The Prosocial Design Network is dedicated to helping transform the Web into a healthier, more respectful place to visit. With an international network of designers & behavioral scientists, we curate evidence-based interventions, and the research underlying them, so as to bring out the best in human nature online.
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The Prosocial Design Library is a pattern library of evidence-based design interventions, which designers may use in their products to improve the quality of their users’ interactions with one another.
Interventions are specific user experience design elements for digital platforms, which produce—or could produce—a quantifiable prosocial outcome in controlled experiments.
Examples of prosocial outcomes could include:
Reductions in online trolling, bias, harassment, cyberbulling, and cyberhate
Increased feelings of safety, recognition, inclusion, and acceptance, for users hailing from real-life, marginalized communities
Disagreements become more productive. Regardless of outcome, parties exit disagreements feeling as though their dignity was left intact
Tested Interventions are interventions that the Prosocial Design Network has deemed to work, based on published and preprinted experiments.
Each tested intervention is given an evidence-grade based on the quality and quantity of the research supporting it.
From high to low, those evidence-grades are: Convincing, Likely, and Tentative.
The best of the best, a grade of Validated is reserved for interventions that have not only been peer reviewed, but have also been successfully replicated.
It is the highest evidentiary grade that the Prosocial Design Network can bestow.
A grade of Convincing is reserved for interventions for which the majority of evidence is peer-reviewed experiments that have yet to undergo attempts at replication.
This is the second highest grade that we give interventions.
A grade of Likely is given to interventions that someone has rigorously experimented, published their methods and data, all without a conflict of interest being present. However, it is still awaiting peer review, i.e. it is a preprint.
This is the third highest grade that we give interventions.
A grade of Tentative is given for a number of reasons.
Often it is either because:
Should a study that would otherwise be labeled as Convincing undergo replication, but fail to replicate the results in good faith, that intervention may also be reassigned a grade of Tentative.
Untested Interventions lack testing. However, they are included due to being: analogous to offline interventions, used in a product for prosocial aims, or otherwise having expert endorsement for prosocial outcomes.
Untested interventions have one of two evidence-grades: Emerging and Inference.
A grade of Emergent is often given to interventions for whom the majority of research is qualitative.
Alternatively, if research exists, but the methodology is not publicly available, the Prosocial Design Network will also assign it an Emergent grade.
This grade denotes that the idea could have merit, but no quantitative research exists to explain why or how.
A grade of Inference is for proposed interventions that lack research of their own, but that could work by way of analogous studies, expert opinions, or first principles.
While this is, technically, the lowest evidentiary grade that we can afford an intervention while still including it in the library, this is not meant to discourage. On the contrary! This grade is very much an invitation to explore and experiment with it further.
For ease of navigation, alongside being sorted by Tested or Untested, each card belongs to one of the follow five classes of intervention, based on their intended function:
The Build Bridges classification is for interventions that alter perceptions of outgroups to be more approachable.
The Dispel Rumors classification covers interventions that stop the spread of misinformation or disinformation, so that all parties are working from—and can find, if necessary—common sets of facts.
The Evoke User's Visibility classification addresses interventions that either remind users that they are part of a community; that they are being seen and heard, often by a larger audience than they realize; or that they are an individual human being, capable of making their own choices.
The Stop Hate & Bullying classification covers interventions that both anticipate and prevent expressions of, and incitements to, hatred and harrassment.
The Empower Connection classification includes interventions that both help people reach consensus and communicate collaboratively.
Reduces spread of mis- and disinformation
Make new users more comfortable in community and more resilient to trolling
Innoculates users against misinformation
Cuts down on trolling behavior without shaming users
More conscientious posts, reduced misconceptions of people unlike themselves
Gives users a chance to reconsider their words before they're public
Create middle ground between promoting content and banning it
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