Transforming Sociotech Design



We are social beings by nature, and have been for ages. Today, technologies enable new ways to shrink the world by bringing us closer together. While these innovations often serve as media channels, they can also be purposefully designed to transform our lives.


Prof. Agnis Stibe

Transforming Sociotech Design @ MIT Media Lab





Persuasive Cities research aims at advancing urban spaces to facilitate societal changes. According to social sciences, any well-designed environment can become a strong influencer of what people think and do. There is an endlessly dynamic interaction between a person, a particular behavior, and an environment in which that behavior is performed. This knowledge enables engineering of persuasive environments and interventions for altering human behavior at scale. This research is primarily focused on socially engaging places for supporting entrepreneurship and innovation, reshaping routines and behavioral patterns in urban spaces, deploying intelligent outdoor sensing for shifting mobility modes, enhancing environmentally friendly behaviors through social norms, introducing interactive public feedback channels to alter attitudes at scale, engaging residents through socially influencing systems, exploring methods for designing persuasive neighborhoods, testing agent-based models and simulations of behavioral interventions, and fostering adoption of novel urban systems.

Future cities will reshape human behavior in countless ways. Persuasive urban systems will play an important role in making cities more livable and resource-efficient by addressing current environmental problems and enabling healthier routines. In the future cities, good urban and building design (to encourage walking, biking, stair-use, etc.) will be combined with socially influencing systems to encourage healthy and sustainable behaviors at scale. The quality of life and the health of the individual and communities will be improved through the design and creation of persuasive cities, streets, buildings, homes, and vehicles.

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Socially Influencing Systems for Behavior Change



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Organizations continuously strive to engage customers in the services development process.

The social web facilitates this process by enabling novel channels for voluntary feedback sharing and collaborative interaction through social media and technologically advanced environments.

The component parts of these environments are information systems that are linked with social media and designed for large displays to support interactivity.



Information systems can facilitate social influence when augmented with relevant persuasive design principles.

People can experience social influence not only from others around them, but likewise through information systems that are equipped with persuasive design principles.

An information system becomes socially influencing when it is enriched with social influence design principles to facilitate changes in behaviors and attitudes of its users.



Research results reveal interplay between the design principles and indicate that they have the capacity to improve the persuasiveness of information systems and predict the behavioral intentions of users to engage with such systems in the future.

This framework is potentially instrumental in achieving a richer understanding of how to effectively harness social influence for enhanced user engagement through socio-technical environments and for the future development of persuasive information systems.