Stairway to motivational heaven
Say you need to go from the ground floor of a building to the fourth floor. Climbing stairs is obviously better for your health than standing in an elevator. But how can we encourage more people to choose the healthier option? One way, as Scott also showed us, is through fun. But a group of researchers tested whether it was possible to motivate behavior using signs.
Megan Grimstvedt and colleagues placed signs near the elevators of 4 university buildings in San Antonio. The sign said simply “Walking up stairs burns almost 5 times as many calories as riding an elevator” and included an arrow directing people to the nearest staircase, as well as a cartoon of the school mascot walking up a flight of stairs. Two of the buildings had very visible staircases, while two of the buildings had staircases that were relatively hidden. The buildings with hidden staircases had an additional sign on the staircase door to tell people that the stairs were accessible (e.g. no fire alarm would sound).
- Before the signs, only 13% of people took the hidden staircases. After the signs, 25% did.
- Before the signs, 43% of people used the visible staircases. After the signs, nearly 60% used them.
- Overall, the signs increased staircase use 34%. What’s more, the increase persisted four weeks after the researchers removed the signs.
No carrots or sticks here, folks. Just information — which gave people feedback on their behavior and linked simple actions to a larger purpose. It’s Motivation 3.0 . . . with signs. I’m in nerdvana.