Persuasive Backfiring: When Behavior Change Interventions Trigger Unintended Negative Outcomes

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9638)

Abstract

Numerous scholars study how to design evidence-based interventions that can improve the lives of individuals, in a way that also brings social benefits. However, within the behavioral sciences in general, and the persuasive technology field specifically, scholars rarely focus-on, or report the negative outcomes of behavior change interventions, and possibly fewer report a special type of negative outcome, a backfire. This paper has been authored to start a wider discussion within the scientific community on intervention backfiring. Within this paper, we provide tools to aid academics in the study of persuasive backfiring, present a taxonomy of backfiring causes, and provide an analytical framework containing the intention-outcome and likelihood-severity matrices. To increase knowledge on how to mitigate the negative impact of intervention backfiring, we discuss research and practitioner implications.

Keywords

Backfire Taxonomy Behavior change Intention-outcome matrix Likelihood-severity matrix Persuasive technology Intervention design 

References

  1. 1.
    Andreasen, A.: Social marketing in the 21st century. Sage Publications Inc, Thousand Oaks (2006)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bartholomew, L.K., Parcel, G.S., Kok, G., Gottlieb, N.H.: Planning health promotion programs: an intervention mapping approach. Wiley, San Francisco (2011)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Beer, M., Eisenstat, R.A., Spector, B.: Why change programs don’t produce change (1990)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Beshears, J., Choi, J.J., Laibson, D., Madrian, B.C., Milkman, K.L.: The effect of providing peer information on retirement savings decisions. J. Finan. 70(3), 1161–1201 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
  6. 6.
    Charmaz, K.: Constructing grounded theory. Sage, Thousand Oaks (2014)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Chatterjee, S., Price, A.: Healthy living with persuasive technologies: Framework, is- sues, and challenges. J. Am. Med. Inf. Assoc. 16(2), 171–178 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Crano, W.D., Burgoon, M., Oskamp, S. (eds.): Mass media and drug prevention: Classic and contemporary theories and research. Psychology Press, Mahwah (2001)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cugelman, B., Thelwall, M., Dawes, P.: Online interventions for social marketing health behavior change campaigns: A meta-analysis of psychological architectures and adherence factors. J. Med. Internet Res. 13(1), e17 (2011). http://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.1367 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cunningham, J.A., Wild, T.C., Cordingley, J., Van Mierlo, T., Humphreys, K.: A randomized controlled trial of an internet-based intervention for alcohol abusers. Addiction 104(12), 2023–2032 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Curtis, P.: Anti-bullying wristband scheme backfires (2004). http://www.theguardian.com/education/2004/dec/08/schools.uk2
  12. 12.
    Davidson, K., Goldstein, M., Kaplan, R., Kaufmann, P., Knatterud, G., Orleans, C., Whitlock, E.: Evidence-based behavioral medicine: What is it and how do we achieve it? Ann. Behav. Med. 26(3), 161–171 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Embry, D., Biglan, A.: Evidence-based kernels: Fundamental units of behavioral influence. Clin. Child Family Psychol. Rev. 11(3), 75 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Farvolden, P., Denisoff, E., Selby, P., Bagby, R.M., Rudy, L.: Usage and longitudinal effectiveness of a Web-based self-help cognitive behavioral therapy program for panic disorder. J. Med. Int. Res. 7(1), e7 (2005). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1550639/ Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Fogg, B.J.: Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do. Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco (2003)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Fraser, J.: Anti-smoking ads cleverly boost smoking among teens (2006). http://www.naturalnews.com/020996.html
  17. 17.
    Glaser, B.G., Strauss, A.L.: The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Transaction Publishers, New Jersey (2009)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Graham, J.: Father leaves nine children at Nebraska hospital (2008). http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/triage/2008/09/father-leaves-n.html
  19. 19.
    Hastings, G.: Social marketing: why should the devil have all the best tunes?. Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford (2007)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Healey, B., Zimmerman, R.S.: The new world of health promotion: New program development, implementation, and evaluation. Jones & Bartlett Learning, Sudbury (2009)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Hinkley, K.: 5 Ridiculous Anti-Drugs Posters (2014). http://www.talkingdrugs.org/5-anti-drugs-campaigns
  22. 22.
    Holpuch, A.: Truvada has been called the ‘miracle’ HIV pill–so why is uptake so slow (2014). http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/18/truvada-mircle-pill-prevent-hiv-controversy
  23. 23.
    Kietzmann, J.H., Hermkens, K., McCarthy, I.P., Silvestre, B.S.: Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media. Bus. Horiz. 54(3), 241–251 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kirkland, A., Metzl, J.M. (eds.): Against health: How health became the new morality. NYU Press, New York (2010)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kotler, P., Roberto, N., Lee, N.: Social marketing: improving the quality of life, 2nd edn. Sage Publications Inc, California (2002)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Lenert, L., Munoz, R., Perez, J., Bansod, A.: Automated e-mail messaging as a tool for improving quit rates in an internet smoking cessation intervention. J. Am. Med. Inf. Assoc. 11(4), 235–240 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Linehan, C., Harrer, S., Kirman, B., Lawson, S., Carter, M.: Games against health: a player-centered design philosophy. In: Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 589–600. ACM (2015, April)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    London, L.: Guiltless Girls: Unpacking 100-calorie Snacks (2009)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Marshall, A., Leslie, E., Bauman, A., Marcus, B., Owen, N.: Print versus website physical activity programs A randomized trial. Am. J. Prev. Med. 25(2), 88–94 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Meijers, M.H., Verlegh, P.W., Noordewier, M.K., Smit, E.G.: The dark side of donating: how donating may license environmentally unfriendly behavior. Social Influence, 1–14 (2015). doi:10.1080/15534510.2015.1092468
  31. 31.
    Michie, S., Abraham, C.: Interventions to change health behaviours: evidence-based or evidence-inspired? Psychol. Health 19(1), 29–49 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    O’Keefe, D.: Persuasion: Theory and Research. Sage Publications Inc, London (2002)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Prochaska, J.O., Velicer, W.F.: The transtheoretical model of health behavior change. Am. J. Health Promot. 12(1), 38–48 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
  35. 35.
    Schultz, P.W., Nolan, J.M., Cialdini, R.B., Goldstein, N.J., Griskevicius, V.: The constructive, destructive, and reconstructive power of social norms. Psychol. Sci. 18(5), 429–434 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Stibe, A.: Towards a framework for socially influencing systems: Meta-analysis of four PLS-SEM based studies. In: MacTavish, T., Basapur, S. (eds.) PERSUASIVE 2015. LNCS, vol. 9072, pp. 172–183. Springer, Heidelberg (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Stibe, A.: Advancing typology of computer-supported influence: moderation effects in socially influencing systems. In: MacTavish, T., Basapur, S. (eds.) PERSUASIVE 2015. LNCS, vol. 9072, pp. 253–264. Springer, Heidelberg (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Webb, T., Joseph, J., Yardley, L., Michie, S.: Using the internet to promote health behavior change: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of theoretical basis, use of behavior change techniques, and mode of delivery on efficacy. J. Med. Internet Res. 12(1), e4 (2010). http://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.1376 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MIT Media LabCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Statistical Cybermetrics Research GroupUniversity of WolverhamptonWolverhamptonUK
  3. 3.AlterSparkTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations