Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Changing behaviour, one wizz at a time

Someone recently stuck this up as a case study.

It’s the dispiriting tale of how a company dramatically reduced the number of cases of men weeing on the floor by painting a fly onto the urinals.

While I respect their achievement, I can’t help feeling humanity is poorer for this story.

It's depressing on many levels. Not least that men can’t manage to hit what is, after all, a pretty big target without a carefully reproduced insect to focus on.

Also, I feel sorry for the poor bloke who had to paint them all on.

But worst of all, that faintest of nagging memories that I too, guided by some primal fly-dousing instinct, have aimed carefully at that fly. I seem to recall vaguely wondering why it was there and why I couldn’t stop aiming at it.

I wonder how far they went in testing the efficacy of a fly above all the other options? For example, did they experiment with other insects, a wasp or bee perhaps? Or even an invertebrate? I for one would welcome the opportunity to wee on a millipede.

And of course there's no reason to restrict ourselves to small creatures. Why not stick a picture of ITV's World Cup pundits in there? Or the entire cast of Hollyoaks? The mind boggles at the glorious weeing possibilities.

1 comment:

  1. The old fly in the urinal story. This is mentioned with some detail in a book called Nudge (

    I recommend you give it a try, especially if you're at all interested in usability, information architecture, or generally just interested in the science of swaying peoples' decisions with the slightest adjustment to their environments.