Internet and loss of authority onto the figure of the pajama-wearing blogger. This is a construction of their own and a key part of a whole architecture of denial that has weakened in recent years, but far too slowly.

    The only way we can finally kill this meme--bloggers vs. journalists--and proceed into a brighter and pro-am future for interactive journalism is to go right at the psychological element in it: the denial, the projection, the neuroses, the narcissism, the grandiosity, the rage, the fears of annihilation: the monsters of the id in the newsroom, and the fantasy of toppling the MSM in the blogosphere. That is what my solo presentation will be about: a tale of the Internet, told through types.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Saturday 12th March

    In Capitol A-D, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol

  • The Behavior Change Checklist. Down With Gamefication

    by Aza Raskin

    At the end of 2010, I left my post as Creative Lead for Firefox to found Massive Health on the assumption that a design renaissance could help change people's behavior to make them a bit more healthy. That's rather an assumption. Behavior change is hard. Health is hard. It is yet to be seen if I'm an idiot. With all this talk of gameification, serious games, and social connectivity, what cognitive psychology principals underly all of this hype? What isn't anecdotal? What works? Whether it is health, finance, email, or games, this talk delves into the literature of behavior change to give you a checklist to use in your designs.

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Saturday 12th March

    In Town Lake Ballroom, Radisson Hotel & Suites Austin-Town Lake

    Coverage note

  • Unpacking Gender: Men, Women, Technology and More

    by Debbie Chachra

    Describe someone, friend or stranger. The very first thing you say reveals whether they are a man or a woman. But there's so much packed into these simple designations. Gender affects how we perceive everyone around us and how we express ourselves, often in ways we don't realize. Why do your son and daughter behave differently? Why is technology dominated by men? Why are women so often caregivers? This interactive workshop will use ideas from psychology to investigate these and other gender assumptions. We'll give you tools to understand how you think about gender, along with information that puts that in greater social context. While exploring your own perceptions of men and women, you'll learn about gender schemas and identity threat. We'll discuss how we use micromessaging to communicate our thoughts about gender to other people. Whether you're a hiring manager, a parent, a technologist, or just curious, you'll learn concepts and vocabulary to help understand yourself and our society. Bring a friend, your brain, a notepad (paper or digital), and a willingness to share your experiences with the people around you.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 5:15pm to 5:30pm, Saturday 12th March

    In Ballroom E, Austin Convention Center

Sunday 13th March 2011

  • The Music of Interaction Design

    by James Box and Cennydd Bowles

    While both music and design have theoretical underpinnings, they also share a certain ineffability. A musical masterpiece and an exceptionally crafted experience demand more than the simple application of theory. They also demand virtuosity. Designers must skilfully bring together clicks and gestures — the building blocks of interaction design — to form a meaningful experience. Although it's simple to describe these components, we often resort to vague shorthands like 'look & feel' to explain what happens at the experiential layer. Similarly, composers rely on formalised technique to write music; yet ask what makes a piece remarkable and the answer will be similarly nebulous. In this session, we will examine parallels between music and interaction design, including harmony, genre, rhythm, fashion and emotion. Along the way, we will learn how that which defies easy definition can elevate digital and musical works from good to miraculous.

    1. Why do some interactions and some pieces of music—even when they seemingly 'obey' all the rules—still feel wrong?
    2. What is it about music that provokes such a profound emotional response and how can designers learn from it?
    3. Why, despite all expectations, the overflow of information can actually be a rather lovely experience.
    4. Why does innovation actually feel bad?
    5. And finally, just what is 'The Brown Noise'?

    At 9:30am to 10:30am, Sunday 13th March

    In Ballroom A, Austin Convention Center

  • Re-branding Birth Control: Behavior Change through Design

    by Lawrence Swiader and Jennifer Maer

    There is a significant gap between intentions and outcomes related to pregnancy; young adults say overwhelmingly that while they don’t want to get pregnant right now, they also are not fully protecting themselves from pregnancy by the careful, consistent use of contraception.

    This session is about a program designed to address that gap called Bedsider.

    We’ll talk about why the gap exists and look at established theories of behavior change for ways to approach the problem.

    We’ll denote a knowledge gap but offer that for most people, intentions are good.  Sex is complicated, messy, emotional, and driven by desire.  Yet most keep trying to attack the problem with logic.  They speak like doctors, appeal to reason, and show pictures of smiling people who look like they’re about to buy a car.

    This session will detail how to apply design thinking to the problem and re-frame birth control.  For most, sex education usually comes at the wrong time, in the wrong context, in the wrong voice.  How might a different tone and branding of birth control affect adherence?  And how do you test for it in developing a program? We will address those questions in our session.

    We’ll talk about how Bedsider has to fit in visually and verbally—it can’t look like the health department—and the role that language plays in attacking the excuses to not use birth control.  In this session we’ll also address how to design for feedback in an area where “nothing” is the usual reward.

