University of Twente Student Theses


Persuasive technologies and self-awareness : a philosophical-anthropological enquiry

Olivieri, Lorenzo (2019) Persuasive technologies and self-awareness : a philosophical-anthropological enquiry.

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Abstract:Persuasive technologies are interactive systems designed to change and shape users’ behaviours towards specific goals. By discussing a study-case, persuasive ambient mirrors, this work focuses on the new modalities of experience and perception of the self which emerge in the interaction with these devices. The aim is thus to enquire how persuasive technologies shape and transform self-awareness. By addressing this question, this thesis conceptualises persuasive technologies as cognitive artefacts which, through their properties, reconfigure and transform users’ cognition and thus their interaction with the world. To do this, I rely on two different theoretical frameworks, “Material Engagement Theory” and “Niche construction theory”, which illustrate the role played by objects in the emergence of self-awareness as well as in supporting and extending human cognition. I will argue that while persuasive mirrors might lead to a highly personalized and highly scaffolded form of self-awareness, one which integrates multiple modalities of self-recognition and self-projection, they might also tend to configure a conditioned, standardized self. Finally, I will consider persuasive technologies not only in relation to single users, but also in the light of their possible function in the ecological niches that characterize contemporary world. In particular, I will suggest that (some) persuasive technologies can be conceived as means for coping with the fast technological transformations that occurred in human societies in the last decades.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:08 philosophy
Programme:Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society MSc (60024)
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