Make it more likely people fill out your forms

2 min read: Whatever your reason for wanting to make it more likely people fill in forms there’s sure to be some insight you can gain from behavioural science. Here are three of my favourite examples of how people made it more likely:

Getting people to sign up as organ donors: Nina Mazar and colleagues set about conducting some trials to see if they could make it more likely that patients signed up as organ donors when prompted at service centres. When they observed the current environment they noted that the form people received was extremely complex and took a long time to work through. So they simplified the form. They also observed that the forms were being handed out to people as they were leaving the service centre. So they had the centre hand out the new simplified form at the beginning so that the patient had it to fill in when they were sat waiting to be called for their appointment. The final thing that they did was to change the wording at the to the top of the form to make people put themselves in the shoes of others needing transplants. They were able to increase organ donations by 150% just from these simple changes.

Getting parents to fill in grant forms: Philip Oreopoulus was involved in a project looking at getting more high school students to apply to college. The research team recognised that filling in the financial aid form could be a barrier and so they ran a trial whereby information filled in on tax forms was used to pre-populate the financial aid form leaving only a few questions left to answer. They also offered parents a 10 minute appointment tagged on to the end of existing tax appointments to get the financial aid form completed. These simple changes increased the rate of college going from 30% to 40%.

Getting drivers to complete vehicle check sheets: A operational manager was frustrated because he couldn’t get his guys to complete their daily vehicle inspection check sheets. When he looked at it from the drivers perspective he realised that despite only needing a small number of critical checks to be carried out on a daily basis, the form had grown to contain many more nice to have fields. Working with the drivers he set out to simplify the checklist. Completion rates increased from 25% to 85%.

Whatever it is your trying to get people to do, behavioural science repeatedly demonstrates that making small changes to the timing of the request or prompt, making the behaviour as simple as possible and even changing the wording we use, can make it much more likely the desired behaviour occurs.


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