I’m Erik Bohjort, psychologist, nudger and (digital) behaviour change enthusiast. Ask Me Anything about behaviour, psychology and tech!

Coming from the theoretical standpoint of psychology and cognitive behavioural therapy I am always curious to explore how to apply and integrate my knowledge in new areas through collaboration.

Two years ago I had the pleasure of doing exactly this within a fin- and ed-tech startup working with financial education for children. This allowed me to start navigating the landscape of how developmental psychology, technology and education intersect.

Since then I have been involved in research as well as product and service development related to the question of ”How we make change in the way people behave?”.

Recently I have joined one of the first units in Sweden working with Behavioural Insights (yes this includes nudges) where I am currently involved in projects bridging the gap between digital and analogue behaviours, sustainability transformations, innovation leadership and e-learning.

Privately I have interests within the areas of improv theatre and climbing, I am a former martial artist and e-sporter and since the start of the pandemic, I am trying to learn how to lose a little bit less in chess.

Join me and others this Wednesday (9/12) at 18:30 CET to AMA about behaviour, psychology and tech!

What is an AMA and how does it work?
AMA, or Ask Me Anything, is an interviewing format popularised via Reddit. In short, you ask me questions, and I answer them live for an hour.

How does it work?
Anyone is welcome to post questions/comments below. On Wednesday, I’ll come back to this thread to start answering questions I find interesting. I will do my best to reply to as many questions as possible, but please note that not all questions/comments will be addressed.

Who can join?
Anyone! As the conversations get going during the hour, you will see multiple threads naturally emerging. There is an open invitation for everyone to contribute–please feel free to reach out to other community members, either on the thread or via DM, to continue the discussion!

Register here to get a reminder and the link resend an hour before the event: https://tell.edgeryders.eu/14917

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A little animation with some of the questions we already have been receiving:

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What would you really like to ask a psychologist Erik Bohjort?:
What do you think of the notion of knowledge sports? Under what conditions could knowledge-based sports be popular in high schools and colleges like esports?

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Hi Erik,
Looking forward to the AMA. I’m curious about how time perspective plays into thinking around behaviours when it comes to tech? Am attempting to get some thoughts together before the ama: How many digital technologies, infrastructures and businesses will be around 1000 years from now?

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I am interested in the (metaphorical and inherently fuzzy) line between tech influencing child behavior and the role of active parenting.

I grew up in the USA in the 50s and 60s. My friends and I had amazing freedom to ‘go out and play’ usually with the instruction to simply return home for dinner. And there were no bike helmets either. It’s almost unheard of now.

But - that was a world where the mothers in the neighborhood (urban and suburban - I lived in both as a child) did not usually have jobs. That meant that as a kid if you had a bad problem or an injury, there was a mother at home nearby. Even if you didn’t know her, it is almost certain that she would have helped you. So, there was more risk, but more help was usually available.

Now most mothers work, usually at a job away from the home. And they still have to keep the home scene together, unless they have unusually supportive husbands. This means they don’t have much time to understand, and then monitor, their kid’s online activities.

And much of today’s info/communication tech - especially smart phone/tablet apps - is so easy to use that any enterprising kid, even very young, can tunnel their way into almost anything, such as hardcore porn, which just tends to ask you if you are over 18, to which you can simply click ‘yes.’

The European trend seems to be to more heavily regulate technology, plus put in options for parental control. But regulation always seems to play catchup when it comes to tech. And these days, companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon have so much money they can, and do, constantly create new ways to influence and even manipulate behavior.

Can these problems be solved, or even much helped, by technology? And if so, do you know what is on the horizon?

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What would you really like to ask a psychologist Erik Bohjort?:
Loneliness, how do you fight it? :slight_smile:
Loneliness, how do you fight it?

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What would you really like to ask a psychologist Erik Bohjort?:
Trying to integrate as a refugee in a new country requires a lot of behavioral change. What would be multiple lines to approach that change, knowing that most refugees will deal with (tremendous) loss and trauma, while avoiding post-migration stress and trauma .

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What would you really like to ask a psychologist Erik Bohjort?:
I have just came back to my country after I went abroad for a couple of years. I acknowledge that I have changed a lot that I am more honest with myself. I am now experiencing reverse shock culture and have a quite hard time to adjust. I also aware that I become defensive from my childhood trauma. I was a people pleaser (I am still but way much lesser) and always think about what people gonna think about me.
I wanna learn how to brace myself to go out from the shell and wear the new wings without being defensive.

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Hi @Bohjort! Given your expertise, what would you want policy makers to know if/when they consider the potential harms and benefits of fin tech and other digital tools for child education?

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I think we all agree that technology can and does manipulate people at the individual and the group levels, often with consequences. But how can one even know or discern if she or he, or their children are being manipulated by technology? Is it a “frog in the hot water” situation where you can’t really tell until it is “too late”?

Hello @Leonie,

Great question! My first and a bit unstructured thoughs on the topic:

  1. We see that regular education can lack the ability to meet the child at their level and adapt the learnings into something that is actually interesting and useful to the child. For example, private finance education in schools for children is often found to have no effect on the financial literacy of the children. Digital tools can be made more flexible and as such meet the childs needs and adapt the learnings into something that is useful.

  2. The children of today and tomorrow will most likely live in completely digitalised economical landscapes and as such policy makers need to work with this in mind.

  3. I would like to advice policy makers to embrace the digitalisation of both the financial world as well as education. However, we must not forget that where we are in the development of the area right now is that these are tools to help us rather than complete systems that will give us all encompassing solutions. In short, tools that can and should complement other best practices in the fields.

