My advice on the right training for you?
-Brian Cugelman, PhD
I’ve developed my educational system around two radically different approaches to behavior change.
Most students should start with DBC before taking EDP.
However, EDP may be a better starting point depending on your background, goals, and interests.
Here’s how each course differs
Each course covers a radically different approach to behavior change.
DBC is about translating behavior change theories and techniques into digital products. EDP does the same by focusing on the emotions that drive human behavior.
In DBC, you’ll learn how to use external psychological strategies that influence how people think, feel and behave. You’ll learn which work best/least and how to apply them. The content comes from behavioral science, psychology, neuroscience, and smaller fields like gamification, behavioral economics, and more.
In DBC, the focus is on external techniques that you’ll express within your digital products.
EDP takes a radically different approach. You’ll learn the neuroscience of human perception, comprehension, emotion, and behavior. Then you’ll learn to design for each motivational system and specific emotions.
In EDP, you’ll learn to build products and content based on how your users feel, may feel, or will feel based on their emotional journey.
You’ll have success with either approach. But together, you’ll do better.
EDP gives you insight into what drives human behavior, while DBC gives you techniques to move them.
In addition, each class covers different skills. DBC teaches you foundational skills using psychology and behavioral science for interactive design and marketing. We recommend this as the starting point, as DBC will put all the core principles into a simple perspective.
EDP gives you deeper insight into human nature, diving into hands-on skills tied to emotion-driven design, journey mapping, and bigger-picture design strategies.
Based on your career, here’s what I recommend
I recommend both. But if you just want to take one, here’s a career-focused answer:
Beginners in digital media
If you are new to digital media, start with DBC. It will give you a solid understanding of the fundamentals and help you develop basic skills in psychology-based prototyping. After completing DBC, EDP will be straightforward.
Professionals with little or no experience in applied psychology
If you’re a working professional–but perhaps unfamiliar with behavioral science or your experience with psychology is more about cognitive psychology (common in HCI and UXD) – then I recommend DBC. It will help you enter this subject much more quickly. However, if neuroscience and emotions form more of your experiences, then starting out in EDP should be fine.
Professionals with experience applying psychology
If you’ve been working for many years and are taking classes or reading extensively on applied psychology or behavioral design, you’ll appreciate DBC for the broad framework and practical format. However, you may find EDP to be more cutting-edge and insightful. My advanced students say they like both classes but that EDP gives them something truly unique.
Here are some recommendations if you have a strong background in psychology or behavioral science but limited experience in digital.
You may know many of the theories and principles covered in DBC. As a scientist, I specialized in validating online behavior change techniques (https://www.jmir.org/2011/1/e17/). So all the content is grounded in the most effective principles, and you’ll probably know several of these.
But, there’s a catch. Behavioral scientists usually specialize in just a few areas. This is why the best behavioral finance nudger may be useless at health coaching. Knowing the textbook principles is just the start. It takes a career to master implementation.
DBC is about applying those principles in digital media. If you know the theory, but wish to beef up your hands-on digital skills, I’ll help you make the link from theory to practice in DBC.
There’s also a distinct area of science on technology-mediated behavior change. DBC covers this to ensure you’re grounded in the best science.
Finally, DBC blends most behavior change fields into a simple framework. It helps you understand how all behavior change fields fit together, with advice on when to use different approaches.
The content in EDP is radically different, grounded in neuroscience, but translated into simple concepts for digital applications.
Traditionally, behavioral science ignored motivation or addressed it with sub-standard theories. But neurobiology has changed that. EDP is grounded in the behavioral biology of how emotions motivate behavior, but focused on digital products.
Since this class helps working professionals, I keep the content simple and conceptual. But all citations are available for those who wish to dive deeper.
EDP is an excellent option for experienced behavioral scientists.