Behavioral Science + Behavior Change Design + Social Impact with Dustin DiTommaso — DT101 E28

Welcome to the Design Thinking 101 podcast! I’m Dawan Stanford, your host. Today I’m interviewing Dustin DiTommaso. Dustin is a designer and researcher who works to integrate the study and application of behavioral science and human-centered design to develop digital interventions that change real-world behaviors. In 2009, he founded the Behavior Change Design practice at Mad*Pow, where he and his team have designed effective interventions for improving health, financial well-being, and life-long learning.

When he’s not working on client challenges and creating new real-world interventions, Dustin teaches “Design for Behavior Change and Social Impact” at the Rhode Island School of Design. He also collaborates on grant work with colleagues from University College London’s Centre for Behaviour Change and other academic affiliations.

Today, we travel down the path that Dustin took to get to where he is today. From his work at Botticelli Interactive, through the advertising world, and then back home to design, Dustin chats about his need to impact society in a meaningful way, and why behavior change design has resonated the most with him.

Dustin shares information on how he and his team approach their design projects and the methods they use to quantify and qualify third-party research. He also delves into their use of the COM-B model in creating, applying, and implementing their designs. They even use this framework when explaining the product to their clients!

Dustin shares several fantastic resources that he has written and used to inspire his design mind. He also provides some insights on how gamification in behavioral design has been used inappropriately and how it could be better.

Learn More About Today’s Guest

Dustin on LinkedIn

Dustin on Twitter: @DU5TB1N


In This Episode

[01:28] Welcome to the show Dustin DiTommaso! He shares how he moved into designing for behavior change.

[03:20] How self-determination theory and motivation helped shape Dustin’s design practice.

[04:39] After realizing advertising was not for him, Dustin met Amy Cueva, the founder of Mad*Pow, and moved into using design to change lives.

[06:13] How do projects flow in behavioral design? 

[11:15] When there are conflicts in the evidence, how do they compare and use that information? 

[15:15] What kinds of methods do they use and how do they adapt them in the design stage?

[16:16] The COM-B model and how it applies to behavioral change design.

[22:19] COM-B is used to address all kinds of questions and tailor approaches for all involved.

[23:30] How do new designers react to the model?

[27:00] When walking clients through the details of the model and application, how do they break everything down? 

[28:47] Do their client workshops help their team as well? 

[32:38] Dustin shares more about his work in gainful design as applied to different contexts.

[38:15] What approaches to teaching about gainful design have been working? 

[42:53] Learn what resources Dustin recommends to those looking to get into behavioral design.

[45:59] What is most impactful from a design perspective for those in public health? 

[48:31] Some final resources… and how to find Dustin!

Links and Resources

Design Thinking at Work

The Reflective Practitioner by Donald Schon 

Innovation with Information Technologies in Healthcare
Botticelli Interactive

Why We Do What We Do by Edward L. Deci

Self-Determination Theory in Practice by Jennifer LaGuardia

Design for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen
AR & VR for Behavior Change by Julie Dirksen, Dustin DiTommaso, and Cindy Plunkett

The Art & Science of Engagement by Dustin DiTommaso

Behavior Change Design: Toward a Vision of Motivational Technology; Solutions for Health & Healthcare

Health Experience Design Conference (HXD 2018): Dustin DiTommaso – Keynote

Thank you for listening to the show and looking at the show notes. Send your questions, suggestions, and guest ideas to Dawan and the Fluid Hive team. Cheers ~ Dawan

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