Stairs or escalator? Using theories of persuasion and motivation to facilitate healthy decision making

Gaurav Suri, Gal Sheppes, Sara Leslie, James J. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To encourage an increase in daily activity, researchers have tried a variety of health-related communications, but with mixed results. In the present research-using the stair escalator choice context-we examined predictions derived from the Heuristic Systematic Model (HSM), Self Determination Theory (SDT), and related theories. Specifically, we tested whether (as predicted by HSM) signs that encourage heuristic processing ("Take the Stairs") would have greatest impact when placed at the stair/escalator point of choice (when processing time is limited), whereas signs that encourage systematic processing ("Will You Take the Stairs?") would have greatest impact when placed at some distance from the point of choice (when processing time is less limited). We also tested whether (as predicted by SDT) messages promoting autonomy would be more likely to result in sustained motivated behavior (i.e., stair taking at subsequent uncued choice points) than messages that use commands. A series of studies involving more than 9,000 pedestrians provided support for these predictions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-302
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Choice
  • Decision making
  • Heuristic systematic model (HSM)
  • Persuasion
  • Physical activity
  • Self determination theory (SDT)

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