Thursday, April 30, 2015

the reduce speed dial

Behaviour change 101 (actually there are a few but this is one) decrees that in order to move a behaviour then making adjustments to the environment in which the behaviour occurs can be very effective.

Many of your classic nudges play to this principle.

The fly 'target' in urinals, mirrors at the cake counter and the eyes on the poster behind the honesty box, for example.

Road safety is one of those areas that is problematic for those trying to modify behaviour.
Speeding in particular.

Often Road Safety communications have relied on fear campaigns or threats of death or punishment, however theres a mountain of research that suggests framing any kind of road use as ‘death-defying’ is not always a good strategy, it can be (unconsciously) received as a kind of challenge, especially among males.

It's also apparent that the only real feedback we get about our behaviour on the road is when its too late. We get a speeding ticket, nearly hit another road user or get hit ourselves.

Even armed with this knowledge, making environmental interventions is hard.

There have been some decent attempts, including the rightly celebrated Swedish Speed Camera Lottery - developed for Volkwagen's Fun Theory project - whereby drivers driving at or below the speed limit were photograhed and entered into a prize lottery, the winnings were funded came from the fines collected from fining the drivers who did not obey the speed limit.

What this also demonstrated is that, government and policy can only go so far.

On the road interventions can only go so far.

The real environment where the behaviour occurs is inside the vehicle (and inside the drivers head).

All of which is why we were attracted to the experiment in the video below. conducted for Volkswagen in New Zealand by our friends at Colenso BBDO.

They say
'In a controlled experiment, we created a replacement panel for the speedo in four Volkswagen Golfs. They followed all of the clarity and safety restrictions of a standard speedo, but the dial was personally hand written by a loved one. This simple, personal mnemonic aims to remind drivers what they have to live for at the exact moment they consider speeding.'

Aside from the techno wizardry the interesting thing for us was the core behavioural nugget at the centre of the idea.

It's been well documented that priming people with pictures of babies faces can trigger caring and nurturing behaviour in adults.

So by inserting primes of the drivers own children right into the operations of the vehicle - amplifying the prime with a bit of extra Darwinian urgency - makes it extra cool.

For agency types it's also encouraging to see our peers being properly engaged by their clients in using their smarts to experiment around problems other than those that are exclusively communications or advertising.

By all accounts the experiment nudged the subjects driving behaviour in this instance - albeit a small sample - but its easy to imagine subsequent iterations or adaptations using this kind of thinking to address other problem driving behaviour (drink driving? spacial awareness re: cyclists etc are just two) and from a commercial standpoint then as a mass customisation tool, on a global level, then it's easy to see the possibilities.

File under: designing environments to optimise the chances of a desirable behaviour, through (at least partly) unconscious influence.

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