THE ROLE OF PERSONALITY IN DEFINING THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN PERSUASIVE TECHNOLOGY AND COERCION
Persuasive Computing is a sub-discipline of Human Computer Interaction and Com- puter Science. It is focused on motivating users to improve their lives through tech- nological intervention. Examples include fitness applications, smoking cessation tools and screen time loggers. The discipline actively specifies that users must be persuaded through positive reinforcement and it actively condemns coercion but has never of- fered a definition of the boundary between persuasion and coercion. For ethical and practical reasons scholars in this field avoid coercion as they understand it, but little has been done to examine how users perceive persuasion and coercion when enacted by technology, particularly mobile devices. We conducted a within-subjects study (N = 407) on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Participants were asked to evaluate several storyboards depicting a personified mobile device interacting with a user. Using a 5-point scale, participants rated each storyboard as to where it falls on a scale be- tween coercive, neutral and persuasive. We calculated the Big-5 personality score of participants using the 61-question BFI-V2 survey and compared their personality traits with their responses to storyboards. We tested the hypothesis that elements of personality are directly correlated to perceptions of persuasion/coercion and found no evidence to support it. This finding is a different result than found in similar existing literature that have stated persuasion styles are related to personality; however, our finding is not a contradiction as more generalized research methodologies were used in this study. We conclude that the role of personality in defining the boundary between persuasive computing and coercion cannot be assessed using generalized parameters.