As society gets more and more technological, convenience is one of its major side effects.
Upon first glance, we think of things becoming more convenient as something good and desirable. But is it always? It may be convenient to buy prepackaged foods and groceries, but they also create an enormous amount of extra garbage every year. It may be convenient to order everything we need online but it also means that we’ll spend less time talking to people one-on-one, less time interacting with the world around us. We all like more convenience because people tend to be lazy whenever they can be.
Still, this convenience has an unfortunate effect when it comes to our personal health.
One example of this is the nearly daily choice we make of whether or not to take the stairs or the escalator.
Let’s be honest with ourselves: when we’re in a hurry (which is most of the time), we typically take the escalator. Still, the time we save ends up coming back to us in the form of gradually declining health. But what if taking the stairs had an added incentive beyond just being better for us?
That’s exactly what Volkswagen decided to experiment on in their ad campaign called The Fun Theory.
One of these experiments took place at Odenplan in Stockholm, Sweden.
There was a much-trafficked train station at Odenplan where people almost always took the escalator instead of the stairs. To make the stairs more attractive and fun to commuters, a team of engineers installed weight-sensitive piano keys on each stair. When passersby stepped on them, each one would make its own unique sound. All commuters had to do to make music was to walk up the stairs instead of the escalator.
As you might’ve guessed, the experiment was an enormous success.
After installing their piano staircase, there was a 66% percent increase in how many people took the stairs!
Through it all, the folks at Volkswagen seemed to have proven their initial premise: we can change people’s behavior for the better when we make things more fun (hence the name of their campaign). Still, this is not the only project the team has taken on—for more examples of their social experiments, check out their “fun theory” website. Still, all of these experiments have another motive behind them as well: Volkswagen is using fun to motivate customers to drive more environmentally-sustainable cars.
Sounds good to us!
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