Category Archives: Cases

A choice architecture to reuse hotel towels

Banff Aspen Lodge has an interesting environmental incentive program. If guests stay two or more nights and prefer no housekeeping service in this hotel, it offers a choice of options for the guest’s consideration:

 

  • Option 1: The hotel will make a donation of $4 on behalf of guests to the Banff Community Foundation, which supports environmental initiatives in their community. To select this option, guests insert the Green Card into the entry door lock.
  • Option 2: Enjoy one complimentary beverage at the Whitebark Cafe, which is located in the lobby. To select this option, guests insert the Yellow Card into the entry door lock. A complimentary beverage coupon is delivered to the guest’s room. 

 

 

I suspect someone carefully designed a choice architecture with a psychological intervention to nudge guests to choose “No” housekeeping service. This program will be effective because…  

 

 

  1. Three options are provided (housekeeping vs. environmental 1 vs. environmental 2). It differs from the choice architecture commonly observed in the behavioral economics in which two competing options are provided. Having three options may relieve the guests’ burden, which decreases their intentions to defer choices.  
  2. Only two environmental options are highlighted. As guests read and think about “how” to protect environment, the chance they select one of the two environmental options may increase.
  3. Two environmental options reflect the two motivations why people should behave environmentally friendly; helping others (charitable giving) and helping themselves (economic incentive). 
  4. Finally, when guests select one environmental option, they do not speak or write down but simply insert a card into their own entry door lock. This simple behavior has no peer pressure. 

 

 

This environmental incentive program might be more effective than making a commitment at check-in, a scientifically proven intervention in the prior marketing paper. 

Baca-Motes, K., Brown, A., Gneezy, A., Keenan, E. A., & Nelson, L. D. (2012). Commitment and Behavior Change: Evidence from the Field. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(5), 1070–1084.

Influencing behavior change is an ongoing challenge in psychology, economics, and consumer behavior research. Building on previous work on commitment, self-signaling, and the principle of consistency, a large, intensive field experiment (N = 2,416) examined the effect of hotel guests’ commitment to practice environmentally friendly behavior during their stay. Notably, commitment was symbolic—guests were unaware of the experiment and of the fact that their behavior would be monitored, which allowed them to exist in anonymity and behave as they wish. When guests made a brief but specific commitment at check-in, and received a lapel pin to symbolize their commitment, they were over 25% more likely to hang at least one towel for reuse, and this increased the total number of towels hung by over 40%. This research highlights how a small, carefully planned intervention can have a significant impact on behavior. Theoretical and practical implications for motivating desired behavior are discussed.

 

 

Positioning map helps consumers make decisions

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a hotel in Alberta, Canada. Surrounded by mountain peaks and an emerald lake in the Banff National Park, this hotel has a pub for the outdoor enthusiasts coming from all over the world. At the pub, the menu was carefully designed for foreigners by mapping local drinks in two dimensions: how bitter (vs. sweet) and mild (vs. full flavor) beers are and how sweet (vs. sour) and mild (strong) cocktails.

 

 

Visual mapping of existing products in two dimensions has been widely used among marketers who either modify existing products or introduce new products. Marketers rely on, so called, positioning map or perceptual map because map illustrates the customer perception of a company’s products and brands relative to their competition.

 

 

However, as the menu suggests, positioning map could benefit customers as well when provided with unfamiliar products. As persona helps designers communicate with users, map could help novice customers make informed decisions. In other words, positioning map aids consumers’ understanding of their own preferences, like consumption vocabulary.

 

West, P. M., Brown, C. L., & Hoch, S. J. (1996). Consumption Vocabulary and Preference Formation. Journal of Consumer Research, 23(2), 120–135.

