PsychNology Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, 7 – 28

Designing Persuasive Applications to Motivate Sustainable Behavior in Collectivist Cultures

Hiroaki Kimura, Tatsuo Nakajima 
Waseda University, Japan


Until now, many kinds of persuasive applications have been developed, and most of which are used by individuals for personal benefits, example includes better healthcare, better lifestyle and so on. However, one application area that is yet to be explored effectively is persuading users for preserving shared resources including environmental conservation. Unlike existing persuasive applications, these applications do not aim personal benefits and consequently requires radically different persuasion techniques. In this paper, we apply knowledge of cross-cultural understanding to this kind of persuasive applications. We introduce five design strategies for persuasive applications that could be used especially in collectivist cultures. These strategies are organizing group, anonymity, mutual surveillance, development of mutual aid, and combine use of positive and negative feedback. By sharing our experiences of building persuasive application for reducing CO2 emissions named EcoIsland, we expose how these five design strategies could be applied in persuasive applications. The application encourages users to do eco-friendly activities for reducing CO2 by offering game like feedback. The results of our experiment that recruited 6 families / 20 persons and took 4 weeks show that two design strategies, mutual surveillance and combine use of positive and negative feedback worked effectively based on the number of eco-friendly activities one participant in each household reports and questionnaires.

KEYWORDS: individualist, collectivist, behavior change, persuasive technology, green activity, sustainability, cultural difference


Kimura H., Nakajima T. (2011). Designing Persuasive Applications to Motivate Sustainable Behavior in Collectivist Cultures. PsychNology Journal, 9(1), 7 - 28. Retrieved [month] [day], [year], from

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