People tip less when the tip jar looks like a human

Henckell is my favorite cafe in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen. It is a local place with great coffee and sandwich. I feel cozy inside. It has only four small tables.



There is a tip jar next to the credit card machine on the counter table. Interestingly, it has a smiley face, two arms, and two legs. One day out of curiosity, I kept watching how many guests tipped in this human-looking tip jar. Afterwards, I also asked a server whether guests liked it. Surprisingly, I noticed that a few guests hesitated putting coins into this jar for an unknown reason. The server even told me that not few guests complained about the tip jar because its mouth is too small to insert coins.



When human flavor is added to an object, people like the object. It is supported by academic studies about anthropomorphism. For instance, when a car is anthropomorphized and its characteristics are congruent with the proposed human schema, people evaluate it positively (Aggarwal and McGill 2007). When a garbage bin is anthropomorphized (e.g., “feed me”), people follow the message and show prosocial behaviors (Ahn, Kim, Aggarwal 2013). When an innovative, uncertain product is anthropomorphized (e.g., “this little guy”), people tend to adopt this product (Jiang, Hoegg, and Dahl 2011).

However, anthropomorphism might backfire if the usefulness of the product is sacrificed. When I come back to this cafe, I want to draw a different character with a bigger mouth and see what happens.



Chinese love plastic

Chinese government tries hard to reduce plastic waste. Recently, it banned plastic waste import. According to financial times, half of the UK plastic waste need to find alternative places desperately.



In contrast, Chinese people seem to overuse plastics. In Shenzhen, for instance, plates are often wrapped with plastic packages. We should tear it down and throw it away. Sometimes, plastic gloves are provided at the restaurants. We wear the gloves when eating bread.

I suspect Chinese people are addicted to plastics probably because they consider plastics cleaner and safer than water or napkins. If we aim to reduce plastic consumption in China, we should consider the Chinese psychology about plastics seriously.




Do we need floor signage?

We now see a wide variety of floor signage. In Singapore, there is a yellow-painted footstep on the right side of the paved road at the Marina Bay. Since this road is crowded by runners, this signage probably helps them run on the right side of the road.



In Shenzhen, China, there are orange-colored lines at the subway stations. Since many people are in a hurry, these lines help them not to rush forward when the train is coming, and wait for the next train if they cannot get on.



Although floor signage is visually salient, I wonder whether this is needed to change our behavior, because we learn rules naturally. We learn how to avoid bumping into other runners when running on a narrow road and we also learn how to navigate a huge crowd to get on a train. Although I am a strong supporter of behavior economics and nudge, I believe some nudges interfere with learning. Not surprisingly, some people argue that behavioral economics are not always as effective as thought (Why nudges hardly help)(The dark side of nudging). We need to study more about which specific nudges are ineffective and how we can modify these nudges.


What happens when you reserve a taxi at 6am in Copenhagen?

In Copenhagen, people rarely take taxi. They ride bicycles or, if needed, take public transportation such as bus or subways. Therefore, I was not surprised when I heard that Uber’s operation was illegal. According to the news on March 28, 2017 by Alanna Petroff at CNN,

“The government is passing a new law that will essentially make our business untenable here,” said Harry Porter, a spokesperson for Uber. The updated taxi rules — which require cars to install taxi meters and video surveillance features — leaves 2,000 Uber drivers and 300,000 riders in the lurch in Copenhagen, the only Danish city where Uber operated.”

One day, I should have used taxi service because my flight was scheduled to leave early in the morning. I was recommended to book a taxi at Taxa 4×35. Although I saw many Taxa taxi on street, but did not trust its service at first. However, I changed my thoughts about Taxa after using a feature on the app which informed me in real time where the reserved taxi was. The taxi arrived at the right time at the right place and, more importantly, relieved my concern before I used it.



In fact, the real-time location informing feature may not be special in Asia where massive amount of people catch a taxi frequently and use heavily their messenger services such as Wechat or Kakaotalk. However, this feature is quite fresh where taxi is not constantly and/or urgently needed.