Since PaCT Lab was established in 2002 by Prof. Pam Briggs, Dr Linda Little and Dr Elizabeth Sillence, the digital environment, e.g. the internet, mobile phones, smart homes, has become an integral part of our daily lives and is becoming an increasingly important means of sustaining the health and wellbeing of people worldwide.
This takes the form of providing access to a wealth of information, by linking geographically dispersed communities of peers and professionals or by supporting self-management of desired behaviours such as those required for healthy lifestyles. It can also take the form of monitoring the environment and mobility to support independent living or persuasive tools to foster such behaviours as energy conservation. The internet is a medium for behavioural change. It is important to understand how the design and use of such technologies persuades and influences us – our thoughts, attitudes, feelings and therefore behaviour.
Currently, governments around the world are turning to technology to meet societal challenges that require behaviour change such as reducing carbon emissions, conserving energy, maintaining health, reducing drinking, smoking and obesity, increasing voting and supporting the local and global community. We are exploring how communication technologies can be harnessed to support these national priorities. We also recognise a dark side emerging where such technologies are being used in negative ways to bully, groom, steal, defraud and promote extremist views which we seek to address how people can be protected from both themselves and others. The enduring questions of how to motivate participation, increase social trust, and promote collaboration remain challenges as technology rapidly evolves.