Back in the old days, when an international team of Ph.D. social scientists and veteran graphic designers first conceived the idea of emotionally intelligent signage in a series of secret all-night meetings in my garage*, the term had a particular meaning.

The idea was that signs could be more effective — that is, they were more likely to produce the desired behavior — if they: a) expressed empathy with the viewer; or b) elicited empathy in the viewer. The concept has widened a bit since then, particularly with examples of signs using humor to make their point.

But last week Kathleen Curry sent us a sign that meets the classic, original definition. Driving on Coleman Blvd. in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, she spotted the sign below. It reminds me of what the town of Needham, Massachusetts, did not too long ago — and it’s apparently part of a national movement.

Hard to say for sure whether this sort of sign will change behavior, but I’m guessing it just might.

* Note: This creation myth, like many others, is somewhat embellished.

3 Responses to “Textbook example of emotionally intelligent signage”

  1. Kris says:

    I’ve seen a couple recently that probably aren’t emotionally intelligent, but they do seem to work: school zone signs with a reminder that fines double, and a no u-turn sign which states the fine is $179, plus a 3-pt penalty off your license.

  2. - In Pennsylvania: “Buckle Up Next Million Miles”
    - In New York: “Correctional Facility Area: Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers”
    - a speed radar and display set up in front of a school zone sign

  3. Whenever I see that sign it makes me think to pull in the driveway and say, “Honey, I’m home!”

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