The Power of Prompts: Using Behavioral Insights to Encourage People to Participate

Published: September 16, 2015
Topics:
Child Care, Self-Sufficiency, Welfare & Employment, Strengthening Families, Healthy Marriage & Responsible Fatherhood
Projects:
Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) Research Portfolio | Learn more about this project, Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS), 2010-2016 | Learn more about this project
Types:
Reports

This report presents findings from a study of two behavioral interventions — one that used behavioral messaging postcards and text message reminders to encourage participation in an optional meeting, and one that made the meeting easier to attend.

The goal of each intervention was to increase participant attendance at an optional informational meeting for Paycheck Plus, an earnings supplement program in which participants had previously enrolled. These meetings gave clients an opportunity to review the program requirements and the incentives for work.

The study found that:

  • Behavioral messaging led to a significant and quite large increase in the percentage of participants who attended the meeting.
  • Sending text messages in addition to postcards was more effective than sending postcards only.
  • Offering the meeting over the phone instead of in person did not have any effect on the participation rate.

These findings demonstrate the promise of using behavioral insights in the design of marketing materials and that using text messages – a low cost communication tool – can be effective at reaching people. Additionally, the surprising finding that reducing the hassle of attending the meeting in person did not increase participation reinforces the importance of testing to see what behavioral insights work in particular contexts.

Last Reviewed: December 18, 2018