Designing a Social Support System for College Adjustment and Social Support
A main characteristic of current social systems is that they are designed to never-endingly captivate the attention of users, but are rarely designed to give support to those that need it. We describe the development process of Buddy, a social support mobile app for college students. We created a message stream algorithmically designed to give more attention to those with low psychological wellbeing, hidden feedback metrics to discourage competition or social comparison, and bots to deliver automatic one-click feedback in the form of virtual hugs. Across two field studies, we found that these small design changes can facilitate different types of behavior and community norms.