Honey, I Shrunk The Change

How to motivate change by making the change feel small

In a previous episode, I talked about motivating people to change their behavior by helping them to see and feel the change. A second important task in motivating someone to change is to make the change feel small. In the embedded video, I talk about a technique from Switch: How To Change Things When Change is Hard for making a change feel smaller called “putting two stamps on their loyalty card”.

Researchers Alia Crum and Ellen Langer did a study of exercise habits of hotel maids and found that simply telling them that they were already getting a good deal of exercise in the course of doing their jobs led them to become fitter, with lower weight, lower body fat and lower systolic blood pressure. The researchers claimed that this was due to the placebo effect but the Heaths believe that it was because the maids, having realized that they were already getting some exercise, were a little more motivated to be fit. They compared this with a car wash whose loyalty program was more successful when they pre-stamped the loyalty cards, even when the remaining number of empty spots was the same as the loyalty cards that lacked the pre-stamping.

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