The Hawthorne Effect is a cognitive bias that refers to the idea that people change their behaviour when they are observed. The Zusha campaign in Kenya illustrates how this bias can be leveraged to achieve the desired behavioural change, and in this case, save lives.
Every year on Kenya’s roads about 13,00 people die. A large portion of that is caused by the matatus, privately owned minibuses used for transport both within and between cities. Drivers in the past have been reckless—speeding, drunk driving, or overlapping. A new campaign seeks to change this behaviour with a simple sticker.
These stickers are placed inside matatus, where they are visible to all passengers. They provide a gentle ‘nudge’ to passengers encouraging them to speak out against reckless driving. The messages vary from ‘You have the power to slow down a reckless driver’ to ‘Don’t let a reckless driver get away with murder.’ Essentially, the stickers are there to remind passengers that it is their responsibility to hold matatu drivers accountable and to remind drivers that they are being watched.
The impact of the Hawthorne Effect has resulted in dramatic decrease in the number of traffic accidents in Kenya, and it has been so successful that it is being implemented in other African nations. How can you make doctors feel as if other clinicians and patients are observing their actions? How would this impact their prescribing behaviour?
Watch the video from the BBC to learn more.