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The Fun Theory

July 19, 2011

The Fun Theory, an initiative of Volkswagen, is a simple concept:

“…something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.”

Piano StairsIt started with a few inspired projects. The 2-minute videos that capture the before and after are beautiful and delightful (and watched over 30 million times). One asked: “Can we get more people to choose the stairs by making it fun to do?” So they transformed a subway staircase into “Piano Stairs”. And 66% more people than usual chose the stairs over the escalators.

Bottle Bank ArcadeThen they focused on garbage and asked: ” Can we get more people to throw their rubbish in the bin by making it fun to do?” or “Can we get more people to use the bottle bank by making it fun to do?” And by transforming bins into something that gave people a bit of joy, they transformed the experience. As a result, people deposited 230% more trash in the “World’s Deepest Bin” than in a bin nearby. They used the “Bottle Bank Arcade” 50 times more than the traditional machine.

Watch the videos. Look at the faces. See and hear the joy. No threats, no penalties. Just evidence that appealing to an individual’s intrinsic motivation is better on many levels.

Fun everywhere

Speed Camera LotteryThe Fun Theory now sponsors an open competition to recognize “thoughts, ideas and inventions that help prove the fun theory.” The winner of this year’s prize, Kevin Richardson, asked:

“Can we get more people to obey the speed limit by making it fun to do?”

Kevin’s ingenious idea was excellent. It’s routine these days for cities to photograph speeders and send them a summons. But what about those that don’t speed? Kevin’s idea was to take a portion of the revenue from speeding tickets and use that to fund a lottery. Every person who obeyed the law was automatically entered and, in effect, given a free lottery ticket.

That simple idea – providing a reward for doing the right thing – resulted in a 22% decrease in the average speed. The Speed Camera Lottery and the numerous other entries in the competition expanded my sense of the possible applications of fun.

Source info:

For more info, this site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.

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