We all have the intention to make the right choices. However, reality versus expectations often leaves us upset and disgruntled with our results. Research from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania figured that reminders through convenient location and timing helps us follow through with pre-set intentions. 87 participants completed an hour-long computer task. Upon completion, they were able to donate $1 to a food bank of their choice when they received their compensation. One group had a cue, an elephant, that reminded them to ask for a paperclip while checking out of the facility. This cue was essential to the rules for the donation. Another group did not receive this cue, and instead was simply thanked for their participation. The results were staggering. 74% of those who received the cue asked for the paperclip compared to 42% of those who did not receive the cue. One important note is that the cue must be recognizable. In other words, the participant must be able to identify the cue from the surrounding environment in order to remember their associated action. Helpful, relevant cues placed strategically in locations that trigger the action desired during the time required show promise as a low cost, low-effort technique for follow through.
It’s common to hear about “talking the talk” and not “walking the walk.” This technique can help trigger the connection to the original intention. Based in cognitive behavioral therapy, we become what we think about. It’s common that we are drawn to delicious foods, and other habitual tasks that are hard to shake. Having a reminder in place to reconnect the individual to the purpose can help ward off situational thinking that people often regret later.
The article, despite hard evidence, makes sense. That’s because it’s application and theory is based in established scientific theory, despite using a reference towards them. However, further research should be conducted. Improvement at all seems less important than a measure of the actual degree of improvement. It’s nearly given that reminding one of their original intentions would realign them with the behavior they decided upon in that moment. However, the question is what can improve choosing the original behavior despite having conflicting feelings or thoughts in the moment. For example, waking up to workout in the morning but awaking tired. How can the amount of people that find themselves in this situation be nudged towards the original intention? I believe this question needs to be answered. Otherwise, the reminder in an environment where an undesired behavior is likely to take place is a good start.
Association for Psychological Science. (2016, May 23). Hacking memory to follow through with intentions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 17, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160523083618.htm