The impact of interactive technology on prosocial behavior

Steinemann, Sharon Therese. The impact of interactive technology on prosocial behavior. 2020, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Psychology.


Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_13598

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Background. Behavior performed with the prosocial intent of helping others holds benefits not only for the recipient, but also for the prosocial actor and the community around them. Despite these pervasive benefits, there is relatively little research on how interacting with computing technology can be used to facilitate prosocial behavior.
Understanding this relationship between technology usage and prosocial behavior and the psychological processes underlying this relationship is the aim of this doctoral thesis.
To this goal, over the course of four manuscripts, we examined the impact of different technologies (in the form of video games, interactive narratives, and an interactive online platform) on their users' experiences and prosocial behavior.
Methods. In each manuscript we followed a similar core structure; We experimentally manipulated a form of technology to examine its effects. We collected data on psychological processes we believed to be crucial to the effect of technology on prosocial behavior. Finally, in three of the four manuscripts, we assessed prosocial behavior after interacting with the technology. Based on the individual research questions, the experimental designs were supplemented with additional methodologies, such as interviews, surveys, and longitudinal data collection.
Results. We found that interactivity in games and interactive text-based narratives can lead to increased prosocial behavior, but that this effect only occurred when interactivity lead to more meaningful experiences. We found that narrative choices can lead to meaningful experiences when they create moral dilemmas with clear consequences for oneself or others. We learned that sending reminders to track daily prosocial behavior for three weeks correlates with increases in belief in one's ability to help others in everyday contexts. The strongest predictor for using an interactive platform meant to support prosocial behavior over time was the belief in one’s ability to impact change and the enjoyment of the technology itself. Enjoyment was also related to the likelihood to continue using the interactive platform. One’s belief in one’s ability to help others in everyday contexts did not predict prosocial behavior over time, but one’s belief in one’s ability to impact change did.
Conclusion. Interacting with technology is by far not a silver bullet to drastically impact prosocial behavior. However, when designed to be meaningful, interactivity can affect the way a narrative is perceived and to which extent prosocial behavior will be shown following the interaction. Interactive technology has the potential, particularly when enjoyable, to support performing prosocial actions and engagement over time.
One’s belief in one’s abilities to perform everyday prosocial actions and one's belief in one's abilities to impact change both play roles within the relationship between technology usage and prosocial behavior.
In order to correctly harness the potential of these technologies, however, the complex reality of the variability of users' everyday contexts, as well as their unique capabilities, opportunities, and motivations need to be taken into account. While some technology is more likely to lead to prosocial behavior when it is meaningful, others will be more likely be effective, particularly over time, when they are enjoyable. Future research should further examine the relationships between different forms of self-efficacy, experiences of enjoyment and meaningfulness, their relationship with sustained prosocial behavior, and how they are affected by interactive technology.
Advisors:Opwis, Klaus and Reijnen, Ester
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Society & Choice > Allgemeine Psychologie und Methodologie (Opwis)
UniBasel Contributors:Opwis, Klaus
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:13598
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:1 Online-Ressource (101 Blätter)
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Last Modified:06 Aug 2020 04:30
Deposited On:05 Aug 2020 13:27

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