Inside the Nudge Unit

Inside the Nudge Unit

How small changes can make a big difference

David Halpern

why put the signature at the end? What if forms asked you to sign an honesty declaration before, rather than after, filling them in? Dan Ariely, Max Bazerman and colleagues tested this idea in the USA in a series of lab studies and found that people were indeed less likely to cheat if they signed a declaration of honesty before rather than after the opportunity to cheat. 3 They also tested the idea in an elegant real-world study on car insurance, where drivers were required to estimate how many miles they were likely to drive in the coming, or typical, year. The more miles you drive, the higher your insurance is likely to be, so drivers do have an incentive to ‘underestimate’. When the signature was brought to the top of the form, drivers declared on average an extra 2,428 miles, or a little over 10 per cent more. This in turn cost the average driver around $ 97 extra, a significant amount. Signing the honesty declaration before they filled in the number made them significantly more honest.

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