Professor Evan Polman Proves Curiosity can Change Behavior, and Tells us Why Marketers Should Take Note
Would you believe that learning the answer to a trivia question could motivate you to make healthier choices? Or that Snapple may have been onto something by using their now-famed “Snapple facts” to drive purchase? Evan Polman, Wisconsin School of Business’ Assistant Professor of Marketing, has conducted several studies that prove curiosity can affect decision-making and change human behavior.
In both laboratory and everyday settings, Polman’s studies revealed that our natural inquisitiveness might help us to make make the right choices, such as exercising more or eating healthier foods. In one study, 71% of participants decided to forgo a chocolate-covered fortune cookie and opt for a plain one, so long as they were promised to reveal the secret behind a magic trick. Details of these studies were presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, and described in the Boston Globe.
While some marketers and the media exploit consumers’ curiosity with clickbait titles like “You’ll Never Believe What Happens Next,” Polman suggests that curiosity provides an opportunity to have a positive impact on consumer behavior. “Our results suggest that using interventions based on curiosity gaps has the potential to increase participation in desired behaviors for which people often lack motivation,” said Polman. “It also provides new evidence that curiosity-based interventions come at an incredibly small cost and could help steer people toward a variety of positive actions.” Health and fitness marketers, take note!
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