PB434E Half Unit
Behavioural Science in an Age of New Technology
This information is for the 2021/22 session.
Dr Dario Krpan
This course is available on the Executive MSc in Behavioural Science. This course is not available as an outside option.
When psychology and economics got "married", the product was behavioural science. Although this discipline has elevated theoretical and practical understanding of human behaviour to previously unseen heights, recent technological developments have produced new insights in understanding and predicting people's actions that not only supplement traditional tools of behavioural science but also go beyond them. The future of the discipline will therefore likely depend on how effectively behavioural scientists can harness new developments in technology to understand and change the way people act. The aim of this course is to a) Introduce major technological advancements that are relevant for predicting, influencing, and understanding human behaviour; b) outline how they supplement and extend commonly used tools of behavioural change; and c) examine how they can be used to propel behavioural science into the future. The course will tackle behavioural science in relation to motion tracking, virtual environments, social robotics, social networks, and other relevant developments in information technology. Emphasis will be placed on how the technological tools covered throughout the course can be used to change behaviour in applied settings, and students will be encouraged to discuss implications for their organisations and other areas of interest.
15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the ST.
Lecture 1 (1.5h): Course introduction. Understanding minds by reading bodies: Implications of motion tracking for behavioural science 1
Lecture 2 (1.5h): Understanding minds by reading bodies: Implications of motion tracking for behavioural science 2
Seminar 1 (2h)
Lecture 3 (1.5h): Changing behaviour through gamification
Lecture 4 (1.5h): Social robots: Our new friends?
Seminar 2 (2h)
Lecture 5 (1.5h): Behavioural science in virtual worlds
Lecture 6 (1.5h): Behavioural informatics
Seminar 3 (2h)
Lecture 7 (1.5h): Digital footprints and human behaviour
Lecture 8 (1.5h): Psychological targeting in digital age
Seminar 4 (2h)
Lecture 9 (1.5h): Change thyself: Using technology to influence our own behaviour
Lecture 10 (1.5h): The ethics of emerging technologies in the context of behavioural science
Students will be expected to produce 1 presentation in the ST.
Formative coursework will serve as your preparation for the summative assignment. You will need to create a 5 minute presentation on the topic of the summative assignment: Propose an intervention that relies on technological tools that were either covered throughout the course or that you identified through personal search to create behavioural change in an applied setting of your choice (e.g. your organisation, personal life; you can select any setting you desire). In the presentation, you will need to a) Introduce the behaviour you want to tackle and argue why changing this behaviour would be important; b) Present your intervention that uses technological tools to change the behaviour and c) argue why this intervention would be effective based on your knowledge of behavioural science gained through the class material and personal literature search.
Similar to the summative assignment, the presentation will be delivered in a video format: you will be given a clear step-by-step guide describing how to produce the presentation in a video format (we will go through this guide during a seminar to make sure it is clear to everyone how the summative assignment should be produced). The main aim of the formative assignment is for me to evaluate your approach to tackling points a), b), and c) mentioned above so I can give you relevant feedback that will help you when preparing the summative presentation, and also for you to get comfortable with producing the video presentation.
- Krpan, D., & Urbanik, M. (2020). From Libertarian Paternalism to Liberalism: Behavioural Science and Policy in an Age of New Technology.
- Stephen, D. G., Dixon, J. A., & Isenhower, R. W. (2009). Dynamics of representational change: Entropy, action, and cognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 35(6), 1811-1832.
- Matz, S. C., Kosinski, M., Nave, G., & Stillwell, D. J. (2017). Psychological targeting as an effective approach to digital mass persuasion. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences, 114(48), 12714-12719.
- Lanier, M., Waddell, T. F., Elson, M., Tamul, D. J., Ivory, J. D., & Przybylski, A. (2019). Virtual reality check: Statistical power, reported results, and the validity of research on the psychology of virtual reality and immersive environments. Computers in Human Behavior, 100, 70-78.
- Kersten-van Dijk, E. T., Westerink, J. H., Beute, F., & IJsselsteijn, W. A. (2017). Personal informatics, self-insight, and behavior change: A critical review of current literature. Human–Computer Interaction, 32(5-6), 268-296.
- Koivisto, J., & Hamari, J. (2019). The rise of motivational information systems: A review of gamification research. International Journal of Information Management, 45, 191-210.
- Broadbent, E. (2017). Interactions with robots: The truths we reveal about ourselves. Annual Review of Psychology, 68, 627-652.
- Boyd, D. (2016). Untangling research and practice: What Facebook’s “emotional contagion” study teaches us. Research Ethics, 12(1), 4-13.
Presentation (100%) post-summer term.
The aim of the summative assessment will be to propose an intervention that relies on technological tools that were either covered throughout the course or that you identified through personal search to produce behavioural change in an applied setting of your choice (e.g. your organisation, personal life; you can select any setting you desire). This intervention will be conveyed in the form of a 15-20 minute presentation that will count as your summative assignment. More precisely, in the presentation, you will need to a) Introduce the behaviour you want to tackle and argue why changing this behaviour would be important; b) Present your intervention that uses technological tools to change the behaviour and c) argue why this intervention would be effective based on your knowledge of behavioural science gained through the class material and personal literature search.
The presentation will be delivered in a video format: you will be given a clear step-by-step guide describing how to produce the presentation in a video format (we will go through this guide during a seminar to make sure it is clear to everyone how the summative assignment should be produced). Together with the video presentation, you will need to submit an annotated bibliography that contains a) a list of scientific references you used for the presentation; and b) a short text below each reference (1-2 sentences) describing why exactly the reference is important in the context of your presentation. The main purposes of the annotated bibliography will be to demonstrate the academic background upon which your presentation was built.
Course selection videos
Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.
Important information in response to COVID-19
Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.
Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Total students 2020/21: Unavailable
Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable
Controlled access 2020/21: No
Value: Half Unit
Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills
- Application of numeracy skills
- Specialist skills