‘Cue-based reminders can offer a no-cost, low-effort strategy to help people remember to complete the tasks that tend to fall through the cracks in daily life’, say researchers.
Whether it is paying the electricity bill or taking the clothes out of the dryer, there are many daily tasks that we fully intend to complete and then promptly forget about.
New research suggests that linking these tasks to distinctive cues that we’ll encounter at the right place and the right time may help us remember to follow through.
“People are more likely to follow through on their good intentions if they are reminded to do so by noticeable cues that appear at the exact place and time in which a follow-through can occur”, explained Psychological Scientist Todd Rogers from Harvard Kennedy School.
Rogers and Co-Author Katherine Milkman from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania hypothesised that ‘reminders through association’ may be a tool for remembering and following through.
By design, these cue-based reminders don’t depend on any technology other than the human mind and they are delivered exactly when we need them.
Data collected from customers at a coffee shop suggest that the ‘reminders through association’ approach may also be useful for organisations that want to help their clients remember to follow through on intentions.
Over the course of one business day, 500 customers were given a coupon that would be valid at the coffee shop two days later. Only some customers were told that a stuffed alien would be sitting near the cash register to remind them to use their coupon.
About 24 percent of the customers who were given a cue remembered to use their coupon compared to only 17 percent of the customers who received no cue – a 40 percent increase in coupon usage.
Rogers and Milkman hope to build on this research to explore whether reminders through association might also be useful for boosting adherence to medical and other health-related regimens.
The research was published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.