    LEVEL: Advanced

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Rio, Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown

Monday 14th March 2011

  • Neurons Sparking!: Design with the Brain in Mind!

    by M A Greenstein

    **Are you curious about the new brain game design industry?

    **Have you explored the options of including a neuroscientist on your team of interactive and immersive media designers?

    Today, interactive and immersive media design draws on contemporary neuroscience to leverage the best odds of playing "somatosensory," "memory," "dopamine reward” and “inhibitory control” systems in the human brain and extended nervous system. From animated narrative scripting to skill building brain games or “apps”, functional knowledge of the human brain gives the 21st media designer an edge in working across the spectrum of interactive and immersive game media.

    This session starts with two simple, critical questions: What does neuroscience and cognitive science hold for the future of interactive and immersive media design? How can media designers prepare now for a future where "brain smart" games will be the means by which we learn, play, invent and transform lives through interactive media? Join us and find out.

    LEVEL: Advanced

    At 9:30am to 10:30am, Monday 14th March

    In Salon D, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Understanding Humans: New Psychology and the Social Web

    by Gavin Bell and Jyri Engestrom

    The internet is now social, but the tools and theories we use to understand it are rooted in a pre-social past. Much of the psychology inspired interaction design draws on information processing models from desktop application design. Perfect for shopping carts, not so good for understanding the social web. Newer psychological theories like Activity Theory or Actor Network theory can help us understand our need for tools like Twitter and Facebook. This world of post-cognitive theories understand social relationship and move beyond the simple world of goal directed tasks with neat closure. The social object is a great framing device for current applications, but Activity Theory has more to offer us. Every act is social in nature. Using this as a starting point this talk will explore how relationships form and how our interactions with each other on the internet form part of our wider experience. Learn how to pick the key objects and actions for your application. Understand the important social aspects of the interactions you support and how privacy affects these exchanges. The coming distributed social web are based on social objects, activity streams plus much protocol glue to connect them. These post cognitive theories are the framework from which they were derived, but there is much more to them that you can apply to your own projects.

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Monday 14th March

    In Rio Grande A, Marriott Courtyard Austin Downtown/Convention Center

Tuesday 15th March 2011

  • Engineering vs. Psychology in Social Media: A Conversation

    by Stephanie Dub and Jesper Andersen

    As we continue to embrace all forms of social media, we unwittingly allow privacy settings and engineered functionality dictate the evolution and devolution of our relationships. We're beginning to see a new model of relational progression that is constructed by the levels of 'friendship' or 'following' allowed on sites, not necessarily what is psychologically beneficial.

    With establishing social sites in an industry where success and product value are measured by data sets, user base growth, and scalability comes an ever growing ignorance of the distinction between building a successful service using computers and building a successful model of relationships.

    Is it possible that the immediately fulfilling and addicting satisfaction of social media site use conceals the concept that the rules, metrics, and system preferences which define the world of tech and internet are not necessarily the ones that should be defining our relationships?

    This presentation will take a look at the differences between psychological relational progression and the new world of engineering defined relationships. We will discuss the nuances and experiences that are important to relationships and how they integrate, or don't, with the informal new relationship model that social technology is creating. We'll then discuss how we foresee coming back to a middle ground between socially engineered and naturally occurring relational experiences.

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 9:30am to 10:30am, Tuesday 15th March

    In TX Ballroom 1, Hyatt Regency Austin

  • Long After the Thrill: Sustaining Passionate Users

    by Stephen Anderson

    Suffering from "game fatigue" yet? While many sites have slapped on badges and points to make things more engaging, the companies that "get it" have a better understanding of the psychology behind motivation. They know how to design sites that keep people coming back again and again.

    So what are the secrets? What actually motivates people online? How do you create sustained interest in your product or service? We'll look at everything from game design to learning theories to neuroscience to understand what motivates--and demotivates--people over the long haul.

    NOTE: This is a follow-up to the 2010 SXSW presentation "Seductive Interactions" where I focused primarily on initial engagement. Where that presentation discussed "getting to first base" with our users, this one looks much farther out at how to create "lifelong love and devotion."

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 9:30am to 10:30am, Tuesday 15th March

    In Ballroom A, Austin Convention Center

    Coverage slide deck

  • Unwritten Rules: Brands, Social Psychology and Social Media

    by Kate Canales and Ben McAllister

    When a friend invites you to dinner, you bring wine or flowers – not $100 cash – as a gesture of thanks. That goes without saying. But if a brand comes to dinner, what should they bring? When it comes to social media, there are unwritten rules for how to behave that many brands simply aren't getting.

    Brands are grappling with social media as they try to find a place at our virtual dinner table. Some brands get it, some gaffe it. The rules, it turns out, are hidden in basic social psychology. The established behaviors of friendship are the prevailing rules of the road in social media: sharing valuable information, entertaining one another, support in a crisis, celebration of a personal achievement. But the established behaviors of transactions (the way we historically interact with brands) can feel awkward and forced in social media. So how can brands build trust with their networks while being social like a friend? This session will look at social media behavior and what brands can do to become a delightful guest and valuable contributor at our virtual dinner party.

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 9:30am to 10:30am, Tuesday 15th March

    In Ballroom F, Austin Convention Center