How can thinking of Christmas make you use stairs more?

2018 Oct 02
By Kristína Radová

Could so little as a tag on the floor nudge you to use the stairs instead of an escalator?

The underpass in Bratislava city centre is usually pretty busy. Thousands of people cross over daily.  As you might expect, most of them will use escalators. Our body is inherently lazy. Always wants to do what’s easiest, but that’s not necessarily what’s best for it. And so, everyone able to walk up the stairs, might benefit from it. 

Unfortunately, they will hardly ever opt for such option, if a set of stairs is adjacent to a moving escalator.

Can we shift peoples’ preference towards such an ungodly activity as walking up the stairs?

How about a tag. And Christmas.

We tested such premise and designed a series of tags which were placed on the floor, right before entering an escalator. First tag, asked a simple question: “Are you going to eat sweets during the holiday season?”

It was shortly before Christmas and so we decided to use this to our advantage. A little guilt trip never hurt anyone, but might nudge someone (or so we hoped).  
Following the initial tag, a person could either follow an arrow saying “Yes” or “No”. 
The former lead them towards the steps, while the latter, to the escalator. 
This simple design raised the percentage of people opting for stairs from 18 to 24%. Scratching your head, yet? 

Well, it has to do with science. Behavioral economics, to be specific. It shows that sometimes, all it takes to change our behavior, is to nudge us.

The timing matters. As much as the information.

At MINDWORX we believe it’s not about what you say but how you say it. This translates to everything we do. If something can work to our advantage, we use it. 

The tag we designed was red, impossible to overlook, betraying Christmas was just around the corner.  It made people pause and ponder. Most of them likely to indulge during the holiday season. 

Seems that the mere thought of future, ill-advised choices was enough to steer some of them toward the less preferable option. The stairs. This resulted in hundreds of people making better choices.

All it took was a tag. And a simple, yet well-thought-out question. No ban or reprimand necessary, just a clever nudge

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