Consumers’ understanding of their own preferences can be aided by a “consumption vocabulary”-a taxonomy or framework that facilitates identifying the relation between a product’s features and one’s evaluation of the product. In the absence of such a vocabulary, consumers’ understanding of their own preferences will require more extensive experience and may never fully develop. The effect of such a vocabulary is tested in two experiments in which subjects provided with a vocabulary (1) exhibit better-defined and more consistent preferences than control subjects, (2) show improved cue discovery, and (3) show learning (i.e., increases in consistency over time). All results hold regardless of the functional form of the model used to assess subjects’ preference formation.

 

 

A surprising ride at Legoland

Lighthouse is a ride in Legoland Billund, Denmark. It looks like a small-sized drop tower exclusively designed for kids or even toddlers. I expected young riders would experience free-fall initially, followed by modest deceleration.

 

 

Surprisingly, it is not a drop tower. Instead, riders need to pull the rope until they hit the top. Legoland website explains it.

Children gain insight into themselves when they hoist themselves up by their own strength to the LEGO® Lighthouse Keeper and the spectacular view of Pirate Land and Pirate Island. Climbing down again is also fun – and a little challenging.

 

Many European riders actually enjoyed this labor intensive, manual ride. It is a stack contrast with electronically powered, automatic drop towers in Korea. Their difference seems to be in line with the different train ticket system between UK and Korea. Europeans seem to embrace and enjoy manual labor, whereas Asians tend to avoid it.

 

 

 

 

Language barrier makes virtual reality more real

At Prague, Czech Republic, visitors experienced riding a new tram called T3 Coupe in virtual reality.

The T3 tram is an iconic component of the Prague city scape. In collaboration with Anna Marešová designers, the Prague Public Transit Co. has created a new pleasure tram concept based on the tradition of the Tatra T3 tram, putting this legendary vehicle in an entirely new context while respecting its authentic looks. By opening the rear of the tram and combining original elements with modern technologies, the project has given rise to an old-timer that demonstrates how even public transit can deliver real luxury. Because the tram has only one set of doors, it’s been dubbed the T3 Coupé. This special tram preserves the romance of the 1960s and is a tribute to the designer of the original Tatra T3 tram – František Kardaus (1908–1986). The new T3 Coupé tram hits the streets in autumn 2018.

 

 

They sit on the chairs, wore Samsung Gear VR headset, and watched a 360 degree video as passengers. A driver and other passengers appeared in the video.

 

 

Before having enjoyed the virtual tram, I asked a lady about what is T3 Coupe, where to sit, and how to start the device. Interestingly, this human interaction made my non-real experience more real. It was ironic that I was more immersed into the virtual world because of my experiencing language barrier; she could not explain to me about T3 Coupe in English and I could not understand any Czech written on the ticket.

 

 

Peak end rule is probably one of the most well established psychological heuristic. Kahneman and his colleagues (1993) found that people tend to judge an experience based on how they felt at its peak and at its end. However, people might consider its beginning as well when the experience is virtual. Virtual experience might need to be carefully wrapped up by its beginning, its peak, and its end.

Kahneman, D., Fredrickson, B. L., Schreiber, C. A., & Redelmeier, D. A. (1993). When More Pain Is Preferred to Less: Adding a Better End. Psychological Science, 4(6), 401–405.

Subjects were exposed to two aversive experiences: in the short trial, they immersed one hand in water at 14 °C for 60 s; in the long trial, they immersed the other hand at 14 °C for 60 s, then kept the hand in the water 30 s longer as the temperature of the water was gradually raised to 15 °C, still painful but distinctly less so for most subjects. Subjects were later given a choice of which trial to repeat. A significant majority chose to repeat the long trial, apparently preferring more pain over less. The results add to other evidence suggesting that duration plays a small role in retrospective evaluations of aversive experiences; such evaluations are often dominated by the discomfort at the worst and at the final moments of episodes.

 

 

How does Taipei MRT differ from Copenhagen metro?

Taipei Metro covers more stations than Copenhagen Metro. It covers 117 stations (vs. 22 stations). Like other Asian trains, it has seats designated for the people who are in need. A poster in the train asks us to “stand up for someone in need” in a gentle and polite way, that is, “也許他/她有需要,只是你看不到 (maybe she/he has the need, you just can’t see it).”

