19. maj 2020

Christina Gravert: Triggering Emotions Won’t Lead to Lasting Behavior Change

Christina ordinates cocktails - not the ones in glasses topped with little colourful umbrellas. But hardkicking cocktails of policies.

In Behavioral Scientist Christina writes:

"Emotions are, by definition, temporary. So is attention. Using activity-mobilizing emotions such as fun, hope, anger, or fear can work exceptionally well to kick-start a new habit, but we still have months or even years of behavior change ahead of us. What we need is a cocktail of policies—including regulations, incentives, and nudges—that will promote good habits, even when our motivation has died down."

She rhetorically continues with the question "How can we generate long-term behavior change when compliance isn’t exciting anymore?" - and then serves the answers. Interested readers should read the full article Why Triggering Emotions Won't Lead to Lasting Behavior Change 

For busy readers we can reveal the solutions in headlines:

"1) Perhaps the most successful example is defaults. Individuals defaulted into pension plans, two-sided printing, or renewable energy for their home seem to stick with the option.

2) Salience has also proven to be effective in the long term. Placing vegetarian food on top of a menu makes it more likely that customers will select it, and real-time feedback while showering reduced energy consumption of hotel guests.

What do these nudges have in common? They are typically not consciously noticed by the decision maker. Grabbing a ceramic cup conveniently stacked next to the coffee machine instead of a paper one from the cupboard does not require you to think about saving the rainforest before your morning coffee. The less conscious the nudges are the less they are prone to wearing off or even backfiring, regardless of whether you agree with the goal of the nudge or not."

Sprinting through all Christinas good arguments and examples we rush to her wrap up.

"Like fighting climate change or obesity, overcoming this health crisis will be a marathon, not a sprint. Nudges can make it easier to do the right thing, but we need to take into account how they differ in their short- and long-term impact on our behavior.  Our collective health depends on it."