Removing Obstructions is Better Than Encouraging Change

There’s plenty of modern experimental evidence to show the importance of removing obstructing forces.

For example, a 2017 study by Peter Bergman and Todd Rogers monitored the impact of friction on sign-up rates for a new educational service offering parents advice on children’s revision. The psychologists randomly assigned parents to one of three sign-up routes:

  • Standard: Parents received a text message saying they could enrol by visiting a website and filling in a short form. (Predicted 39%, Actual 1%)
  • Simplified: Parents received a text message and could sign up by replying ‘Start’. (Predicted 48%, Actual 8%)
  • Automatically enrolled: Parents were told by text message that they were enrolled, but that they could opt out of the service by replying ‘Stop’. (Predicted 66%, Actual 97%)

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