 

 

In contrast, Copenhagen trains have fewer folding seats (for bicycles and strollers) and have no seat for those who are in need. Interestingly, I have seen many seats are available because only few travelers sit down rather temporarily. Why do and how could many Danes stand up whereas many Taiwanese sit down in their trains?

 

 

 

A pink litter bin on the London Bridge

River Thames flows through London. People come to the London Bridge to see the Tower Bridge which allows ocean-going ships to pass beneath it.

 

 

Many visitors stopped in front of a pink public litter bin momentarily and threw litter away before crossing the bridge.

 

 

We knew adding human faces or adding controversial messages nudge our prosocial behaviors. Adding votes could be another effective intervention. I believe behavioral economics can play a critical role when public items are designed. Asking people to vote by splitting a litter bin into two sub bins looks more effective than designing a gigantic litter bin like a disposable coffee cup.

 

 

Why are antibiotics over prescribed in some countries?

Antibiotic prescription rate differs across countries. It is two times greater in Korea than in Norway (27.9 vs. 15.8: Defined Daily Doses (DDDs) per 1000 people per day, 2015 OECD report). Why are antibiotics over prescribed in Korea?

 

 

 

 

One reason might be that it is difficult to find traditional medicines in Korean market. In contrast, Norwegians can buy a FLU SHOT at convenience stores. It is a bitter version of Jamba Juice. It is filled with traditional medicines such as ginger, turmeric, garlic, and cayenne pepper.

 

 

If I can buy the same FLU SHOT in Korea, I may not need to see doctors often. My thought provides fresh insights into behavioral economists. In the past, how to nudge doctors not to prescribe antibiotics was studied. Now, how to nudge patients not to see doctors may need to be studied.

 

 

Meeker, Daniella, Jeffrey A. Linder, Craig R. Fox, Mark W. Friedberg, Stephen D. Persell, Noah J. Goldstein, Tara K. Knight, Joel W. Hay, Jason N. Doctor (2016), “Effect of Behavioral Interventions on Inappropriate Antibiotic Prescribing Among Primary Care Practices: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 315 (6), 562-570.

IMPORTANCE: Interventions based on behavioral science might reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing.

OBJECTIVE: To assess effects of behavioral interventions and rates of inappropriate (not guideline-concordant) antibiotic prescribing during ambulatory visits for acute respiratory tract infections.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Cluster randomized clinical trial conducted among 47 primary care practices in Boston and Los Angeles. Participants were 248 enrolled clinicians randomized to receive 0, 1, 2, or 3 interventions for 18 months. All clinicians received education on antibiotic prescribing guidelines on enrollment. Interventions began between November 1, 2011, and October 1, 2012. Follow-up for the latest-starting sites ended on April 1, 2014. Adult patients with comorbidities and concomitant infections were excluded.

INTERVENTIONS: Three behavioral interventions, implemented alone or in combination: suggested alternatives presented electronic order sets suggesting nonantibiotic treatments; accountable justification prompted clinicians to enter free-text justifications for prescribing antibiotics into patients’ electronic health records; peer comparison sent emails to clinicians that compared their antibiotic prescribing rates with those of “top performers” (those with the lowest inappropriate prescribing rates).

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Antibiotic prescribing rates for visits with antibiotic-inappropriate diagnoses (nonspecific upper respiratory tract infections, acute bronchitis, and influenza) from 18 months preintervention to 18 months afterward, adjusting each intervention’s effects for co-occurring interventions and preintervention trends, with random effects for practices and clinicians.

