At LazyMeter, we’ve been impressed by how even a small amount of productivity data can motivate our users and improve their overall satisfaction. Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops, in the July issue of Wired Magazine, explains how data cam be used to improve users’ lives. Read this article to understand the science of LazyMeter. Below are some highlights.
The basic premise is simple. Provide people with information about their actions in real time (or something close to it), then give them an opportunity to change those actions, pushing them toward better behaviors. Action, information, reaction.
The potential to improve behavior:
But the simplicity of feedback loops is deceptive. They are in fact powerful tools that can help people change bad behavior patterns, even those that seem intractable. Just as important, they can be used to encourage good habits, turning progress itself into a reward. In other words, feedback loops change human behavior.
Albert Bandura, a Stanford University psychologist and pioneer in the study of behavior change and motivation, observed that giving individuals a clear goal and a means to evaluate their progress toward that goal greatly increased the likelihood that they would achieve it. He later expanded this notion into the concept of self-efficacy, which holds that the more we believe we can meet a goal, the more likely we will do so.
On giving people control:
The true power of feedback loops is not to control people but to give them control. It’s like the difference between a speed trap and a speed feedback sign—one is a game of gotcha, the other is a gentle reminder of the rules of the road. The ideal feedback loop gives us an emotional connection to a rational goal.
The connection to productivity:
Feedback loops can improve how companies motivate and empower their employees, allowing workers to monitor their own productivity and set their own schedules… They could allow people to set and achieve better-defined, more ambitious goals and curb destructive behaviors, replacing them with positive actions.
On exposing inspirations:
As Stanford’s Bandura put it, “People are proactive, aspiring organisms.” Feedback taps into those aspirations.
Read the whole article at Wired.com.
Photo by Kevin Van Aelst, Wired