  4. Digital tools and services in their own are not inherently “bad” for children and youth, and children of today and tomorrow will most likely be what some call digital natives. With this in mind I believe strongly that we cannot cut corners when it comes to the evaluation of potential benefits and harms.

Do you have any more specific questions regarding this I am more than happy to continue digging deeper and reason with you!

/Erik

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@daveed, I love that you asked this question before I had the chance to include in my bio that I have been part of some amateur e-sports!

Now I am in no way an expert when it comes to what is or makes something popular in high school and college, but I will reason with you for a bit.

I imagine that watchability, but also tradition are some of the driving factors when it comes to what is popular. So regarding watchability I see some problems that need to be solved for knowledge-sports to bloom. Me as a viewer, I need to in some way understand what is going on, what sets a good play or player apart from an average one. This understanding is hard to create and showcase in the same way as football, soccer or basketball as knowledge-sports inherently are harder to understand.

My first two ideas, possible part solutions to explore:

  • Showcase competition in lower than the absolute top levels of performance so that the best practicioners can analyse and explain what is going on and why this is exciting to see. We already see examples of this within some e-sports and chess communities.
  • Build the sport so that the viewer can access more information about the game state than the competitors and as such understand easier and faster what is going on.

Thank you for the question, I’d love to discuss this further!

/Erik

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Thank you @Bohjort! Before I respond with more specific questions, I do have a related, though distinct question(s) first:

Has the Covid-19 pandemic effected the ways in which you think about the importance of digital learning tools for education? If so, how? What have you observed about the shifting role of digital education tools and e-learning during the pandemic? How might this shape education in the future?

@nadia I will revisit this question more in detail next week as I am currently in a project where we are exploring in depth what factors are important when it comes to time and timing behaviour change. Please do remind me to discuss this again with you then.

My tip of tongue answer, behaviour change is often the easiest to make happen when an individual find themselves in new contexts filled with novelty. Since tech is moving faster than ever and we are subject to more and more novelty on a daily basis I am curiously exploring the idea that novelty is becoming the new normal. Perhaps this will lead us into less flexibility and fewer moments of willful choice?

As I wrote, please ping me next week as I would love to discuss and partake in the AMA!

/Erik

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Do you think that there is a sense in making educational technology intentionally “hard” as to generate learning experiences in overcoming hurdles, or do you think that in that case they just never stand any chance against “easy” commercial/entertainment products? I guess that also goes for behavioural change in general. Changing your behaviour is hard, can “easy” UX help, or is it maybe even counterproductive in some cases as it creates false impressions and expectations and there will always be another even easier version that might be focused more on entertainment?

( In this context I like to bring up the story from our pannel on freelancing and childcare, where a parent who temselves grew up exploring tech early by himself originally planned to introduce tech to their children as soon as possible, but after seeing their 2 year old interact with and ipad with out any challenging expiriences shifted thei opinion 180 degree and decided to limit their tech contact heavyly since modern “easy” ux is not chalenging creativity or learning in their opinion.)

Is there some point at which it does start to have an effect? I am not very good at math. Never have been. I got by in school, but never that well. I did understand that arithmetic was part of regular life so that part is fine. But deeper math has always been a struggle. But in school I don’t remember ever being told for example that if you want to build something it will go a lot better if you understand geometry. (Often when working on my house I wish I had understood it better.) And with personal finance - I doubt I ever would have paid attention to it as a child as you suggest. (I grew up in a solid middle class household that always got the bills paid on time and the pantry was always full.) But by high school I might have paid attention to some aspects of personal/private finance had someone linked it better to reality of daily life. As in “here is how to not go broke, which you probably will if you don’t pay attention.” For me, school often had that disconnect between what they teach and my daily life when it comes to math.

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@johncoate such important question!

For the issue with parenthood while understanding and monitoring our childen and their online activities I have no direct solution. I too see the problem with our society today asking everything of everyone and that those who do not function independently (in this case children) are often then faced with less of the resources needed. I can only hope that with our increasing understanding we will move towards a society where there will be time for all parents to be and take part of their childrens’ lives.

Thank you for you question!

/Erik

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@matteo_uguzzoni a very central question in todays pandemic society and one that many struggle with.

My premier tip: If there is a way for you to share your loneliness feelings with any family or friends that you might have. Then this might be one of the best ways for them to be notified and as such be able to help you and be there for and with you.

/Erik

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@zinstance The complex question of how to work with sustainable and healthy behaviour change in refugees I must humbly say is outside of my expertise.

However, relating to the question on time and timing from @nadia , I see that the period directly after the migration can be a central period of time where one has the opportunity to try and implement behaviours that will help the individual in the long term.

/Erik

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Children learn behaviour from parents. Which means they watch them on their phones and laptops all the time. It becomes one of those things like alkohol where parents say it is ok for them but not for children.

We ays “you should go out and play, you should not be in front of the screen all day”. But many adults do just that.

Behavioural change in terms of technology use for children maybe has to start with adults. What are good ways to monitor and balnce your own technology use, social media intake and how you balance that out with other activities?

@johncoate, maybe aktively parenting becomes the attempt to actively live the lifestyle you would like to see? WHich does not mean not using tech as that is not possible nor good in today’s world. But to use it in a “good way” and to also do creative and outside stuff, which is also good for you.

That would bring that back to working on your own behaviour, or on that of other adults to start out with.

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