RESULTS: There were 14,753 visits (mean patient age, 47 years; 69% women) for antibiotic-inappropriate acute respiratory tract infections during the baseline period and 16,959 visits (mean patient age, 48 years; 67% women) during the intervention period. Mean antibiotic prescribing rates decreased from 24.1% at intervention start to 13.1% at intervention month 18 (absolute difference, -11.0%) for control practices; from 22.1% to 6.1% (absolute difference, -16.0%) for suggested alternatives (difference in differences, -5.0% [95% CI, -7.8% to 0.1%]; P = .66 for differences in trajectories); from 23.2% to 5.2% (absolute difference, -18.1%) for accountable justification (difference in differences, -7.0% [95% CI, -9.1% to -2.9%]; P < .001); and from 19.9% to 3.7% (absolute difference, -16.3%) for peer comparison (difference in differences, -5.2% [95% CI, -6.9% to -1.6%]; P < .001). There were no statistically significant interactions (neither synergy nor interference) between interventions.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Among primary care practices, the use of accountable justification and peer comparison as behavioral interventions resulted in lower rates of inappropriate antibiotic prescribing for acute respiratory tract infections.

 

 

Is Iron Man banned in Denmark?

There is a Ninjago World at the Legoland in Denmark. In front of a flying dragon brick, I met an unfamiliar sign.

 

 

At first, I questioned why Lego hates Marvel so that pushing hand out like Iron Man was banned. Very soon, I realized it means “do not touch.” Later, I found the same sign at a construction site in downtown. It says “No entry for unauthorized people (Adgang forbudt for uvedkommende).”

 

 

Are these dynamic signs more effective than static ones? According to marketing research, people pay more attention to road signs when they are dynamic. We may need more “Iron Men” signs on the road.

Cian, L., Krishna, A., & Elder, R. S. (2015). A Sign of Things to Come: Behavioral Change through Dynamic Iconography. Journal of Consumer Research, 41(6), 1426–1446.

We propose that features of static visuals can lead to perceived movement (via dynamic imagery) and prepare the observer for action. We operationalize our research within the context of warning sign icons and show how subtle differences in iconography can affect human behavioral response. Across five studies incorporating multiple methodologies and technologies (click-data heat maps, driving simulations, surveys, reaction time, and eye tracking), we show that warning sign icons that evoke more (vs. less) perceived movement lead to a quicker propensity to act because they suggest greater risk to oneself or others and increase attentional vigilance. Icons used in our studies include children crossing signs near schools, wet floor signs in store settings, and shopping cart crossings near malls. Our findings highlight the importance of incorporating dynamic elements into icon design to promote imagery and thereby elicit desired and responsible consumer behavior.

 

 

How crowded is crowded?

Copenhagen differs from Seoul. In Copenhagen, I have ample opportunities to feel emptiness. When I go to a shopping mall (Kronen Vanlose) at 5PM on a weekday, it is literally vacant. Only few are spotted.

 

 

In Seoul, people constantly bump into people on street. By default, I feel crowdedness. When I go to Costco Wholesale at 8PM on any weekday, I should stand in line more than 10 minutes to meet cashiers.

 

 

Feeling emptiness or feeling crowdedness affects us. According to marketing research, social density shapes how we value products in a space. I find this research interesting and insightful, but it does not say much about how (objectively) crowded is (subjectively) crowded. While Koreans find a store or mall empty, Danes may find the same space crowded.

 

 

This article is about social space and material objects for sale within that space. We draw primarily on Goffman’s (1971) concepts of use space and possession territories to predict that as the social density of a given space increases, inferences of the subjective social class and income of people in that space fall. Eight studies confirm that this is indeed the case, with the result holding even for stick figures, thus controlling for typical visual indicators of social class such as clothing or jewelry. Furthermore, these social class inferences mediate a relationship between social density and product valuation, with individuals assessing both higher prices and a greater willingness to pay for products presented in less crowded contexts. This effect of inferred class on product valuation is explained by status-motivated individuals’ desire to associate with higher-status people. To the best of our knowledge, this research is the first to reveal the link between social density, status inferences, and object valuations. As such, it makes a novel contribution to what has come to be known in sociology as the topological turn: a renewed focus on social space.