AES anti-phishing: Do persuasive designs make smartphones more addictive?

  • 11 May 2023

Do persuasive designs make smartphones more addictive? – A mixed-methods study on Chinese university students.

By Xiaowei Chen, Anders Hedman, Verena Distler, Vincent Koenig.

May 2023: A journal publication has just been released based on YOUNG ACADEMICS’s AES anti-phishing project, of which Xiaowei Chen is the doctoral fellow and Vincent KOENIG the principal investigator.

Persuasive designs have become prevalent for smartphones, and an increasing number of users report problematic smartphone use behaviours. Persuasive designs in smartphones might be accountable for the development and reinforcement of such problematic use. This paper uses a mixed-methods approach to study the relationship between persuasive designs and problematic smartphone use: (1) questionnaires (N=183) to investigate the proportion of participants with multiple problematic smartphone use behaviours and smartphone designs and applications (apps) that they perceived affecting their attitudes and behaviours, and (2) interviews (N=10) to deepen our understanding of users’ observations and evaluations of persuasive designs. 25% of the participants self-reported having multiple problematic smartphone use behaviours, with short video, social networking, game and learning apps perceived as the most attitude- and behaviour-affecting. Interviewees identified multiple persuasive designs in most of these apps and stated that persuasive designs prolonged their screen time, reinforced phone-checking habits, and caused distractions. Overall, this study provides evidence to argue that persuasive designs contribute to problematic smartphone use, potentially making smartphones more addictive. We end our study by discussing the ethical implications of persuasive designs that became salient in our study.

Link to the publication:

If you want to know more about the project, do not hesitate to go to the paragraph dedicated to the project AES anti-phishing in Young Academics project page.

Other info : AES anti-phishing-IAS.pdf (2.81 MB)