Persuasive Computers: Examples, perspectives, and research directions

BJ Fogg, Sun Microsystems, Stanford University

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University May 8, 1998


The study of computers as persuasive technologies ("captology") has developed over the last few years at Stanford. In exploring this domain, I've found that computers can change attitudes and behaviors by functioning in three ways as persuasive tools, media, and social actors (a framework I call the "functional triad"). Various examples of persuasive computing already exist, and many more--both good and bad--will likely emerge as computing technology becomes increasingly pervasive. To be sure, the Internet opens up new possibilities for persuasive technologies, not just by providing information persuasively but also by creating persuasive experiences. To achieve the potentials of persuasive computing and to avoid the pitfalls, I outline key directions for research; this includes an ongoing inquiry into the ethics of persuasive technologies.


BJ Fogg works at Sun Microsystems, where he directs the "Sun Summits on the Future," a series of workshops that explores the implications of a networked work for basic human activities and needs. In addition to his projects at Sun, last fall BJ taught a Stanford HCI course (CS377) on persuasive computing. As a follow-up on the course, he now directs a research group in the analysis, design, and theory of persuasive technologies.

While completing his Ph.D. at Stanford, BJ worked at Interval Research and at HP Labs. At both companies, he researched and designed new types of interactive technologies.


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