Understanding people: when behavioural science becomes obvious

By understanding how people think, how they behave, the challenges they face and the factors they consider in making decisions, we can help simplify the stressful and make life easier. In this way, behavioural science can be particularly helpful in providing people with assistance to achieve goals or help them stick to desired behaviours.

Whilst it can absolutely be used to influence people’s behaviour subtly and potentially for the benefit of people other than the person involved, I like to take comfort in knowing that like any other tool, where used for good, it really does lead to those kinds of obvious solutions that seem so logical you wonder how they weren’t there before.

The below are a collection of some great interventions we’ve stumbled upon on the internet. Although probably not intended specifically as behavioural science interventions, they are great examples of how understanding human behaviour means we can improve compliance with rules, improve experiences and improve outcomes.

Keeping your distance

Until recently, the idea of leaving enough space between yourself and other shoppers was something that was only ever done out of consideration for fellow shoppers. But the reality of COVID-19 meant that people all around the world were required to keep their distance to reduce the risk of infecting others or catching the virus themselves.

The problem was that without guidance, it relied on people knowing exactly what 2 meters looked like. This might be fine for a builder or architect who works with measurements every day but for the rest of us, a little help is appreciated to help make sure we keep enough space between one another! Whether opting for a masking tape x on the floor or squares shown in the picture below, this intervention helped people who wanted to comply but didn’t know what amount of space was required to do so.

Reddit | YashSKhandelwal

Red/green signalling

While it may not solve the fear of someone barging in thanks to an unlocked or broken door, the green/red lighting system is a great strategy for quickly and easily telling us when to proceed and when to stop. Adopted from traffic lights, these overhead bars or lights have been used in anything from parking lots to toilet cubicles to help people quickly and easily find one that’s available. Whether this saves you driving around aimlessly or sparing someone else from panic as the door in front of them rattles, it’s a great idea!

Reddit | CliffbytheSea

Catering to customer needs

Take away the need to train as a mind-reader, the below examples both rely on signalling to communicate the customer’s needs without having to ask 100 questions. By giving people the option to choose and letting the choice signal what they prefer, it ensures a positive customer experience.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s