Reminders as a Tool for Behavior Change
A version of this article is in Mazar N and Soman D. (in press), Behavioral Science in the Wild, Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, Forthcoming
16 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2021
Date Written: July 16, 2021
In a world where everyone wants our attention, reminders and notifications are omnipresent. It is evident that reminders work. They steer our attention towards a particular decision, and in many cases, they can be a powerful tool for motivation and behavior change. However, reminders also have a dark side – they distract us and turn our time into "time confetti" by pulling our attention away from what we are currently focusing on. I will draw on my research on reminders as well as the many great experiments done by colleagues. First, I will give insights into why reminders work to change behavior. Then, I will discuss whether pure reminders can be improved upon with framing or other types of "nudges". I will briefly discuss the difference between physical and digital reminders. Next, I will discuss the optimal timing of reminders and what happens when they are used repeatedly. That leads me to the challenge of annoyance costs that reminders create and present evidence on how reminders can backfire. Lastly, I summarize what we have learned about designing reminders so far and what we need to investigate further.
Keywords: Reminders, Notifications, Field Experiments
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