3 Ways To Apply Behavioural Sciences

3 Ways To Apply Behavioural Sciences

A discipline that is slowly becoming mainstream in solving business problems.

Behavioural science can be applied at three levels

1. Tweaks/ nudges – Subtle interventions or important little changes

2. Adding motivation – By understanding the psychology of your user

3. Product / business – rethinking the core product or business model

Let’s explore each a little more….

1. Tweaks / Nudges

This is essentially the practice of seeing something in the process that is slowing people down.

Eg. Think opt-in vs. opt-out for organ donation or reframing the product options (80% Fat free vs. 20% Fat) to highlight popularity and group choice.

2. Adding Motivation To Products

Humans have a variety of motivations and businesses need to understand these and add them to their product thinking.

Eg. Notifications on social media apps or adding a count of calories lost when you choose to take the stairs or even the fly in the men’s urinal.

Read the next example to understand this better

An HMO had a problem of people not showing up for medical appointments.

So they started sending text messages to remind people, saying: “You have an appointment to meet a specialist. Please show up on time and if you’re not going to show up, please follow this link and let us know you’re not going to make it.”

They thought that people were not showing up because they forgot. But even with multiple reminders, more than 20% of the people did not show up on time.

The HMO then explored the use of behavioural sciences but only limited it to the extent of changing the text message,

– Some people were now reminded that their family wants them to be healthy.

– Some were reminded of the name of their doctor or nurse – Remember Dr. X is looking forward to seeing you on this day and this time.

– Some were told how much it would cost the HMO if they don’t show up.

– Some informed that someone else in need could use their appointment if they don’t show.

The results: All the methods worked better than the control condition.

3. Core Product/ Business 

The idea is to design the business or product keeping behavioural principles in mind.

Eg. Lemonade – An insurance partner that challenged the old two party contract between the insurance provider and consumer to a three party contract – the insurance provider (company), the consumer and a social cause of his choosing. 

The idea was to build trust in the system and remove conflict from the business model.

Any leftover premiums after paying claims and a fixed profit was combined and donated to a cause. Thus, the company does not make any additional money by refusing or not paying claims.

Similarly, the Shapa Bathroom Scale which showed results not as absolute numbers but as a trend to help people remain consistent and not lose motivation.

Three things they did differently

1. Making people check weight early morning

– Because, we weigh more at night.

– Also, in the morning, you remind yourself first thing that you want to be healthy and choose to eat a little bit less throughout the day.

2. Build a scale with no display

– Account for the fact that weight loss or gain is not symmetric. It fluctuates.

– So the ups are really miserable and even though the downs are slightly happy, on average, it’s not good news every day on the scale. High misery, slight happiness. 

– So they gave people feedback on an app, but in trends of the last three weeks and removed numbers which were confusing and de-motivating.

3. Encode nothing happened or static weight as good news and not bad news.

– Give people credit for when nothing bad happens

– Make the neutral sound positive, giving it a green colour

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