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Behavior as a Measure Rather Than a Goal
[Editor’s note: the following is a summary of remarks given by Neema Moraveji, one of more than 20 presenters at October’s sustainable behavior change conference, Consumer-Centric Health: Models for Change ’11. View a video clip of Moraveji’s presentation on Health Innoventions video channel.]

Stanford University Calming Lab director, Neema Moraveji, stated that being calm enables healthy behavior and that an opportunity exists to create ‘calming’ technologies to achieve calm states of being.  “Calming technologies complement persuasive technologies by removing the layers of inner distraction,” explained Moraveji, “that keep us from engaging in the behaviors we desire so much [to do].”  Moraveji refered to this as an “inside out” approach in contrast to “outside in” theories and techniques that work externally to get a person from motivation and ability to habit.  “Our lab focuses exclusively on creating the calm that is needed to help discover the self-efficacy that is always within us,” articulated Moraveji.

Moraveji defines calm as a state of “restful alertness,” with a focus on being productive.  “But productivity, not about volume,” explained Moraveji, “[this is] about being insightful and effective…elegant productivity vs. stressful productivity.” He described the model of calming technology as combining three elements: nature and characteristics of stress; calming mechanisms; and user-centered interaction design.  The focus of the work draws on the fields of psychophysiology, mindfulness, biofeedback, neuroscience, stress reduction, social cognitive theory and mind/body connection.

Moraveji highlighted a number of prototypes that he and Stanford students have developed as examples – mobile and Facebook apps, primarily, that focus on expressing gratitude, setting positive intention, sharing compassion and measuring breathing.  They have been developed based on a framework of ten principles: (1) build self-awareness; (2) sustain attention: (3) create new meaning; (4) tame anger, name fears; (5) shift perspective; (6) reinforce mind-body connection; (7) support socially; (8) humanize interactions; (9) create commitments; and (10) simplify success.

View Moraveji’s talk at Models for Change ’11: Calming Technologies

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