Commitment

Once we’ve made a public statement, we make consistent decisions to support it

Making written or verbal declarations greatly affects our future behavior as we aim to appear rational and avoid being seen as inconsistent by others.

Pallak et al. (1980). Commitment and energy conservation. Applied Social Psychology Annual, Volume 1, 235-253.

The study

Setup

212 Iowan households had their energy use tracked for a year with the aim of reducing it. Half who agreed to reduce were told their name would be shown publicly in the local paper. 

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Results

Those publicly committing demonstrated a 15.5% larger average reduction in energy use over winter.

np_read_2490885_000000

In detail

Key Takeaways

Anchor any request with a leading question that supports others’ positive judgements of themselves or their past decisions.

Start with a small request that allows the respondent to remain consistent with their answer to this question. Commitments are self-reinforcing and build over time, so build slowly on this initial commitment with further, larger requests such as a future product purchase.

Make it public. Declaring an opinion to others on a subject or product will compel consumers to remain consistent with and even strengthen this opinion in future, especially if written down. e.g. asking others to tweet why they love a product will strengthen attachment to it, as well as fostering social proof for others.

Commitment

Once we’ve made a public statement, we make consistent decisions to support it

Making written or verbal declarations greatly affects our future behavior as we aim to appear rational and avoid being seen as inconsistent by others.

Pallak et al. (1980). Commitment and energy conservation. Applied Social Psychology Annual, Volume 1, 235-253.

The study

Setup

212 Iowan households had their energy use tracked for a year with the aim of reducing it. Half who agreed to reduce were told their name would be shown publicly in the local paper. 

Results

Those publicly committing demonstrated a 15.5% larger average reduction in energy use over winter.

Key Takeaways

Anchor any request with a leading question that supports others’ positive judgements of themselves or their past decisions.

Start with a small request that allows the respondent to remain consistent with their answer to this question. Commitments are self-reinforcing and build over time, so build slowly on this initial commitment with further, larger requests such as a future product purchase.

Make it public. Declaring an opinion to others on a subject or product will compel consumers to remain consistent with and even strengthen this opinion in future, especially if written down. e.g. asking others to tweet why they love a product will strengthen attachment to it, as well as fostering social proof for others.

Commitment

Once we’ve made a public statement, we make consistent decisions to support it

Making written or verbal declarations greatly affects our future behavior as we aim to appear rational and avoid being seen as inconsistent by others.

The study

Setup

212 Iowan households had their energy use tracked for a year with the aim of reducing it. Half who agreed to reduce were told their name would be shown publicly in the local paper. 

Results

Those publicly committing demonstrated a 15.5% larger average reduction in energy use over winter.

np_read_2490885_000000

In detail

Pairings

Experience

Create opportunities for 'bundle commitments'

We're more likely to do the hard stuff by bundling it in alongside rewards, but how could we take this concept further and supercharge its effectiveness?

One way would be to create opportunities to make public commitments to our temptation bundles.

It's as simple as telling your housemate that you're going to do the washing up so that you can then watch some Netflix.

Businesses looking to motivate people to do the hard stuff by having such tasks unlock certain rewards could allow for people to make these bundle commitments public, whether on slack, on a whiteboard, or in simply in a team meeting.

For instance, a software developer could say that this week, they're going to fix 10 bugs, and buy themselves a new pair of trainers if they do. If successful, everyone will see those trainers the following week, bringing bragging rights and a powerful, public form of feedback.

Overcome bad past investments with a clean, reflective slate

A fresh week, month or year offers a convenient opportunity for perspective-taking and a more rational assessment of work done to date. Letting go is hard, but iterative time segments with built-in pre-commitments around milestones can offer everyone a clean break from the past.

Behavioural Insights Team did this, setting a self-destruct button on the whole project if they weren't able to achieve a measurable outcome by a certain time.

Where in your projects can you create a future line in the sand upon which you can all decide to continue or not?

Connected to

Running workshops?

Commitment

is included in Box One of our physical workshop tool.
is included in Box Two of our physical workshop tool.
Box One